More than 8,500 foster carers are required across the UK next year, The Fostering Network has warned.
Taking into consideration factors such as the percentage of the foster carer workforce leaving each year and the change in the numbers of children in care, the charity states that more than 8,500 foster carers are needed to look after vulnerable children.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network said: "Fostering is life-changing for both the child or young person being fostered and for the family that cares for them.
"Foster carers do something amazing on behalf of our society – making a real difference to a child’s life. Across the UK a child comes into care in need of a foster family every 20 minutes. On any given day, there are around 65,000 children living in foster care with thousands of foster families who are working tirelessly to ensure that these children and young people experience the stability and security of a nurturing, loving home," he added.
But the latest figures show that 7,220 new foster families are needed in England alone with a further, 250 required in Northern Ireland, 580 in Scotland and 550 in Wales.
The Fostering Network warns that without new foster families - particularly those that could foster teenagers and sibling groups – some children will find themselves living a long way from their family, school and friends, being split up from brothers and sisters, or being matched with a foster carer who might not have the relevant skills and experience to meet their specific needs.
The Fostering Network’s call for more foster families comes at the start of its annual Foster Care Fortnight TM campaign (13-26 May) which has the theme of #changeafuture, highlighting the positive impact foster care can have on fostered children’s futures and encouraging more people to come forward to foster.
Kevin Williams added: "Along with fostering services around the UK, we are calling on people who think they have the right skills and experience to change a fostered child’s future, to find out more about fostering this Foster Care Fortnight."
Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said: “Foster carers do an amazing job looking after vulnerable children and councils cannot keep children safe without them.
“It is no exaggeration to say that the contribution foster carers make to improving the lives of some of society’s most vulnerable children is often heroic, changing the lives of children across the country every day.
“With 88 children entering care every day, it’s vital that we have the right foster carers to keep them safe, happy and well, and we encourage anyone who’d like to find out more to get in touch with their local council," she concluded.
Anyone interested in fostering can visit thefosteringnetwork.org.uk to find out more, or they can follow the Foster Care Fortnight campaign using #changeafuture.