A fostering charity has claimed that as many as 8,370 new foster families are required across the country this year.
The Fostering Network said that these numbers were required to house the growing number of children who are being placed into care. There are currently over 63,000 children living with foster families in the UK.
They announced that 6,900 new families were needed in England, 550 in Wales, 750 in Scotland and 170 in Northern Ireland.
While there are currently over 52,500 foster families in the UK, the charity reports that 13 per cent of carers either retired or simply left the service last year. Teenagers, siblings and children with disabilities are particularly in need of foster families, the group claimed. Last year, 1,520 siblings were separated in foster care despite the initial aim of keeping them together.
The charity said that without an adequate number of foster families, children in care could find themselves being placed far away from their friends, family and school. Over 7,000 children were placed in foster homes in excess of 20 miles from their home last year.
Jackie Sanders is the Fostering Network’s director of public affairs. She said that while becoming a foster carer could be “an incredibly rewarding career and lifestyle choice”, it was also very challenging. This is especially true “when the match between foster family and child is not right”.
She added that the number of new foster families was necessary to have a better chance “to find the right home for each child, first time”.
For more information on foster care, click here.