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Rise in child fostering requests

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By Marc Mclean, Local Democracy Reporter
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Rise in child fostering requests

SOCIAL work services in Dumfries and Galloway are struggling to cope with an increase in children being put up for adoption or foster care.

The pressures of the pandemic are still being felt and the council cannot meet all adoption requirements or find enough foster parents due to the additional demand.

Despite upping its family placements budget by £50,000 to £5.84m this financial year, an overspend of £288,000 is already being projected as the social work department desperately tries to find ways of rehoming children.

At the social work services committee this week, chief social work officer Lillian Cringles said: “Particularly in children’s services we are dealing with significant challenges for a lot of our young people in the region.

“We have had an increase in intervention requirements. We’ve had to increase our fostering and adoption placements.

“We’ve had to increase our early intervention team and some of the support which surrounds that.

“We have been running a campaign to try and increase the number of foster carers we have in the region, however we are facing a challenge where other areas are giving far better terms and conditions to foster parents to meet some of that demand.

“So, we have had to use some wider national organisations to assist us. What we are trying to do is bring that back in within budget, but it would be inappropriate for me not to raise with members the real challenge the service is facing in trying to meet the significantly increasing demand around all aspects of our service.”

North West Dumfries Councillor Andy Ferguson highlighted that there was a recent government announcement of funding support for health and social care services.

He asked: “When will we know what our share of that is, and how it’s going to impact on the budget as we go forward?”

Lillian Cringles replied: “That will be for adult services. Our biggest challenge, at this moment in time, is children’s services, and some additional pressures on our mental health service in our justice teams.”

She added: “In the last three to four years, we have had no additional funding directly to social work for children’s services.”

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