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Many new foster families needed across the UK

New figures released by the Fostering Network have revealed that at least 8,600 new foster families are needed across the UK during 2014 to provide stable, secure and loving homes for the record numbers of fostered children.

Looking at the figures in more detail, they show that an additional 7,000 foster families are needed in England, 200 in Northern Ireland, 850 in Scotland and 550 in Wales during 2014.

More foster families are particularly needed to provide homes for teenagers, children with disabilities and sibling groups. Around 38,000 of the young people in care in England are aged 10 or older, and over 2,000 children with disabilities are currently in care because their parents couldn’t fully support their needs at home. Last year around 450 fostered sibling groups in England were separated, where the aim was for them to live together.

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“Invest to save” in support care and keep families together

Local authorities in the UK should invest in support care schemes as a cost-effective way of supporting families and keeping children out of more expensive full-time care, the Fostering Network has urged.

The charity’s call comes with the publication of new research by Loughborough University showing that support care, including the accompanying support services for families, has a far lower unit cost than the foster care it replaces and aims to avoid longer term.

Support care is short-term preventative foster care aimed at families in crisis with a view to avoiding a child being take into care full time and long term. Support carers look after the child on a part-time basis, for example one night a week or one weekend a month, for a time limited period. At the same time a package of other support services is offered to the family, giving them space, guidance and help to work through their problems.

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