New campaign to recruit foster carers

Steve DownesA campaign is today launched to find at least 50 new foster carers to open up their homes to some of Norfolk's most vulnerable children.Steve Downes

A campaign is today launched to find at least 50 new foster carers to open up their homes to some of Norfolk's most vulnerable children.

Teenage mums with babies, and groups of brothers and sisters are among those waiting expectantly for a loving home and a family to give them a fresh start.

Norfolk County Council's 'I Am Hope' recruitment drive aims to end the heartbreak of needy youngsters being sent out of the county for placements that isolate them from their families, friends and schools.

It is also designed to close part of a funding black hole by saving the council �1.5m in care costs or fees paid to the out-of-county agencies.

There are currently 49 children waiting for foster families across Norfolk, out of a shortfall of more than 650 across the East of England.

The situation has been made worse by a nationwide surge in the number of children being taken into care in the wake of the publicity surrounding the abuse and killing of Baby Peter.

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Thousands of 'I Am Hope' posters will go up around Norfolk in the coming weeks, featuring many of the attributes needed to be a foster carer. They read 'My name is Hope. I am trust, I am patience, I am confidence, I am security, I am inspiration, I am a foster carer'.

Adverts will also appear in newspapers and on local radio as social care bosses step up the hunt for suitable applicants.

Sheila English, Norfolk's assistant team manager for the county's fostering recruitment, said: 'There are so many reasons why we need to recruit more foster carers but the overriding factor is that it is best for children in care in the county to stay in Norfolk.

'Moving young people away from their family can affect contact with the family, particularly if rehabilitation is taking place in an effort to reunite the family. We want to be delivering the best possible service to Norfolk's children and young people and their families and to do this we need to recruit more foster carers.'

An estimated �6.3m has been overspent on out of county, residential placements in the last year, which has put pressure on the children's services budget. Recruiting extra foster carers would reduce the overspend.

The council is looking for people who are committed, caring and have enough time in their lives to support a child or young person. Applications are accepted from adults of any age, background, religion, race or sexuality.

Shelagh Hutson, cabinet member for children's services, said: 'Being a carer is incredibly rewarding and can really improve the life chances of children in care. I would urge anyone that has thought about fostering to get in contact with us to find out more - Norfolk's children really do need your support.'

t For further information about becoming a foster carer, call 0800 005007 or email

t If you have a story to tell about being a foster child or carer, call Steve Downes on 01603 772495 or email