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'Major concern' over shortage of foster carers in Darlington
A PLEA has been made for more Darlington residents to become foster carers due to ‘major concern’ over the shortage in the borough.
Darlington currently has 60 sets of foster carers but needs more to cope with growing demand and prevent children from being moved out of the area.
Figures from January this year show that Darlington has 198 children being ‘looked after’ by the council, either in children’s homes or with foster parents.
Addressing tonight’s (Thursday, March 21) full council meeting, Cyndi Hughes, the borough council's cabinet member for children and young people, told councillors that more needs to be done to encourage people to sign up to the service.
She said: “The numbers of looked after children are quite high; they are high across the country and are rising, although thankfully they remain steady in Darlington.
“But there is still a shortage of foster carers in the borough and we want these children to stay in the borough.”
Foster carers receive an allowance to cover expenses associated with looking after a child, such as clothing and food, as well as a small payment over and above that.
Coun Hughes recently met a group of foster carers at the McNay Street Children's Centre and said that their motivation for looking after the children was overwhelmingly to give them a better life in Darlington.
She said: “Our carers come from an amazing array of backgrounds and live in all parts of the borough.
“Some are married, others are in partnerships and others are single.
“Some have their own children, others don't.
“The bottom line is that foster carers come in all shapes and sizes.”
Speaking at the full council meeting, Coun Heather Scott suggested that information on how to join the service could be distributed across every ward in Darlington via councillors’ newsletters.
She added: “I support the campaign to recruit more foster carers in the town.
“It is a major concern.”
The council’s Family Placement Service is holding an information event at the Kings Head Hotel on Priestgate this Saturday, March 23, from 11am until 2pm to enable people to find out more about becoming a foster carer.