More foster carers are being urged to come forward as it is revealed that almost 500 Cornish children are currently in care.

Cornwall Council hopes to recruit an extra 40 foster families by the end of the year, who can offer a loving and safe place to live in.

With a diverse range of young people in care, it means that foster carers need to come from a variety of backgrounds and have different life experiences.

The children range in age from newborn to teenagers, and some are sibling groups but like all children, they need to be part of a family where they are nurtured and feel safe.

Nicky, who is already one of Cornwall Councils foster carers, said: “The best thing about being a foster carer is seeing children who have had a difficult start in life begin to flourish and having the opportunity to open a new world of possibilities for them to help build a picture of themselves as resilient and effective individuals.

“But you have to be realistic as well; foster caring is ‘extreme’ parenting. Children in care have all suffered separation and loss and our most important job is to help them feel safe and secure.

“Traditional parenting methods of rewards and sanctions very often don’t work and they require empathetic parenting to help them succeed.”

Fostering is a way of providing a safe and secure home for children who cannot live with their own parents. Often, this is on a temporary basis while the parents get help to sort out problems.

Cornwall Council has foster carers who have been looking after children for over 20 years. Some have had many children who have returned home or moved on to adoption or special guardianship.

Others have provided safe and loving care for the whole of the child’s childhood – and some have continued beyond 18 years.

With Fostering Fortnight just over one month away, information events are being planned across Cornwall for anyone interested in having an informal chat.

Nicky added: “Make sure that the time is right for you personally and that you have the time, energy and commitment to give to the role. Given time, warmth and support, these children and young people can really develop and reach their potential as individuals.”

The shortage of foster carers in Cornwall is not unique, with The Fostering Network estimating that fostering services across the UK need to recruit a further 6,800 foster families in the next 12 months.

Cornwall councillor Sally Hawken, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “There are many reasons why a young person may come into care, but we need to be prepared to support these often vulnerable young people when they need us most.

"Foster carers come from a variety of different backgrounds and you don’t need any particular skills or experiences, but you do need to have a passion for helping young people."

Foster carers receive training and support to help them develop the skills to meet the needs of children in their care.

Currently, the council is particularly looking for people who can care for older children as well as siblings together.