Calls were today made for more foster carers to come forward in Blackpool, following figures which show almost £10m has been spent shipping vulnerable children out of the resort.
Coun Sarah Riding, who sits on Blackpool Council’s fostering panel, said there was a shortage of foster carers in the town.
It follows figures reported by the Gazette yesterday which revealed the council has run up a bill of almost £10m in the past three years moving children out of the resort to be cared for elsewhere because there are not enough suitable facilities in the town at the moment.
The council currently has 470 children placed with foster parents – around 10 per cent outside the area.
Coun Riding urged anyone thinking of fostering to contact the council’s Fostering Services on (01253) 477888 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
She said: “We’re not looking for super-parents, just ordinary people with love, understanding and empathy.”
Some of Blackpool’s most ‘at risk’ youngsters have been re-housed hundreds of miles from their communities in places as far away as Wales, Yorkshire, Cheshire and Manchester.
Last year alone, the figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, revealed the council spent £4m on housing children in other parts of the country.
Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said many children in care had complex needs – and Government funding should reflect the fact Blackpool has people coming in from outside the town who need care.
He said: “We also have the added pressure of transience so even when the council is able to make progress on this issue, very often we have other people coming in from outside with problems which need to be addressed and that is not recognised in the funding Blackpool gets from Government.”
Attempts to open homes resisted
Previous attempts to open new care homes in Blackpool have faced opposition.
But one resident who opposed plans for a new facility in Preston New Road, Marton, insisted the bid was not right for the area.
It was blocked following a campaign from residents. Hundreds of people fought the proposals back in 2010.
Ann Allen, of the Mereside Tenants and Residents Association, who was among those who campaigned against the new children’s home, which was designed to house troubled teens, said: “We felt the company which wanted to open a home there, was more interested in building up a property portfolio than providing care.”
She added: “Blackpool also takes in children from other parts of the North West, such as Manchester, so it would not necessarily have even been local children living there.”