South Tyneside bucks national trend to recruit foster parents

South Tyneside is one of the few places with more foster parents
South Tyneside is one of the few places with more foster parents

South Tyneside is bucking the national trend for caring for vulnerable children.

The borough has more carers available to foster children in South Tyneside

Coun Moira Smith.

Coun Moira Smith.

At the end of March, 155 children were in foster care in South Tyneside, the most recent Ofsted data shows - 25 more than a year previously.

But the number of carers approved to foster them also increased by five to 215.

Across the country, the number of approved foster carers has dropped each of the last two years – there were around 73,500 last March.

But demand on the service has continued to increase, with more children in placements each year.

There were more than 53,000 children in care last March, five per cent more than in 2012-13, for when numbers are first provided.

Coun Moira Smith, South Tyneside’s lead member for children, young people and families, said: “We are committed to giving every child the best start in life.

“I would like to place on record my thanks to our network of wonderful foster carers who offer love and support to children and young people who cannot be with their birth family.

“However, we always welcome applications from people interested in fostering and would encourage them to get in touch.”

A charity, The Fostering Network, has spoken out about the challenges facing foster carers, with the majority saying their allowance does not cover the cost of fostering.

The Fostering Network’s chief executive, Kevin Williams, said: “Every day foster carers are looking after 65,000 of the UK’s most vulnerable children, many of whom have had very traumatic starts to life and need help to turn their lives around.

“A decade of austerity and subsequent cuts to early intervention and key family support services have led to more children coming into care with more challenging needs.”

In South Tyneside, 140 households enquired about becoming foster households in 2017-18. Of them, 10 became approved applications, and none applications were still in progress on March 31.

For more information about fostering, visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/fostering