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Surge of interest from would-be Norfolk foster carers

Julia Spinks who fosters three children.

Julia Spinks who fosters three children.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

There has been a surge of interest from prospective Norfolk foster carers since the launch of a recruitment campaign earlier this month.

Fifty-five enquiries have been received so far, while the number of visitors to the foster caring website has increased by almost 70pc - from 552 to 928 during the first 12 days of the campaign.

But, with the number of children in care set to top 1,000 for the first time within a year, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for children’s services Alison Thomas said: “We need more people.”

The council is hoping to recruit at least 50 more foster carers to help support the county’s looked after children.

Two hundred young people in Norfolk are currently looked after out of county - in care not delivered by the council - and the council needs more of its own foster carers to ensure children can be looked after near to their school and support network.

Children who are looked after near to their homes achieve more and benefit from greater stability. Looking after children outside of the county is also more expensive – costing £10m per year. The average cost of out of county residential care is £3,300 per week, compared to £450 per week for in-house foster care provision.

Mrs Thomas said: “I am grateful to all those who have already come forward to express an interest in becoming a foster carer. Fostering is a marvellous vocation and can be incredibly rewarding as carers support children to develop, grow and overcome the difficulties they have experienced in their early life.

“Only a handful of those who come forward are likely to become carers, so we need more people to consider taking on this crucial role. We need those who can provide children with security, patience and compassion and can give them the inspiration they need to fulfil their potential.”

The council is particularly keen to recruit people from caring professions and those with experience of working with children and young people, such as teachers and nurses. They could earn greater allowances because of their experience - receiving up to £24,000 a year.

The recruitment drive is particularly urgent because of the annual struggle to control the costs of looking after children.

With a child in care costing an average £52,000 per year to look after – rising to £171,600 on average for children looked after “out of county” – the council is seeking to reduce spiralling costs and save £1.5m a year by recruiting foster carers.

● Anyone interested in becoming a carer can visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/fostering or call 0344 800 8020.

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