The hunt for foster carers is being stepped up in Merton in a bid to find homes for more than 160 children in care in the borough.

Nationally there is a foster carer shortage and Merton Council is boosting its recruitment campaign further, with homes needed in particular for teenagers and sibling groups.

New foster carers in Merton get a full support package including ongoing training, up to over £500 per child per week, additional allowances for special occasions - eg £200 for holidays, £100 for Christmas and birthdays - a dedicated supervising social worker, a 24-hour free helpline and a 'buddy scheme'.

Merton Council's cabinet member for children's services Katy Neep said: "There are a number of misconceptions around fostering. People sometimes don’t consider themselves eligible when in fact they would be perfect as a foster carer able to provide a loving and caring home for a young person. At Merton we pride ourselves on being a great place for families, so we urge anyone considering fostering to join us and provide life-changing care for young people.”

Anyone can foster a child provided they are aged 21 or over, have experience with children and young people, a spare bedroom and enough time, patience, resilience and understanding to take on the role. You would also need to have access to practical help and emotional support from your family or community.

Foster carers can own their own home or live in rented accommodation, work part-time or be in receipt of benefits and still be eligible to be paid as a foster carer. They can also be single or married, heterosexual or a member of the LGBT community. It is possible to foster a child for as short as one night or as long as 18 years.

Merton Council's social workers hold preparation training courses throughout the year to help you decide which age child will fit in with your family circumstances.

For more information call 0800 073 0874 or 020 8545 4070 or email

Regular fostering information events are held at Morden Baptist Church. The next ones are from 10.30am on February 14, 6.30pm on February 28 and 10.30am on March 14.