By Sue Ormesher

AN appeal for a new compassionate army of foster carers to help young people in the city who are in desperate need of a loving, stable home has been renewed by Liverpool City Council.

A lack of foster carers and increased demand means that more children are having to live in residential homes or are being placed with carers outside Liverpool, while some sibling groups are being split up.

The appeal to provide a better start and a stable, happy home for children in need is part of a major new campaign by the city council, backed by the ECHO.

It also enjoys the support of several high-profile ambassadors including f Liverpool football legend and Sky TV pundit Jamie Carragher and renowned actress Miriam Margolyes, whose mum was from Liverpool.

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher is a key backer of city's campaign to find a new army of foster carers on Merseyside

鈥淪ecuring a stable home environment for foster children is vital if they are to have the best chances in life and realise their ambitions,?said Councillor Barry Kushner, Liverpool City Council鈥檚 cabinet member for children鈥檚 services.

鈥淲hether you are older, single or never had children, you can foster. Foster carers just need to be able to provide a solid and reliable foundation for children and young people to find theirs.

鈥淚t is so vitally important for children and young people to live in a loving, stable environment, particularly after experiencing the upheaval and, sometimes, trauma of being placed in care.?/p>

In an effort to provide more information to potential carers, Liverpool City Council provides answers to the following frequently asked questions:

How many children does Liverpool City Council care for?

Liverpool City Council currently has around 1,100 looked after children and young people, with half of them being fostered and the others living in residential home settings.

What are the ages of children needing a foster home?

They range from babies up to 18 years old and foster carers are required to look after a child for anything from a few weeks to providing a loving home for many years. Foster parents are particularly needed for older children and sibling groups.

Will I receive support and training?

In Liverpool, we are fortunate to be able to offer lots of help and support to our foster carers including a 12-month rolling training programme and every foster carer has a dedicated social worker.

Foster carers also receive lots of peer support from other carers and we hold events specifically to celebrate our foster carers and the children they care for and to bring them together, including family fun days and foster care awards.

Can I choose which child I look after?

Whilst there is a need for foster carers who can provide loving homes for sibling groups and children with more complex needs, there鈥檚 every opportunity during the assessment process to talk with our team about what sort of child you鈥檒l be best placed to foster. You may feel more confident fostering children of a certain age or gender and your preferences will be considered throughout the whole process.

How long does the process take?

The assessment process usually takes around six months. It begins with a social worker meeting with you and asking some questions to find out more about you. The process is very open and we鈥檒l share all the details with you at every stage, so you know what happens next.

You can also take a break after stage one if you want to.

Matching you with a child may take longer, but it really depends which children you would consider making part of your family.

What type of person can foster?

Foster carers need to be over 21 and mature enough to meet the demands of parenthood. You should be in reasonably good health, with a spare room for one or more children and you do not need to own your own home.

Potential foster carers should have the time and ability to foster. You do not need to give up work to foster, as long as your work is flexible enough to cope with the demands and you have a support network in place.

Liverpool City Council doesn鈥檛 discriminate on the grounds of class, race, culture, sexual orientation of disability. Applications from single people are particularly welcome.

Do foster carers receive a wage?

Carers can receive around £22,000 per year, with other allowances included including a Council Tax rebate, free family fun days and a free pass to Lifestyles gyms.

What type of things will you ask me or look into?

To make sure that all fostered children in Liverpool are in the safest of hands, various checks are carried out to make sure that carers, their homes and health are all up to the job.

These may include:

- A health and safety inspection of your home

- A health check with a GP or family doctor

- Personal and employer references

- Checks with the NSPCC and your local council

- Interviews with any adult children you have who live away from your home

- An enclosed Criminal Records Bureau or Disclosure or Barring Service check for anyone aged over 16 living in the household.

Where do I get more information?

Anyone interested in finding out more can call 0151 515 0000 or check out www.fostering.liverpool.gov.uk

Actress Miriam Margolyes November: "My Scouse mum told me how much Liverpool people care about their own...."