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A government campaign to recruit 7,000 foster carers was launched today by John Hutton, minister for social care. ...
A government campaign to recruit 7,000 foster carers was launched today by John Hutton, minister for social care.

The 'fostering network' is a£2m joint venture between the Department of Health and the National Foster Care Association, a leading advisory body on fostering.

Announcing the start of the campaign, Mr Hutton said: 'Foster carers are vitally important; the majority of children looked after by local authorities - who cannot be with their own families - live with foster carers. Their hard work is crucial to the success of caring properly for children.

'Fostering is designed to help support and keep families together. But the main problems facing our fostering services at the moment are a national shortage of foster carers and a resultant lack of placement choice, especially for disabled children and those from ethnic minorities.

'We need to recruit an extra 7,000 more foster carers. And these carers need to, and should come, from all walks of life. I would urge everyone who feels they have something to offer to these children to get in contact.'

Elements of the recruitment campaign are:

The launch of a national helpline which people can ring to ask for more information on fostering. The number is 08000 965985.

A website where people can discover what fostering entails, how it has affected the lives of both carers and cared-for children, and which will provide them with information on how to become a foster carer. The website address is:

A national advertising campaign that will be launched in September.

Gerri McAndrew, executive director of the National Foster Care Association, said the demand for foster care had never been greater.

'Local councils are reporting a damaging shortage of foster carers - a shortage which has a real, detrimental effect on our children's lives. We need more people, urgently,' she said.

'Foster care provides the very foundations of our childcare system, a stable environment in which young people can feel well cared for, valued and supported. The benefits of foster care are now so widely recognised that the demand for it has never been greater.'

Gerri McAndrew said she wanted to challenge the image that to foster you must be married and have had children of your own.

'We do need mums and dads, but we also need people who have never had children of their own. We need people of all ages, races and religions. It doesn't matter if you've got a job or you're unemployed, if you own your own home or rent it.'

'The campaign wants to hear from anyone who feels they can rise to the demanding - but very rewarding - challenge.'

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