County’s fostering ‘healthy’

COUNCIL bosses say fostering in Lincolnshire is “healthy”, despite a charity claiming 500 extra carers will be needed across the East Midlands in the next 12 months.

The Fostering Network have warned about the scale of the challenge for fostering services in the region as they struggle to provide the right foster homes for all the children who need them.

However, John Harris, fostering manager at Lincolnshire County Council, says the county is bucking the trend for the number of children going into care compared to national statistics.

He said: “We have always been able to recruit foster carers. Last year we had 48 new carers and that more than compensates for the carers we have lost due to retirement or taking on children on an adoptive basis.

“One thing we do struggle with in the south of the county, around Spalding and Bourne, is we would like to see more carers come forward.

“One of the biggest challenges we face is to place children as near to their own communities as possible and that’s one area we find difficult at times, especially with brothers and sisters.

“Carers also find teenagers more difficult and challenging to care for.”

Mr Harris said most fostering requests are absorbed by the local authority, rather than going to outside agencies.

The Fostering Network says that since 2008 the number of children living with foster families in England has risen by 16 per cent, and is continuing to rise.

It also claims about 14 per cent of the workforce retire or leave every year.

In Lincolnshire, there are currently 490 children in care, with 400 of those with foster carers.

Mr Harris added: “It’s a very healthy picture but we wouldn’t like to be complacent, we would always like to be healthier.”

Anyone interested in becoming a foster carer in Lincolnshire can request an information pack from the county council by calling 0800 0933099.

Alternatively, information can be downloaded by visiting www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/ fostering.