A Horley-based foster care service is calling for more people to consider joining its network of foster carers ahead of next month's Fostering Fortnight.
The two-week event running from Monday, May 12, through to Sunday, May 25, aims to shine a light on the importance of the country's Fostering Network.
On any one day, there are more than 62,000 children living with foster families across the UK. More children come into care every day and the Fostering Network estimates that a further 8,600 foster carers are needed this year alone to provide supportive, stable and caring homes for these vulnerable children.
Around two-fifths of the children in care are aged 11 to 15, although children of all ages are in need of loving homes and families, as well as siblings who need a home together.
Cornerways, which is based in Horley, provides a caring service for looked after children in small residential homes, foster families and at Cornfield School in Redhill.
A spokeswoman for Cornerways said: “Fostering involves you looking after and parenting children in your own home when they are unable to live with their own birth family.
“Some children stay a few days, others stay months or the rest of their childhood. “Almost all children and teenagers in foster care have faced difficult and unhappy situations in their birth families.”
She continued: “Foster carers are part of a team around a foster child, they have the full-time day-to-day care responsibilities and work with visiting social workers and other professionals to make sure the child gets the help they need.”
She said: “There are plans and expectations to work to, and many of our foster carers choose to foster as a vocational career move because they like working with children, as part of a team, and they want to make a difference in the community.
“Helping a child to keep in contact and maintain relationships with their birth parents and families is likely to be part of any foster carer's work.”
Cornerways Fostering has about 30 foster carers currently looking after around 35 children.
The foster carers live in a focused geographical area, stretching from Brighton and Portsmouth on the coast, up to Sutton and Croydon in South London, and all the areas in-between.
The spokeswoman said: “Our carers around Crawley and Redhill are a mix of single people and couples, aged 25-plus, caring for children from babies to 18-years-old. “Our training for foster carers is often delivered at our Horley office or close by. “We have contracts with the nearby local authorities - Surrey, Brighton and Hove, West Sussex and South London Boroughs - and many other authorities further away.”
She said: “Our foster carers are in demand and valued by these authorities for their child care and hard work.
“All of the young people we care for need the time, care and attention of a Foster Carer so that they can enjoy life safely and successfully move on into adult life.”
Cornerways is currently recruiting foster carers and their staff are always interested in talking to people who may be considering becoming foster carers.
The spokeswoman said: “Being small, we are able to offer our carers close support, guidance and training, and we are always very careful about how we match a child’s needs with what our foster carers can offer, so that it all works well for the child and the foster carers.”
People interested in becoming foster carers or wanting more information should visit Cornerways' website at: www.cornerways.org or call 01293 826830.
Alternatively, people can email: firstname.lastname@example.org