CARE bosses are urging anyone looking for a new challenge for 2014 to consider giving children a loving home.
Hartlepool Borough Council is desperately looking for more foster carers.
Going into the holiday season, the council’s fostering and adoption team had only six free beds across the whole town.
Christine Croft, manager of the family placement team, said: “We desperately need some new foster carers coming in.
“We are always looking for more foster carers and never have enough.”
Hartlepool currently has 95 foster households on its books and there are 169 children, aged between birth and 18, in care.
Ms Croft added: “The primary reason children come into our care is through neglect where their parents are not able to meet their needs.
“Other reasons are domestic violence, mental health problems and alcohol issues.
“As a local authority we intervene and bring them into foster care.”
The team is particularly looking for more foster carers willing to look after sibling groups to prevent children from the same family having to be split up.
Extra carers for teenagers are also much-needed.
Ms Croft said: “Families coming to us are quite large and they can have four or five children.
“There is also not as many carers for teenagers coming through, although it pays a higher rate.
“That means the young people have to be placed outside the area. We try to keep all our children from Hartlepool within Hartlepool.”
And it can be a very rewarding experience, said Ms Croft.
“Most people who pick up the phone say they have been thinking about doing it for a long time so I would urge people not to put it off but make some enquiries.
“It is very rewarding. All anyone wanting to be a foster carer needs is experience of working with children and the desire to do it.”
Foster parents can care for children for a short period until they can go home to their own parents or until they reach the age of independence at 18.
And under a new Staying Put policy, young people can remain with their foster parent even after 18.
Ms Croft said: “Most children of that age aren’t ready to leave home so why should it be any different for looked after children?”
The council offers a range of training and support and a new training session for new foster carers starts in January.
You can contact the Fostering and Adoption Team on (01429) 405588 or email: email@example.com.