A SINGLE mum is calling for more people to become foster parents.
A record 4,100 children are already living with foster families in the North East – but there is still a shortfall of about 450 carers.
Foster Care Fortnight has been running for the past two weeks, organised by the Fostering Network to highlight the need for more people.
According to the network, 13 per cent of carers leave every year and need to be replaced.
Judy Kerry decided to foster after saying she suffered from empty nest syndrome when her children, Jenna, 28, and James, 30, left home.
The 57-year-old, of Biddick, applied to be a carer with Barnardo’s North East about two years ago.
“I felt a terrible void in my life and started to consider fostering, and I was surprised at how quick the process was,” she said.
“Alice was with me within a year, and she’s been with me for about that now too. She’s given me a new lease of life.”
The Fostering Network say the figures, released in February, show the scale of the problem in providing the right homes for children.
Its chief executive, Robert Tapsfield, said: “The continuing rise of children coming into care means hundreds more are still needed in the North East this year alone.
“These children need a stable family life, and fostering services are looking for people from all walks of life, of all ages, and from single people to large families.”
Full-time foster carer Judy now recruits people to foster children.
She said everyone should consider fostering if they are able, and single people shouldn’t be put off.
“I think single people are more free to approach it because of their status,” she said.
“I bet there are a lot whose kids have left home who are perfect for the role.
“I always recruit people – one of my single friends is going through the process at the moment.”
The former pub manager said Alice, 13, has become a welcome addition to her family.
“There are always going to be a few teething problems,” she said.
“But you don’t think of them as problems, because moving into a new family is always going to be an adjustment, and they teach you about it in training.
“As far as I’m concerned, she is with me for good, not 18, when she is due to come out of the care system.”