Over 5,000 new foster carers must be recruited across the UK during the next year alone in order to provide more children in care with the homes they need, the charity The Fostering Network is warning today.
The new figure, from a survey of local authorities, has been published to coincide with the start of the charity's annual awareness campaign Foster Care Fortnight (12-25 May).
Robert Tapsfield, the Fostering Network's chief executive, said: Without these much-needed new foster carers, too many fostered children will continue to be denied stability in their home and school life, which is key to success later on.
"While almost anyone can apply, foster carers need special qualities and some people will be more suited to it than others. This year's campaign identifies the qualities needed to be a foster carer - qualities like being optimistic, having good listening skills, being able to see things from a child's point of view and having a sense of humour and encourages people to recognise these in themselves."
Every fostered child should be able to live with a foster carer carefully chosen to meet his or her specific needs in terms of location, culture, lifestyle, language and even interests. The shortfall of foster carers means that children are being placed a long distance from their families, are being moved from home to home and are being split up from their brothers and sisters. The wider the pool of foster carers available, the more likely it is that a good match can be found, the charity said.