Close to 70,000 children now live in care across England, the highest number for 30 years, the Department of Education (DfE) has revealed.
The figure, from March last year, is sufficient to fill 2,800 classrooms. It includes children who have been adopted or fostered.
The number has been on the rise for the last seven years. Around 40 per cent of fostered teenagers are living with their third family and five per cent with their tenth, according to the DfE.
The Fostering Network claimed last week that more than 9,000 new foster families will be required across the UK this year in order to keep up with demand. Unsurprisingly England has the largest requirement, with around 7,600 new families needed to house children in need. Within England, London and the North West have the highest estimated need for foster carers.
Kevin Williams is the Fostering Network’s Chief Executive. He said that foster parents “perform an invaluable duty on behalf of the state” which “contributes not only to society now, but in the decades that will come”. Foster care gives children in care the opportunity to have “the childhood they deserve”, he suggested.
Meanwhile, children’s charity Barnardo’s made a plea for more foster parent registrations at the beginning of National Adoption Week, which runs from 11 – 17 January. Chief Executive Javed Khan urged more people to volunteer, saying they were “desperately needed to give … children loving, stable care”.