The shortage of foster carers in Northern Ireland is reaching crisis point, according to a leading children’s charity.
Action for Children Northern Ireland has revealed that 170 carers are urgently needed in the region to meet the immediate need for placement.
Some children are having to be moved up to 70 miles from their home because there are no carers in their own areas, the charity said.
Avery Bowser, children’s services manager at Action for Children Northern Ireland, said: “We have children who desperately need a secure and loving home in Northern Ireland. We simply don’t have enough carers.
“Because of the shortage of foster carers across Northern Ireland this often results in children being placed a long way from home.
“Action for Children is appealing for really special people to come forward who have resilience, patience and flexibility to meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable children.”
" Currently the situation is nearing crisis point. We are constantly being approached to provide placements for children in the most desperate need and we simply don’t have enough people in the right place at the right time to help."
– AVERY BOWSER, ACTION FOR CHILDREN NORTHERN IRELAND
Mr Bowser explained that children in need of foster care that can’t be placed nearer to their home have difficulty maintaining links with their family and community.
“This affects the chances of the children returning home and has a negative impact on the long-term outcome for the child,” he said.
Action for Children Northern Ireland has been working closely with Health and Social Care Trusts to help them meet the urgent need for placements in their localities.
“The need is widespread across Northern Ireland,” Mr Bowser added.
“For instance in Belfast we need another 32 foster families while in Derry another nine are needed.
“In the Northern Trust area where we are particularly keen to attract carers - we need another 44 from Carrickfergus to Coleraine to Cookstown and all points in between. In the Southern Trust, another priority area for us, there is a need for another 34 carers this year.”
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