Foster parent shortage costing council £10m

A SHORTAGE of foster parents is costing Norfolk £10 million a year, the county council has said.

The council is looking for 50 new foster carers in order to save £1.5 million a year.

It says 200 young people are currently in foster care outside the county - a measure which costs more than £2,500 a week extra each on average than care in Norfolk.

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We need people who can provide children with security, patience and compassion and can give them the inspiration they need to fulfil their potential.

“Fostering is not easy and the children can have a range of needs but it is a fantastic vocation which can be extremely rewarding.”

The council is looking for people from a range of backgrounds but says it is keen to recruit people from caring professions such as teaching and nursing.

Mrs Thomas added: “We are ambitious for all of Norfolk’s children and young people, especially those in care and we know that they are most likely to succeed if they benefit from the guidance, support and care of a good foster carer, close to their home.

“These young people are among the most vulnerable in the county and, wherever possible, we want them to be near to their schools, friends and support network.

“Of course we need to save money on foster care placements but it isn’t about providing the cheapest option for our young people, it is about providing the best option for our young people and in most cases that is a good foster care placement in Norfolk.”

Carers with social work qualifications or knowledge of child development can enter at a higher level and receive up to £24,000 in allowances for taking a child into foster care.

The council says carers need to be able to work as part of a team, work well with social workers and the child’s birth families.

Full training and support is given from other carers.

For more information, call 0344 800 8020 or visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/fostering.

The county council’s In Care Council is supporting the campaign to get more carers on board.