BRIDGWATER residents are being urged to consider a career in fostering in order to support the growing number of young people across the county.

The call comes from Five Rivers Child Care as stark reports continue to highlight the ongoing foster carer shortfalls and rising numbers of children entering the care system, with a current shortage of 540 foster carers across the South West of England.

In Somerset there is a particular need for foster carers to look after teenage children from 13 up.

Five Rivers is looking to recruit a variety of fostering roles across Bridgwater, including the following positions:

Long-term foster carers – Carers who can provide comfort and stability to children and young adults who are unable to live with their families. Depending on individual circumstances, children and young adults can remain with long-term carers until they turn 18.

Short-term foster carers - This can apply to an overnight stay or a period of a few months and is used when young people or adults require time away from their birth families or existing care support.

Emergency foster carers – Emergency foster carers help bridge the gap between foster placements or reunification with friends, family or returning home. This type of care is predominantly for young people with complex needs in particular, therefore potential carers need to either have suitable transferable skills or previous experience caring, whether it’s through historical fostering experience or any profession that involves direct work with children.

Sibling group foster carers – Five Rivers aims to keep all sibling groups together where possible, and it’s currently looking for more foster carers who have the space, time and resources available to be able to look after sibling groups.

Adrian Chappell, Five Rivers fostering manager for Somerset, said: “We already work with some fantastic foster carers in Bridgwater and hope that we discover even more local people that will make great carers.

“One issue that may be deterring potential carers from exploring fostering are the outdated misconceptions still associated with the profession.

"An overwhelming number of people still think that it’s only a viable option for those that are older, already parents or homeowners. But that’s simply not the case. People from all walks of life can foster, so same-sex couples, single carers, people that rent property and those as young as 21 can foster as long as they have a suitable spare room per child and the necessary personal attributes.

“We are really keen to hear from people who are nurturing, compassionate and enjoy caring and supporting others and welcome the opportunity to talk to anyone who has questions about fostering and what the different roles entail.”

A career in foster care offers many benefits including competitive rates of pay and flexible working.

For more information about fostering contact Five Rivers on 0345 266 0272, email or visit