UP to 15 new foster parents are needed immediately to help cope with the increasing number of children coming into the care of Scottish Borders Council (SBC).
The local authority intends launching a recruitment drive early next year to help plug the gap, but it is not alone in facing this problem in Scotland.
More than 1,000 extra foster carers must to be found across the country in the next 12 months to avoid a crisis in foster care in 2012, a leading charity has warned.
The new national figures, published by the Fostering Network, show the scale of the challenge for fostering services as they struggle to provide the right foster homes for all the children who need them.
Since 2005, the number of children living with foster families in Scotland has risen by around a third. There is also an ageing foster carer population and around 14 per cent of the workforce retire or leave every year.
Without these extra families, too many children will have to settle for second best. This might mean living with a foster carer who is a long way from the child’s home, school and family, or who does not have space for their brothers and sisters, or even living in residential care when fostering has been identified as the right option.
Sara Lurie, director of the Fostering Network Scotland, said: “These figures are very concerning – we could be facing a real crisis when looking to provide the most appropriate care for children who cannot live with their own family.
“All children in care need a family they can grow up with who can love them, be ambitious for them and help them achieve their potential. For a growing number, foster care is the best option.”
Councillor Ron Smith, executive member for children and strategic services (social work) at SBC, said, like elsewhere, the Borders is in great need of more foster carers.
“We have seen the number of children coming into our care increase substantially over the last two years and this has put a strain on our existing carers. A number of our carers retire every year, making it essential that we recruit just to stand still,” he told TheSouthern.
“Elected members have been working with officers in integrated children’s services to find ways to increase the numbers of local carers and a report will be presented to the council executive in January with ideas about how to support existing carers and recruit new ones.
“The local authority would be helped by finding an additional 10-15 foster parents and and will be launching a local recruitment campaign in the New Year.
“Anyone interested in finding out what this demanding but very rewarding role entails should call 01896 662799.”