Nottinghamshire needs new foster carers

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SHOCK statistics have revealed that the number of children in care across Nottinghamshire is at an all time high.

The increase is also reflected nationally with a rise of two per cent from 65,520 children last year to 67,050 this year.

This includes the 832 children currently needing local authority care in Nottinghamshire alone.

But behind the shocking figures are real children, with real stories needing real help.

It is easy to read numbers about faceless children who you have never met, but just take a minute to think about what these figures really mean.

It means these children have either been abused or neglected or both, or their parents have found themselves in situations where they can no longer cope with the stresses of family life and need support from social services.

To tackle the growing problem, Nottinghamshire County Council is appealing for more foster carers to give homes to these children in need.

While countless people are unable to commit to becoming a full-time foster carer, many may not know that there are opportunities to become a support carer for short periods like weekends and school holidays.

“Make no mistake, opening your heart and your home to a child or young person on a support care basis makes a long-term difference,” said Coun Philip Owen, committee chairman for children and young people’s services.

“As the total number of children in care increases we correspondingly need more support carers.

“This appeal is about recruiting people who are willing to provide care on a short-term basis. This may be one weekend a month, for example, or an occasional overnight stay on a planned basis.”

It could be that a full-time carer needs holiday cover or a family need regular weekends of respite care.

The council’s fostering service manager Jayne Austin said: “Many families would like to foster but aren’t able to commit on a full-time basis – support carers can choose to foster and carry on working at the same time.

“We quite often get enquiries from teachers, teaching assistants and people who have a background working with children, but have other commitments which again mean they aren’t available to care for a young person full-time.”

There has been a steady increase in the number of youngsters taken into care in recent years. It is believed a number of high profile cases, including the story of ‘Baby P’, have contributed.

The death after months of abuse of ‘Baby P’ from North London in 2007, sparked an outcry and social workers handling the case were criticised for not removing the 17-month old sooner.

It is believed this may have prompted a more cautious attitude within the profession. Public awareness is also heightened with the police, schools, friends and neighbours being more alert to the potential warning signs.

There is no upper-age limit to becoming a support foster carer. You can be married or single and already have a job and children of your own. All you need is a spare bedroom and the dedication and commitment to give regular periods of time to children who need it.

All applications will take about eight months to process giving time for the necessary checks and procedures to be carried out. It also allows a period for applicants to prepare for the role through discussions with social workers and taking part in training programmes. If you are interested in becoming a support foster carer, please get in touch with the council on 0845 301 8899 or find out more at