Northern Ireland

NI needs 200 new foster families says Fostering Network

At least 200 new foster families will be needed in Northern Ireland this year to keep up with increasing demand, a charity has said.

Single, unemployed and gay people are among those who can become carers, the Fostering Network said.

The charity's Northern Ireland director, Margaret Kelly, said more children were being taken into care.

"Some of that, we think, is linked to the outcomes of the Baby P case in England," she said.

"It's also the impact of the recession where unfortunately families get into more difficulties and children get neglected."

She added: "There are fewer children who now live in residential care and more are in foster care, and we welcome that because we think it is best for children to live in family settings."

The charity said there was a greater need for foster families to provide homes for children with disabilities, sibling groups and teenagers.

About 45% of young people in care in Northern Ireland are 12 or over, the charity said.

Almost 2,100 children currently live with about 2,000 foster families in Northern Ireland.

More families are needed to replace the 12% who leave each year, as well as to provide a more diverse range to match children's individual needs, the charity said.

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