Published Wednesday, 08 January 2014
An appeal has been made for more foster carers. (© Getty)
More families are needed, not only to replace the 12% who leave the service each year, but to ensure that children find carers who are right for them and have the skills and qualities needed to provide care.
Currently around 2,100 children are cared for by around 2000 foster families in Northern Ireland.
More families are particularly needed to provide homes for teenagers, children with disabilities and sibling groups, the organisation said.
Volunteers are needed to help keep children close to their families, friends and schools.
Robert Tapsfield, Fostering Network's chief executive, said: "Children and young people come into care for a wide range of reasons, but all come needing professional, dedicated and compassionate support.
"Foster carers are remarkable people who open their homes to some of society's most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people."
He added: "Recruitment of families remains an ongoing challenge.
"Fostering services across the UK need to attract a diverse range of foster carers who can meet the needs of children in care and who can offer as much choice as possible so that they can find the right home for each child, first time.
"We urgently need people who believe that they have the right skills and qualities to foster to come forward and make a long lasting positive difference to the life of a child.
"In particular, foster carers are needed to provide homes for teenagers and children with disabilities, and to help sibling groups stay together."
Co Down mother of one Kathy Lamont has been fostering for six years.
A single parent with a 13-year-old daughter, she is currently caring for a seven-year-old girl.
"I find it totally rewarding," she said, before adding: "It's the best thing that has ever happened in my family.
"Children just want to be loved, they just want to have normality and a routine, and basically if you can provide that, the rewards are fantastic."
Kathy told UTV that a big heart, lots of patience and an open mind is needed for the role of foster carer.
She added: "If you go ahead and make the leap and make that phone call I think you'll just get on a journey that will be absolutely fantastic and it's so rewarding, I just think it opens your mind and opens your life to so many things."
The Fostering Network is urging people interested in becoming a carer to contact their local fostering service.
© UTV News