More people are fostering children

A FOSTER service has been praised as the number of carers in Hartlepool continues to rise.

Hartlepool Borough Council currently has 94 registered foster carers – up from 92 at the start of April.

And the service has been praised by independent councillor Cath Hill.

Coun Hill thanked the officers involved in the ongoing efforts to recruit foster carers at a time when the number of looked-after children is also on the rise.

The number has risen slightly from 181 at the end of March, this year, to 182 by the end of June.

Children looked after by the council includes children in foster care, hostel accommodation, residential homes and those receiving short break care at homes like Exmoor Grove.

The latest quarterly report on the foster service was discussed by Coun Hill at her children’s and community services portfolio.

A report to the meeting by Jacky Yeaman-Vass, team manager in the fostering and adoption team, said: “The statistics reflect the positive progress that has been made in the first quarter of this year in terms of foster carer recruitment.

“The numbers of foster carers has increased overall from 92 to 94.

“The continuation of this upward trend is supported by an increase in the number of initial inquiries received and the number of initial visits made.

“The first quarter figure is equivalent to half of those made throughout the whole of last year.”

Over the three months, there were 27 inquiries and 25 information packs sent out.

The increased interest is put down to the service’s revamped publicity materials.

The report said the council is now in the “fortunate position” of having 10 potential foster carers waiting to attend preparation training.

The total number of available placements is 164 and the number of children in placement is 149, with the rest of the looked-after children either up for adoption, in residential care or in independent foster care.

Sally Robinson, assistant director prevention, safeguarding and specialist services, said: “When I first came here we had around 75 foster carers and there has been a year-on-year net increase of carers, which is very positive.”

Coun Cath Hill said: “Congratulations to everybody involved in this wonderful service.

“They do a great job and have done very well.”

Coun Hill heard the council’s fostering service has entered a “positive recruitment phase” and officers say efforts will be focused on ensuring they take full advantage of the increased interest to improve the stock of carers.

The report added: “Overall the recruitment of more carers can only have positive benefits for the children in our care in that our capacity to offer choice and more robust matching will reap benefits for placement stability and effectiveness.”

The fostering service is a regulated service and must produce regular updates about its performance.