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Lochaber MSP Kate Forbes says she finds it ‘heart-breaking’ that some of her youngest and most vulnerable constituents are being sent miles away from their home areas due to a lack of foster carers in Highland region.
In an effort to tackle the issue, Ms Forbes has launched a new campaign aimed at increasing the number of foster carers in the Highlands – and thus preventing children from being placed such far distances away.
It is understood that there are 30 children in Highland Council’s area waiting for an adoptive home, as well as five children waiting for a permanent foster family and 10 children who are in need of a respite foster family.
The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch’s investigation also found that there are only 133 registered foster carers in the region (some of these will be couples, so not all individual carers).
According to the latest figures obtained under Freedom of Information requests, Highland Council is responsible for 122 children in foster care, 61 in residential care, 41 with independent agencies and 100 in kinship care.
Ms Forbes commented: ‘I am elected to represent all the people of my constituency and it breaks my heart that some of the littlest and most vulnerable of my constituents are sent miles and miles away because of lack of foster carers locally.
‘The Highlands is one of the most welcoming places, with a big heart for hospitality.
‘That should extend to those in the care system who, for whatever reason, cannot stay with their birth parents and need us to step up to the mark and care for them.
‘There are, of course, many changes required but the first is for the people of our communities to see the need on their front doorstep.’
Ms Forbes says she intends making further suggestions on how the number of foster carers in the Highlands could be increased in the coming weeks.