Tuesday, November 9, 1999 Published at 05:04 GMT
£1.85m drive for foster carers
Children who are in and out of care homes often suffer in later life
The government is expected to announce a £1.85m campaign to increase the number of foster carers in England.
Care agencies have long complained of a shortage of appropriate foster parents, particularly for ethnic minority children.
They say this leads to more children being left in care homes, increasing their chances of suffering educationally and socially.
The move comes after the introduction of new vetting procedures to cut down on abuse by foster parents and new standards to provide parents and children with better support.
According to government statistics, 55,300 children in England are in local authority care, of whom 65% are with foster parents.
Many are older children or teenagers and have behavioural problems. They may be traumatised, angry or confused.
Launching the new standards earlier this year, the government promised an extra £6m over a three-year period to back them up.
This includes help local authorities pay for carers to receive an annual review and to give them an allowance and expenses which cover the "full cost of caring for each child or young person placed with them".
The British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) says it is important foster care is given a higher priority.
It has been calling for a national and local recruitment drive for some time, saying there is an urgent need for more suitable foster carers.
It says children who have had bad experiences in care are more likely to be unemployed, be homeless and have problems looking after their own children.
Health Minister John Hutton said: "We are all engaged on an exciting programme of change. It is a programme that will demand creativity, imagination and a rigorous focus on results. The challenge is to make it happen."