Is Enough Being Done to Recruit LGBT Foster Carers in Wales?
A Welsh charity has called out local authorities for not routinely recording the number of LGBT people they recruit as foster carers.
The Association for Fostering and Adoption (AFA Cymru) said that although there has been an anecdotal rise in the number of LGBT foster carers in Wales, not all local authorities were keeping a record, making it difficult to accurately track progress.
“We must ensure that each local authority can report on the demographics of their fostering workforce,” a spokesperson from AFA Cymru told BBC News. “From the data we have collected over the past three years we know that recruitment numbers are improving, however, not all local authorities are measuring the numbers of LGBT foster carers coming into fostering so we do not know the impact of this work as yet.”
According to the most recent data from Barnardo’s Cymru, in March 2018 there were 6,405 children in care across Wales, with 74% in foster care placements.
Each of the 22 local authorities in Wales was asked how many LGBT foster carers they employed and if there had been a rise over the last five years. Of that seven that responded, three said they currently employed LGBT foster carers but didn’t keep any records and the remaining four employed only 12 between them.
The principle of monitoring all protected characteristics, including sexual orientation, is embedded in the Welsh Public Sector Equality Duties.
Monitoring is essential because it enables local authorities to keep track of their progress in promoting equality and identify how they can better target advertising campaigns to recruit more foster carers from a historically underrepresented group.
Emma Lewell-Buck, the Shadow Minister for Children, and Matt Rood, the founder of Pride Families, recently wrote an article for HuffPost in which they argued that approximately a third of LGBT people in the UK didn’t even know they could foster.
They and other commentators agree that raising awareness amongst the LGBT community that they could foster would aid the current care crisis. In Wales, Swansea council have been trying to do just that by challenging misconceptions about LGBT fostering and proactively recruiting carers during Swansea’s Pride celebrations.
Consortium, the founders of LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week, estimate that if just 1% of the LGBT population were to adopt or foster there would no longer be any looked-after children still seeking a home.
Under the Equality Act 2010, all fostering agencies must ensure equal treatment of all prospective carers and should positively welcome applications. Your sexual orientation or gender identification should not be considered important when determining your ability to provide a safe and nurturing home to a child or young person.