Finding new foster families for Hartlepool teens is area of ‘greatest need’

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.

Finding families for teenagers is one of the main priorities for both the town’s adoption and fostering services.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s annual adoption report and annual fostering services report were put before the Children’s Services Committee this week.

In both areas one of the biggest problems being faced is finding families to take on teenagers and sibling groups.

Jane Young, the council’s head of specialist services, told members: “This is the most difficult area, not just for Hartlepool, but nationally. It is our area of greatest need.”

She said when it comes to finding foster families to care for older teens it can be a real struggle and is one of the priority areas for the service.

Ms Young said: “We are engaging with our foster carers and building them up to be more confident about taking on a teenager.

“Often when it comes to these young people it is more the thought of it than the actual reality, so we want fosterers to have the confidence to try.

“Most of our teenagers settle really well and are not problematic.”

The annual adoption report stated that as of April this year there are nine children awaiting adoptive places and the number of children who were adopted between April 2014 and March 2015 was 15.

Sally Robinson, director of child and adult services in Hartlepool, said in the report: “The service has been successful in recruiting prospective adopters and over the course of the year, we have recruited, trained and assessed 13 new families for children.

“Our priority remains 
ensuring children are placed with their adopted parents without delay.”

She said Government funding has helped set up a new post for an officer who 
works with social workers in adoption teams and placing social workers to find the right families for children.

Ms Robinson said: “As a result our children are benefiting from timely placements with well matched adopters and thriving in their new homes.”

Statistics show that the length of time between a child entering care and moving in with their adoptive family is 483 days, which is far shorter than the national average of 628 days.

Coun Chris Simmons, chairman of the Children’s Services Committee, said he would like to thank all the adopters and fosterers in the town.

He said: “We are very grateful to all the people 
who take on essentially strangers and make them part of their families.”