According to new figures released today by The Fostering Network, 500 new foster families are required in Wales this year to ensure the provision of stable, secure and loving homes for children in need of foster care.
Rebecca Evans, Welsh Labour candidate for this year's Assembly elections in Gower, is asking local people to consider whether they could provide a home for one or more foster children.
Rebecca Evans said: "Without more foster families coming forward in 2016 there is a real danger that some children and young people in need of foster care will find themselves living a long way from their birth family, school and friends. This can be traumatic, upsetting and unsettling.
"Foster children may also be split up from brothers and sisters, or be placed with a foster family which doesn't have quite the right mix of skills and experience to meet their individual needs, risking a breakdown in the placement. A wider pool of foster carers will help make sure the child or young person gets the right placement first time."
The Fostering Network says that there is a particularly urgent and ongoing need for foster families to provide homes for teenagers, disabled children, unaccompanied asylum seeking children, and sibling groups - although foster carers who choose to foster children and young people from groups that are sometimes thought of as 'hard to place' know how rewarding it can be.
Rebecca Evans added: "We are seeing a rising number of children entering foster care. Couple this with the fact that around 12 per cent of foster carers retired or left fostering last year, and there is a clear need to recruit more foster carers. We also need to consider how we can better utilise the current pool of foster carers to best meet the needs of the children and young people in foster care.
"Foster carers provide an invaluable service, and I am full of admiration and appreciation for the contribution they make in offering children and young people supportive and happy homes that they may not otherwise have. I am asking people across Gower who don't already foster to consider whether they could be one of those additional 500 foster families that Wales needs this year to offer a safe, stable and loving home to a child who needs one."
Prospective foster carers will receive training and support from their fostering service before they foster. They will need a range of skills, including patience, the ability to listen, being a team player and being able to advocate on behalf of a child, a sense of humour and much more besides. If you think you have what it takes to become a foster carer, visit couldyoufoster.org.uk today.
Notes to editors:
4,255 children live with over 3,650 foster families across Wales.