Appeal for 250 new foster families as care system creaks
Another 250 new foster families are needed here this year, a charity has warned.
The Fostering Network's call comes at the start of its annual Foster Care Fortnight campaign.
Around 2,400 children are living with foster families each day in Northern Ireland.
According to figures published today, at least 8,600 new foster families are needed across the UK, including 250 here, during 2019 to provide stable, secure and caring homes for fostered children.
Some 7,220 are needed in England with a further 580 in Scotland and 550 in Wales.
The Fostering Network said that without more people coming forward, some children may find themselves separated from their brothers and sisters, living a long way from school or having multiple moves before finding a more permanent home.
Its local director, Kathleen Toner, said: "We currently have the highest number of children in the care system since records began and the need for people to consider fostering has never been greater.
"We are calling on people who think they can change a child's future to come forward this Foster Care Fortnight.
"Fostering can be life-changing for both the child or young person being fostered and for the family that cares for them.
"Foster carers do something amazing on behalf of our society, making a real difference to a child's life.
"On any given day in Northern Ireland there are around 2,400 children living with foster families who ensure that these children and young people experience the stability and security of a nurturing, loving home."
Regina, a foster carer from Downpatrick, said: "Opening your heart and your home to a stranger is never easy, but it will be worth it. Totally!"
This year's campaign runs from May 13-26.
Its theme is #changeafuture, highlighting the positive impact foster care can have on fostered children's futures and encouraging more people to come forward to foster.
Anyone interested in fostering can visit thefosteringnetwork.org.uk or follow the Foster Care Fortnight campaign using #changeafuture.