THE DORSET branch of a national fostering agency is appealing for new foster parents to come forward amid a surge in demand for care.

As Ofsted reveals capacity is still ‘nowhere near enough to meet demand,' ISP, an independent therapeutic fostering agency, is calling out for caring individuals to consider a career in fostering in 2021, and is hosting virtual information evenings for those who are interested in becoming foster parents.

As of November 2020, Ofsted revealed that 56,500 children were living in a foster home in England, with a three per cent increase in filled places from 2019 to 2020.

However, with unavailable places also rising and an ageing population of carers, Ofsted’s report warns of trouble for the future.

The report has also shown there is little change in capacity, adding to concerns about the difficulty in finding suitable care for the most vulnerable children in an over-stretched system.

Prior to the pandemic, ISP was hosting regular drop-in events where members of the local community could pop in and hear first-hand experiences from existing foster parents.

In order to ensure people can still discover more about life as a foster parent in a non-pressurised environment,weekly virtual information evenings are being held throughout lockdown, where individuals and families are able to join ISP every Thursday evening at 7pm via Microsoft Teams.

The sessions provide an insight into the specialist training, support and allowances that foster parents receive when working with ISP. Individuals are invited to ask any questions they may have, as well as discover the next steps they need to take in order to start the assessment process.

Emma Hannett, ISP Dorset registered manager, said: “As Ofsted’s most recent report has shown, there are thousands of children in need of a safe and secure environment to live in and we are trying to do everything we can to provide that for them.

“We want to make sure that anyone who is interested or curious about fostering is comfortable in coming forward to find out more about the role and what will be involved. We have found that many people don’t realise that fostering is a paid, professional role and there is support available for every step of their fostering journey, so these virtual sessions are designed to provide an honest overview of every aspect of the role.

“Children of all ages are in need of love and care, so we are inviting anyone who is interested in becoming a vital pillar of support to join us in order to find out more.”

ISP has adapted to provide support to their existing and prospective foster parents with home visits and assessments now being conducted virtually.

To register for one of the weekly events visit www.ispfostering.org.uk/resources/events

For more information visit ispfostering.org.uk/ or call 0800 0857989