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Foster care shortage ‘nearing crisis point’ in Kent warns KCC

PUBLISHED: 11:49 19 September 2016

Foster care

Foster care

© Alena Yakusheva

Sharp rise in numbers of children in care is fuelling in the crisis

Kent County Council says it is in desperate need for more foster homes as it warns demand for carers is reaching crisis point.

It says it needs 200 new homes to provide the stable, permanent homes which can make a crucial difference to the future of a vulnerable young person.

The shortage is not confined to the county, with more than 9,000 more foster carers needed across the UK, as more children are entering care. In Kent this year, 1,593 children became looked after (entered care) compared to 899 in 2013/4, adding more pressure to the fostering service.

KCC says it needs homes for older children, aged 13-18, supporting them towards independence, for children with disabilities and for sibling groups to help keep brothers and sisters together. Carers are also needed for the large number of unaccompanied asylum seeking young people who have gone through traumatic journeys to arrive in Kent.

Peter Oakford, KCC cabinet member for specialist children’s services, said: “We need more foster carers now. As the number of children entering care continues to rise, councils across the country are struggling to recruit the homes we need to be able to do our best for our looked after children.

“We need more homes so that we have a wide range of people who can meet the diverse needs of these vulnerable young people. This means we are more able to make the right match first time and find them a stable, permanent home in which they can thrive. “We need your help. If you have ever considered fostering, now is the time to take the plunge. It is not an easy job but KCC offers all the support and training you need and it really is one of the most rewarding roles you can do.”

Of the 1,446 children fostered with Kent County Council, 68 per cent are aged over ten years old and 57 per cent have siblings who also need foster homes. Eight per cent of the young people also have disabilities.

Fostering with KCC means giving a home to local children with local support, whenever you need it, in your own community and a local social worker. KCC will provide a package of support including “excellent” payments and training.

There is also the opportunity to support unaccompanied asylum seeking young people who have made the journey to the UK.

Foster carers can be married, single, living with a partner, with or without children of their own.

To find out more about fostering in Kent or to get details of the next information event near you, visit www.kentfostering.co.uk. Alternatively phone 03000 420002.

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