ACROSS the South West 540 new foster families need to be found in the coming year to ensure that all children who need fostering can live with the right family to meet their needs, according to leading charity The Fostering Network. There is a particular need for families who can foster teenagers and groups of brothers and sisters.

The figures, published on the first day of Foster Care Fortnight, which runs until May 27, show that 8,100 families are needed across the UK (6,800 in England, 200 in Northern Ireland, 550 in Wales and 550 in Scotland).

Without more foster families in the South West coming forward during 2018, and especially those who could foster teenagers and sibling groups, some children will find themselves living a long way from their family, school and friends, being split up from brothers and sisters, or being placed with a foster carer who might not have the right skills and experience to meet their specific needs.

More foster families means that a fostering service can match the needs of each child more closely with the skills and experience that each foster carer brings, allowing them to find the right home for each child, first time, and to improve stability for fostered children. During Foster Care Fortnight, The Fostering Network is calling for people who think they might have the relevant skills and experience to come forward to find out more about fostering.

Chief executive Kevin Williams said: "Foster carers do something amazing on behalf of our society, opening their hearts and homes to fostered children, often offering them their first experience of a stable, secure and caring home.

‘Looking after fostered children, many of whom who have experienced trauma, abuse or neglect, can be challenging. But it is that challenge, along with the reward of seeing these children and young people flourish, that many foster carers across the South West say makes them proud to foster.’

People who think they have the relevant skills and experience to be able to look after fostered children, enjoy a challenge and have a spare room can find out more at