Foster home crisis growing despite rise in carers

Dozens of households started fostering in South Tyneside last year, new figures show.

Foster home crisis
Foster home crisis

Data provided by childrens services watchdog Ofsted shows there were 145 households approved for foster care in South Tyneside during the year to March – providing a total of 160 foster places.

Of them, 40 gained their approval between April 2020 and March this year – but the watchdog warned the number of available foster carers is not keeping up with demand from vulnerable children.

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Nationally, there were 160,635 initial inquiries in 2020-21 – a record high and up 55% since 2014-15 – but just 10,145 (6%) led to formal applications.

That is an all-time low, meaning fewer applications despite an increase in inquiries.

Last year, 8,880 households gained approval to provide foster care, bringing the number of fostering households to 45,370 – and looking after 55,990 children.

Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s national director for social care, said urgent action was needed to boost the number of foster carers.

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She said: “These statistics paint a bleak picture.

“Year on year, we see more children coming into foster care and too few carers with the right skills to give them the support they deserve.”

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The Government said it was encouraging more people to come forward to provide foster care for children in need.

A spokeswoman said: “We have made significant additional funding available in response to changing pressures on children’s services, we are investing in different approaches to help councils provide foster care places, and trialling different ways to plan placements.”