HUNDREDS more foster carers are urgently needed to help the record numbers of children in care find a loving home of their own, a leading charity says.
The Fostering Network is calling for Wiganers to consider applying to look after disadvantaged youngsters on respite breaks or a more permanent basis, saying at least 1,250 carers are required in the North West this year.
There are now more than 11,000 children living with foster families in the region on any given day, a record number, with many more coming in and out of care throughout the year.
The urgent drive to encourage new carers is due to the need to replace the 13 per cent of the workforce who retire or leave every year.
Wigan Council has already launched its own campaign to recruit new foster families this year, which was backed by leading children’s charities including Barnardo’s.
The fostering service in the borough has been extremely successful over the last few years, receiving an outstanding judgement in a recent Ofsted inspection, and is now looking to try and improve the outlook for young people who authorities traditionally struggle to place with carers.
Jayne Ivory, head of specialist services, said: “Year on year, recruiting and retaining foster carers in Wigan remains a challenge, but we are particularly proud of the support we give to carers and the training that is on offer.
“We have foster carers of all ages and circumstances and many start by offering respite and short breaks.
“We have plans to build on this success in 2013, looking to place more older children and sibling groups, along with increasing the number of foster carers willing to foster babies and young children.”
The Fostering Network warns that unless new families come forward, many children will fail to get the care they need and face long stays in children’s homes or have to be fostered a long way from their homes, schools and families.
Robert Tapsfield, the charity’s chief executive, said: “Despite fostering services attracting more people to become foster carers, the continuing rise of children coming into care means hundreds more are still needed.
“These children need a stable family life to help them grow and achieve their potential, do well at school and be successful in later life.
“Fostering services are looking for people from all walks of life to become carers, of all ages, and from single people to large families. What matters is that they have a desire to work with children and the right skills.”
To find out more about becoming a foster carer visit www.wigan.gov.uk