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'Frightening' increase in Solihull child care cases; " Councilloks to recruit more foster carers.

Byline: DAVID IRWIN News Reporter

A RECORD number of children are in care in Solihull - including unaccompanied asylum seekers.

The figure has now hit nearly 450 cases and continues to rise.

Sixty seven of the children are unaccompanied asylum seekers, while the remainder are brought into care because of domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse or mental health issues.

The council is now desperate to recruit more foster carers if it is to avoid relying on expensive agency workers.

Councillor Ken Meeson, cabinet member for children, education and skills, told a scrutiny board: "While we have more children coming into care, we don't have more foster carers, so that obviously makes life difficult in finding placements for them.

"And we're having to use more agency workers than we would wish to. Agency workers cost us more and we'd much rather have our own local foster carers."

Councillor James Butler (Con, Blythe) said that getting more foster carers was the "crux of the issue".

"Using agency workers is extremely expensive, I would guess," he said.

"How are we reaching out to potential foster carers?" Councillor Meeson said that the council was advertising but faced competition from other local authorities and the private sector.

Councillor Peter Hogarth (Con, Silhill) said the recent surge in care cases was "quite frightening" and had asked for more detail about the reasons for children being taken into care. "I find the numbers rather horrifying," he said.

Louise Rees, director of children's services, said: "For us it's very much a last resort, we would always want to work with the families for them to be able to safely work with their children."

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jun 7, 2019
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