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Last Updated: Monday, 23 August, 2004, 19:40 GMT 20:40 UK
Children 'failed' by carer system
Children are suffering because of a lack of foster carers
A severe lack of foster carers is blighting the lives of thousands of children, a charity claims.

The Fostering Network warns the situation is so bad that the government needs to step in.

Local authorities are struggling to recruit the 8,200 foster carers needed to plug the gaps - a jump of more than a third since 2002.

London is the worst off, it needs 2,000 extra carers, followed by the North West which needs 1,700.

The North East also desperately needs an extra 1,300 foster carers to cope with demand.

The charity is blaming the recruitment problems on the fact that many carers feel they are being left out of pocket.

'Badly disrupted'

Robert Tapsfield, executive director of the Fostering Network, said: "The shortage has reached critical levels.

"Too many children's lives are being badly disrupted with frequent moves and foster homes a long way from family, friends and school.

"The system is failing to provide these vulnerable children with the stability and security they need."

The charity is calling on the government to introduce a national minimum fostering allowance.

These currently start at between 50 to 80 per child (aged 0-4) per week.

The charity wants this figure to rise to at least 108 per child per week.

Other areas which are struggling include the South East which needs an extra 850 carers; the West Midlands and the East which both need 650; the South West which needs 600; and the East Midlands which needs 450 more carers.

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