There is an urgent local requirement for 10 families to look after teenagers who cannot live at home, the Kingston fostering service has announced.
The news was revealed after a warning was issued by charity the Fostering Network, in a situation being described as a national fostering crisis.
Kingston fostering team leader Anne Harvey-Jenner said: “We currently have a pressing need for carers with the confidence and skills to provide safe, stable placements for teenagers who may need time away from their families on a short-term basis.”
In recent years the number of children to have come into care in Kingston has increased substantially, from 61 in 2007 to 89 at the end of 2011.
Of these, 39 children are over 12 years old, seen as the most difficult age group to find placements. It is in this category that this urgent requirement has emerged.
Ms Harvey-Jenner added: “Parents whose own teenagers have grown up and left home or teachers, youth workers and others who have worked with young people have the skills which are particularly valuable to us and we would also offer supportive training to develop these skills further.”
There are a number of reasons why teenagers cannot live at home, but the most common is because their parents are unable to look after them.
The reasons for this vary. The parents may have an addiction to drugs or alcohol or suffer from mental health problems. This can cause the child to be neglected or abused. Sometimes a crisis, such as long term illness, death or imprisonment, has struck the family.
Councillor Patricia Bamford, executive member for safeguarding and children first, said: “Fostering is such a valuable service for all involved. At a disruptive time in their lives, young people need some continuity which is why we need local placements.”
In the UK, the Fostering Network admitted that there will be a need for 8,750 new carers over the next 12 months.
For any families that might be interested in coming forward, the fostering team can be contacted on 020 8547 6042.
See www.kingston.gov.uk/fostering for more information.