A new foster parent recruitment campaign has been launched by the council aimed at tackling the increasing number of children needing care.
Hartlepool Borough Council children’s services committee was told the authority has developed a new foster care recruitment strategy which has recently gone live.
There are currently 126 foster carers in the area providing placements for 215 children and young people in Hartlepool.
A report from director of children’s and joint commissioning services Sally Robinson said targeted recruitment campaigns will be in place to help the increased need for care.
She said: “There has been a steady increase of looked after children and it is essential that the service is able to provide foster placements for those children, particularly for sibling groups and placements for adolescents.
“The number of children becoming looked after this financial year has continued to increase.
“We continue to need placements for sibling groups of 3 or more and older teenagers which will be the focus of ongoing targeted recruitment campaigns.”
Over the third quarter of 2018 a total of 16 people enquired to the council about fostering with 10 information packs being sent out.
Twelve of those whose enquired had initial visits over fostering and four proceeded to the next stage.
There are also currently four prospective carers in the assessment process.
Jane Lane, family placement assistant manager, estimated it normally takes ‘between four and six months’ for someone to go through the process to become a foster carer.
She also said it was important Hartlepool worked with neighbouring authorities to get the best results for people in need.
Ms Lane said: “One individual department on its own will not make a difference, and one individual local authority on its own will not make a difference.
“We do follow up when we speak to people, it’s such a life changing decision.
“Often it’s a drip, drip approach, people are unlikely to make the decision straight away.
“There’s a real desire to place Hartlepool children with Hartlepool carers.
“It sometimes takes quite a long time before people are ready to make that step.”
Health bosses said the main drivers for children needing care include ‘parental ill health, substance abuse and domestic violence’ leading to children being neglected.
Members of the committee were hopeful more foster carers would come forward with the new campaign.
Coun Shane Moore said: “It’s good to see we are still getting people coming through and I’m looking forward to the recruitment drive, I’m pleased with that.”
To contact the fostering and adoption team contact 01429 405588 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporting Service