SUPPORT from social workers for foster parents has been thanked for an increase in the overall number of carers in Redcar and Cleveland.

The borough’s foster carers themselves have been praised for the “amazing adaptability” they have shown to help children and young people in lockdown.

The Annual Fostering Report was considered by Cabinet on Tuesday (August 4), and revealed that there has been an increase of 47 carers in the borough from March 2017 to March 2020 – and that number is continuing to rise.

That’s despite a recent national Barnado’s report which revealed that across the country the number of people looking to become foster carers almost halved in March and April compared to the same period last year.

The Annual Report also showed that in 2017 there were just 81 in-house council foster carers, which was less than 50 per cent of the numbers needed for placements - with the rest coming from private agencies. That compares to 130 today, or 69 per cent of all carers needed to place foster children. It is considered better to have more foster carers ‘in-house’ as it is more likely vulnerable children will remain in their own area and have more continuity of health care, education and family support. It is also more cost effective for the tax payer if foster carers are with the council.

The positive news has been put down to the support social workers give foster carers in Redcar and Cleveland which includes regular meetings, support sessions with other foster carers and support care to allow breaks. The borough’s foster carers also receive competitive financial support.

The report said: “Throughout the Covid pandemic our foster carers have shown amazing adaptability in continuing to care for the children, keeping them safe and supporting their emotional wellbeing. In particular, supporting children in different ways to maintain relationships with their parents and friends. They have adapted ways in which they have ‘home schooled’ those children who have not been able to attend and have also ensured they remained settled and stimulated in placement.

“(The improved recruitment and retention of foster carers) provides testament to the hard work of the council’s Fostering Team in their endeavours to identify, train and support the increasing number of foster carers needed to meet the growing demand on placements.”

Councillor Alison Barnes, Cabinet Member for Children, said: “We are referring to the exceptional people who offer a home to some of our most vulnerable children and young people. I hear so much about the fantastic work they do and I’d also like to thank our Fostering Team at the council who offer such great support to the carers and children.

“I’d like to take this chance to encourage more people to come forward. There is no ‘typical’ foster carer. You can be single or a couple, you can be working full time or at home. We want those special individuals, who can provide a safe and loving home environment for all kinds of children and young people who need our help.

“We are also looking for people who can provide supported lodgings for young people who have been in our care aged 18 to 25. We have a financial package available – so please get in touch.”