Plea for more Norfolk foster carers after coronavirus hits recruitment
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A plea has been made for more people to come forward as foster carers in Norfolk to offer loving homes to some of the county's most vulnerable children.
And Norfolk County Council is particularly keen to recruit more foster carers to take care of children aged eight and above - and especially teenagers.
The council says the coronavirus pandemic has hit their targets to recruit more foster carers.
More than 40 fostering households were registered in 2020/21, but the council also lost a similar number, with Covid-19 playing what council bosses described as a "significant role" in foster carers deciding to retire.
But the council has set a target to recruit 64 more foster carers in 2021/22.
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And they are particularly keen to find foster carers for children aged over eight and teenagers.
Bill Borrett, cabinet member for adult social care, said: "The impact that foster parents can have is immense, when you look at the outcomes for vulnerable people.
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"Foster carers have been providing a caring and safe environment in lives that are often very disrupted.
"There has been a huge commitment during the pandemic from foster carers and I'd like to thank them for everything they have done."
Among the foster carers are Johanna Thorne and her husband Phil, from Norwich.
They have fostered 82 children since they first took in a young girl, aged 15, who had turned up looking for help at a church minister's doorstep, more than 30 years ago.
Mrs Thorne, who has two grown-up sons, said: "Every child is completely different and, on the one hand, it is the most rewarding, fulfilling thing I have ever done and sometimes it is the most maddening thing I've ever done.
"But then I think that's true of every parent and, as a family, it has completed us, I think.
"One of the things about fostering teenagers is that you are seeing them becoming the men and women they will be in the future. That is a wonderful experience and such a privilege."
Mrs Thorne said she had received excellent support from the county council, saying she felt "part of a team".
Information on fostering is available at www.norfolk.gov.uk/children-and-families/adoption-and-fostering/fostering