Adult and social care services in Lincolnshire have been placed under “immense pressure” and “really struggled” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lincolnshire County Council has confirmed that 60 more children are now in care than at the beginning of the epidemic, an increase of 10%.
However, bosses say that the number of people applying to become foster carers has continued to grow, despite a reduction in the number of families available and an increase in the number of children having to be placed elsewhere due to self-isolation requirements.
Councillor Patricia Bradwell, Lincolnshire County Council’s executive member for children’s services, told the authority’s leadership during a meeting on Monday: “Obviously adult care and children’s social care have been under immense pressure with the pandemic.
“Very vulnerable adults and very vulnerable children have not been able to get out or actually live their normal lives like going to school, and young people in care really did struggle.
“We did have more children come into care […] there has been a lot of fallout with the children and older people who we look after because of the way that the pandemic has affected us.”
Following the meeting, Janice Spencer, assistant director for children’s services at LCC, said most children continued to be placed “very successfully” with Lincolnshire foster carers.
“However, some foster carers have had to self-isolate because of their age or health needs, and this has resulted in a reduction in the number of families available and an increase in the number of children who have had to be placed with alternative providers of foster carer or children’s homes,” she said.
“For each of these children, placements are offered that best meet their needs. Those placed outside the county will return if placements become available and if their needs are more likely to be met nearer to their communities.”
She added: “The council has continued to promote fostering and, even at such an unprecedented time, the interest from the public in becoming a foster carer has continued to grow, with the number to be approved this year likely to be 30% higher than the previous year.”
Children’s Mental Health week takes place from February 1-7 and Lincolnshire County Council has been promoting the wide range of mental health support services on offer in the county.
Councillor Bradwell said: “We know that the pandemic has been really tough on our young people, particularly lockdown.
“So we want to reassure those that are struggling that they are not alone.”
Those interested in fostering can do so by visiting www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/fostering or calling 01522 554114
For more information visit www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/emotionalwellbeing