We have had to change the way that some of our services operate to meet the guidelines set out by the government in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Many of our local foster carers in Torbay have described fostering as a ‘gift’ and a ‘privilege’ and said that when you become a foster carer, you join the wider Torbay fostering ‘family’ and have access to not only local council services but a big local peer support network of other foster carers.

As with most other areas, we really need to recruit more foster carers in Torbay and find a loving home for children in care – and that’s where you come in. There are currently 351 looked after children in Torbay, and of these, 226 are living with foster carers. We also need more local foster carers as nearly 40% of looked after children from Torbay live more than 20 miles away from home (compared to a national average of 13%).

Foster carers provide a safe and loving home for children aged 0-18 years who are in our care. Children live with them as part of the family. We have a responsibility to make sure we find the most suitable people to perform this important role.

Children are fostered when they can’t live at home with their birth families. It's usually a short-term arrangement before a child returns home, moves to relatives or is adopted, but some children remain in long-term foster care until they are 18.

There is a big difference between fostering and adoption. A foster carer knows that the child they are looking after is not theirs and will move on eventually, while an adopter becomes the legal parent of a child forever.

Most of our foster carers live in or around Torbay, which means that the children we look after can stay close to the people and places they know and remain at the same school. Wherever possible, we also try to match children with foster carers who reflect their cultural heritage and other needs. We have increasing numbers of children from all kinds of backgrounds, so we need local foster carers from all walks of life.

As well as fostering being one of the most fulfilling and rewarding things you can do, we have recently had plans approved to increase the amount we pay foster carers and ensure that better training and support is in place.