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7 January 2016, 07:19
Eight hundred more foster families are urgently needed across Scotland this year, according to new figures.
The Fostering Network said there is a particular requirement to provide homes for teenagers, siblings, children with disabilities and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
The charity is concerned that without enough families in Scotland, children could be placed many miles from their school, friends and family, and brothers and sisters could be split up.
This could then risk the child's placement breaking down, the organisation warned.
Sara Lurie, director of the Fostering Network in Scotland, said: "For some children they're not able to be looked after by their mum or dad, no matter how much they might love them. Due to often sad and tragic circumstances, these children require the love and care of a foster family.
"We want Scotland to be the very best place for all children to grow up, and that means that for any child who is not able to live with their own birth family they still have the opportunity to experience normal family life. All children should feel safe, cared for, loved, understood and believed in. Foster carers give children this opportunity.
"The work of foster families contributes not only to society now, but in the future as young people who live with foster carers grow up with a more positive future ahead.
"By recruiting more foster carers we can provide a wider pool of potential foster families so that every time a child needs a foster family, they have the best chance of finding the foster family who best meets their individual needs.''
She said all prospective foster carers receive training as part of their initial assessment, with a range of ongoing support and training available following an approval.
The Fostering Network calculates recruitment targets every year, taking into account a number of factors including the percentage of the foster carer workforce leaving and the rise in the number of children in care.
It said 5,533 children live with more than 4,450 foster families across Scotland each day.
The charity also revealed there is need for 7,600 foster families in England, 500 in Wales and 170 in Northern Ireland.
The figures come after it released a survey last year showing two in five of fostered teenagers across the UK are already living with their third foster family since coming into care, and one in 20 are living with their tenth family in foster care.