PEOPLE in South Tyneside are being asked to consider becoming foster parents.
The Fostering Network says it needs at least 450 new foster families across the North East during this year to provide stable, secure and loving homes for record numbers of fostered children.
With a rising number of children coming into care, and around 13 per cent of foster carers retiring or leaving the service last year, there is a need to not only recruit more foster carers but also better utilise the current pool of foster carers.
Families are particularly needed to provide homes for teenagers, children with disabilities and sibling groups.
Jackie Sanders, director of public affairs at The Fostering Network, said: “Fostering can be an incredibly rewarding career and lifestyle choice for those who do come forward, opening their hearts and homes to children and young people who need security and stability.
“Fostering is also a challenging job and, when the match between foster family and child is not right, it becomes even more difficult.
“A wider pool of foster carers enables fostering services to be able to match the needs of each child more closely with the skills that each foster carer brings, and to find the right home for each child, first time.”
She added: “As well as recruiting new foster carers, fostering services must look at the foster carers who are currently available to them in their local area.
“Where existing foster carers have space in their homes, it may be possible to retrain and support them to look after different ages of children with a variety of different needs.
“We urgently need people who have the right skills and qualities to foster to come forward and make a long lasting positive difference to the life of a child.
“In particular, foster carers are needed to provide homes for teenagers and children with disabilities, and to help sibling groups stay together.”
For more details of fostering services and information about fostering and becoming a foster carer, go to couldyoufoster.org.uk.