Kirklees Council has a hole in its foster care provision – and it’s struggling to recruit the right people to fill it.
Experts say many older people sign up to be foster carers.
But when they have grandchildren they often quit fostering to focus on their own families.
Now the authority reckons it needs 40 inquiries A MONTH to be able to fulfil its needs.
The council’s Interim Head of Corporate Parenting, Steve Comb, said Kirklees was not alone in struggling to recruit foster carers, describing it as “a real national challenge.”
And he said the key to securing new carers might be via using existing carers who can talk about the work they do and its benefits.
Reporting to the council’s Corporate Parenting Board at Huddersfield Town Hall, Mr Comb said: “In order to recruit 30 new fostering households we need 500 inquiries a year. To achieve that you are looking at 40 inquiries a month.
“National research shows that the best recruits of foster carers are your existing carers. Our carers are really keen to help us with this. It’s that thing about putting our energy in the right place, trying to get the right people and getting that conversion coming through.”
Mr Comb said there was evidence nationally to show that foster carers are from a more mature demographic and that “when grandchildren come along it can be tricky.”
And while he welcomed interest from people in a wide range of occupations he stressed that foster caring was “a complex arena” with the role itself a “very specialist” one.
Potential carers face 28 weeks training and rigorous background checks that can even involve investigating partners from previous relationships.
A recent long service ceremony at John Smith’s Stadium had been well attended with lots of positive feedback from carers who said they felt valued.
One of the most successful foster mums in Kirklees is 67-year-old Brenda Whitworth, of Dewsbury, who has fostered more than 100 children over 33 years.