‘Urgent’ need for more foster carers to tackle shortage

Cllr Catherine Gibbons. Picture: North Somerset Council

Cllr Catherine Gibbons. Picture: North Somerset Council - Credit: Archant

An urgent appeal for foster carers has been made by North Somerset Council because the ‘sad truth’ is not enough people want to take in children in need.

That is the message from Catherine Gibbons, the council's executive member for children's services, ahead of information evenings which are taking place over the next fortnight.

Approximately 230 youngsters are registered with the foster care team at any one time, but a shortage in placements within North Somerset mean many have to go to other parts of the country.

Cllr Gibbons said: "Unfortunately, the sad truth is we don't have enough foster carers in North Somerset and we urgently need more people from our local communities to come forward.

"At the moment, due to the shortage of carers, we sometimes have to place children in private foster care placements outside of our area and away from their familiar sources of support such as their schools and friends - through absolutely no fault of their own."

Information sessions will be held in Nailsea and Weston in an attempt to increase foster carer numbers.

Cllr Gibbons added: "These information evenings are a chance to find out more about fostering in a totally supportive and informal setting.

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"By coming along, you could help us increase the number of foster carers in North Somerset which ultimately means we'd be able to place more children and young people locally to their home communities."

The first information session will be held at Costa Coffee, in Nailsea's Somerset Square, on Friday.

Weston's will take place at the chain's café in High Street on September 5.

Both sessions will run from 6.30-8.30pm.

North Somerset Council has tried a number of initiatives to boost its number of foster carers.

It attended last month's Weston Pride festival to try to encourage more people from the LGBT community to come forward.

At the time, Cllr Gibbons said: "There are still some myths around who can and can't become a foster carer and unfortunately, while they aren't true, they can put people off from making that important first step and finding out about fostering.

"The most important thing is you can provide a child or young person with a loving, safe and stable home."