MORE children are needing foster care in Calderdale.
The authority says the number of looked-after children has been “increasing steadily” over the last two years.
In March last year there were 270 children ‘looked after’ by Calderdale Council.
By the end of November the number was up to 375 – an extra 105 children needing care. But the number of foster carers has remained static and the council says they need more – or they’ll face having to pay out more to fostering agencies.
Nationally, the Fostering Network says thousands of families must come forward to avert a looming foster care crisis in the coming year.
Today councillors on the Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel will look at ways to encourage more people to be foster carers.
A report to be presented to them says that there are 88 fostering households in Calderdale, but 18 are not available to provide care on a full-time basis, so it means that Calderdale Council has a pool of just 70 foster carers.
The report says: “Not having enough foster carers often means that children cannot be placed with the right foster carers in their own area, or brothers and sisters may have to be placed in separate foster families.
“If the right foster family is not available straight away the child may have to be placed temporarily with alternative carers and then moved again within a short space of time.”
The lack of ‘in-house’ foster care provision may mean that Calderdale Council will have to buy places from Independent Fostering Agencies (IFA), which could cost the council anything from £725 to £1,000 a week – whereas the council’s own ‘in-house’ scheme costs them £343 a week.
Nationally the picture looks as bleak – the Fostering Network says at least 8,750 new foster families will be required by struggling fostering services across the UK in 2012.