£1.2m boost to help tackle foster care crisis and help children in care

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It is hoped the funding will encourage and retain more foster carers

Blackpool is among five councils which will benefit from a £1.2m injection of cash aimed at tackling a crisis in foster caring in the North West.

The funding from the Department for Education will be used to create a regional fostering hub which will be the first point of call for anyone interested in fostering children. It comes after a warning more foster carers left the system in recent times than signed up.

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The hub, expected to be in place by April 2024, will offer a dedicated welcome to potential foster carers. Experienced staff will answer inquiries and guide applicants through the process in the hope this will improve retention rates.

Coun Jim Hobson, Blackpool Council cabinet member for children’s social care, said: “Foster carer numbers are falling with more foster carers leaving than joining last year, which is why we’re working harder than ever to encourage more people into foster care.”

Lancashire County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Council, Cumberland Council, and Westmorland and Furness Council are also part of the regional hub.

Funding in Blackpool, where the latest figures show 534 children are living in care, will also be used to set up a stronger support network for foster carers. A community of six to 10 satellite foster families called a ‘constellation will be established,  offering peer support for foster carers and guidance alongside social activities and sleepovers to strengthen relationships.

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It is hoped to reduce the drop-out rate from fostering, with national figures showing 138,000 inquiries leading to just 8,000 applications, of which only around 4,000 are ultimately approved.

Coun Hobson added: “We hope that this collaborative approach to foster carer recruitment will encourage more people to come forward and consider fostering in Blackpool and across Lancashire. If you have what it takes to be a foster carer or know someone who might be suitable, please get in touch with our friendly team and find out more.”

During the next two years, the government has pledged to deliver a fostering recruitment and retention programme so foster care is available for more children who need it. In total, there will be 10 similar clusters running this programme across the country, comprised of 98 local authorities.

To find out more about fostering with Blackpool Council, visit www.blackpool.gov.uk/Fostering or call 01253 420222.

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