Increase in number of city’s children in care renews appeal for foster carers

The number of children in care in Wakefield has risen over the last year.
The number of children in care in Wakefield has risen over the last year.

The number of children being placed into care in Wakefield has risen by 12 per cent in less than a year.

A total of 574 youngsters were being looked after by Wakefield Council at the end of February this year, up 61 from April 2017.

The local authority has renewed a long-standing appeal for more foster carers to come forward, to help cope with demand.

The figures were revealed in cabinet papers as councillors prepare to discuss the state of the local authority’s finances next week.

The sharp increase in children being placed into care has inceased pressure on the council resources, with the papers indicating that the children and young people’s budget is likely to be overspent this year because so many youngsters have been deemed to be vulnerable.

The financial health report, which will be put before councillors on Tuesday, said: “Overall the Directorate is forecast to overspend by £3.3m, against a net budget of £50m.

“The forecast overspend reflects continuing demand pressures in terms of referrals into Children’s social care and increasing numbers of children in care, 574 at the end of February, which represents an increase of 61 looked after children since April 2017.”

The council is now urging more people to consider the prospect of becoming a foster carer.

Anyone over the age of 21 with a spare of room is able to apply, and can be approved regardless of their marital status, sexuality, religious or cultural background. They don’t have to be a homeowner, in employment or have children of their own.

Coun Margaret Isherwood, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Fostering can be extremely rewarding and it offers people the opportunity to use their skills to help shape a child’s future for the better.

“If you think you can provide a supportive and stable environment for children or young people, please get in touch to find out more.”