At least 575 new foster families are needed across the south west during 2014 to provide stable, secure and loving homes for the record numbers of fostered children, according to new figures from the Fostering Network.
Tonight, more than 4,200 children will be living with foster families across the south west.
More foster families are needed not only to replace the 12 per cent who leave each year but to ensure that children who come into foster care find carers who are right for them, have the skills and qualities they need, and are available now.
Wiltshire Council has more than 430 children in its care, with 77 per cent of those being looked after by fosterers. The council is aiming to have an additional 50 families by the end of 2014.
More foster families are particularly needed to provide homes for teenagers, children with disabilities and sibling groups in the region.
Without enough foster families willing and able to offer homes to these groups, some children will find themselves living a long way from family, school and friends, being split up from brothers and sisters, or being placed with a foster carer who does not have the ideal skills and experience to meet their needs.
A wider pool of foster carers makes it more likely that fostering services can find the right foster home for each child, first time.
Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, said: “Children and young people come into care for a wide range of reasons, but all come needing professional, dedicated and compassionate support.
"Foster carers are remarkable people who open their homes to some of society’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people.
“Fostering services across the south west need to attract a diverse range of foster carers who can reflect the children in care and who can offer as much choice as possible so that they can find the right home for each child, first time.
“We urgently need people who believe that they have the right skills and qualities to foster to come forward and make a long lasting positive difference to the life of a child.
"In particular, foster carers are needed to provide homes for teenagers and children with disabilities, and to help sibling groups stay together.”
An additional 7,000 foster families are needed right across England, 200 in Northern Ireland, 850 in Scotland and 550 in Wales during 2014.
Details of fostering services and more information about fostering and becoming a foster carer are available from couldyoufoster.org.uk