THE region is facing a critical shortage of foster carers with more than 450 new families needed to care for children in 2014, charities have warned.
According to the Fostering Network, 3,250 children are currently living with foster families in the North-East.
However, many more foster families are needed this year to replace those who stop fostering and care for children who enter the system.
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More foster families are particularly needed to provide homes for teenagers, children with disabilities and sibling groups, the charity says.
Fostering chiefs say that without enough foster families, children will find themselves living a long way from family, school and friends, being split up from brothers and sisters, or being placed with a foster carer who does not have the ideal skills and experience to meet their needs.
Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, said: “Fostering services across the North-East need to attract a diverse range of foster carers who can reflect the children in care and who can offer as much choice as possible so that they can find the right home for each child, first time.
“We urgently need people who believe that they have the right skills and qualities to foster to come forward and make a long lasting positive difference to the life of a child.”
Barnardo’s North East is one of several agencies which are running urgent recruitment drives for foster carers because of the ongoing chronic shortage.
Steve Oversby, director of Barnardo’s North East, said: “The huge shortfall of foster carers at a time when there is an increase in referrals of children amounts to a crisis, and it is more crucial than ever to ensure that stable and secure foster placements are available.”
To find out more about becoming a foster carer people should contact their local fostering service.
Details of fostering services and more information about fostering and becoming a foster carer are available from couldyoufoster.org.uk
Alternatively, potential fosters can call the Barnardo’s fostering team on 0191-492-9000.