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Fostering in England and Wales is under increasing pressure due to the unprecedented rise in numbers of children needing foster care and the shortage of 10,000 foster carers, according to the charity Fostering Network.
Research carried out by the charity found that eight out of ten local authorities saw a rise in the number of children needing foster homes in 2009-10, a third of whom needed to find families for more than fifty additional children.
There is a particular need for more foster carers for teenagers and children under four. The shortage of foster carers has led to over forty percent of foster carers looking after a child who they are not trained or approved to look after.
Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, said: "Fostering services had been making progress in recruiting more foster carers and finding children the right foster family, but this has clearly been pushed back by the unprecedented rise in children coming into foster care. Fostering services are working really hard to find the right foster family for every child, but with such a shortage of foster carers they are faced with a huge challenge.
"In some areas there are simply no spare beds. Children are being sent further away from their schools and friends, and sometimes to foster carers who don't have the skills and experience to deal with the child's specific needs. Some local authorities are saying that it is the worst it has ever been."
There 47,800 children living with 40,000 foster families in England and Wales on any given day.