In the face of a foster parent shortage in the UK, the Catholic Church in England and Wales will launch a campaign to encourage adoption and foster care.
The campaign will launch Nov. 13 at the annual gathering of the nation’s diocesan marriage and family life coordinators.
The campaign is a partnership between the Marriage and Family Life Coordinators and Home for Good, an adoption charity that works with faith-based groups in the UK.
The organizers of the Nov. 13 conference said the campaign will promote adoption among parishes and encourage parishioners to become foster parents.
According to Catholic Ireland, Kristy Wordsworth, head of engagement for Home for Good, and Church officials expressed excitement for the future partnership.
“Together we will be exploring how Catholic parishes can renew awareness of the need and continue to play their part in both finding a home for every child who needs one and ensuring families who foster and adopt are supported by their church community,” Wordsworth told Catholic Ireland.
“It is something that has been close to the heart of our Catholic mission over many years. Adoption and fostering [are] part of our Catholic DNA, our Christian story and experience,” a conference spokesperson said.
Last month, the UK’s Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board released British foster care data from 2018. The numbers showed a dramatic deficiency of available foster families compared to those in need of a home.
There are currently only 1,700 approved families available for the 4,140 foster children in England. A placement order has been made for 2,760 children who have yet to be placed in a home.
The Fostering Network said that in 2019 alone, there is a need for 8,600 more foster families, according to the agency’s “Recruitment Target” listed on its website.
Sue Armstrong Brown, chief executive of Adoption UK, described foster children as some of the “most complex and vulnerable” people in society.
“They have often suffered serious neglect or abuse in their early lives,” Brown told The Guardian.
“But adoption can have a transformative effect on these children and the testimony of adoptive parents is proof that you can successfully parent children who are deemed harder to place, if the right support is in place,” she added.
Pope Francis has also spoken on the importance of adoption. In May, the Pope spoke to the patients and employees of a hospital in Italy for abandoned children. There, he emphasized the Christian’s responsibility to care for foster children.
“We need to reflect and make people understand that we are responsible for [these children] and help make today another ‘home of the innocents,’ more global, with the attitude of adoption,” he said.
“Go forward, to create a culture of adoption, because there are so many abandoned children, alone, victims of war and so on,” the pope added.