Do you think you could open your home and become a foster carer?
According to research, a lack of awareness about the financial benefits available for foster carers is affecting the number of people exploring the profession in the North East.
Five Rivers Child Care surveyed 2,000 people to mark Foster Care Fortnight, which runs until next Sunday (May 27).
There is a nationwide shortfall of more than 7,000 foster carers across the UK - and our region is facing a shortfall of around 360 carers.
Foster carers can be paid a fee of up to £25,000 a year - but 60% of those surveyed in the North East didn't know potential foster carers were eligible for this.
Martin Leitch, Head of Fostering Operations for Five Rivers Child Care, said: “The ongoing shortfall has a direct impact on the thousands of children across the UK currently waiting to be re-homed with loving foster families.
"The industry as a whole has worked extremely hard over recent years to increase professionalism for the benefit of children and young people and now a better understanding of foster care as a career option needed if we are to rectify the shortage."
Almost a quarter of those questioned in the North East (24%) are reluctant to pursue fostering as they believe they don't meet the appropriate criteria, while 63% are unaware that childless individuals or couples can foster.
Mr Leitch continued: "Our latest research reveals that over half of the British public would consider fostering, but they are deterred by the out-of-date misconceptions that are no longer relevant.
"If we could even encourage 10 percent of them to get in touch and explore the possibility of fostering as a career option, we could stem the shortfall."
People from all walks of life can become foster carers as long as they are over 21 years of age, including single people, co-habiting couples, same sex couples and people living in rented accommodation.
The only requirement is a spare room for each foster child.
For more information about fostering contact Five Rivers Child Care on 0345 266 0272 or visit them online.