Council could seek adoptive parents in US
Children in need of a home could be sent to America in an attempt to cut a £7.5 million bill for rising numbers of children in care.
Searching for adoptive parents across the Atlantic is one suggestion by a North Somerset Council budget working party set up to look at ways of cutting its £27.2 million annual spend on children's and young peoples' services.
The number of children in care in the district has risen by 74 per cent over the last five years to 274.
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Of these, 195 live with one of the council's 90 foster families, at a cost of between £190 to £300 a week, depending on the child's age and needs.
But new foster carers are proving hard to find, despite regular recruitment drives. As well as the idea of recruiting adopters from abroad, the working party also suggested bringing unemployed people on board as foster carers.
Other suggestions to reduce the department's spending include reducing the number of children's centres, especially in the more affluent areas of the district, and looking to reduce the costs of transport from home to school.
The working party also suggested the authority looks at ways of reducing the cost of providing respite care for disabled children.
Council executive member for children and young people's services, Jeremy Blatchford, said: "The council has to make unprecedented savings.
"Recruiting adoptive parents from abroad is a suggestion that has been put forward and something we could explore if necessary.
"Widening the search area for adoptive parents would give us more options and could reduce the council's foster care costs.
"Changes in legislation means it will be far easier to search for adoptive parents across the UK and possibly abroad.
"We currently have a high number of children in care.
"Our focus is to work on preventing the problems which lead to children and families requiring very expensive support, including children being taken into care.
"This is morally the right thing to do."
"We are talking with a number of partner organisations to try and build networks for families so they can help themselves.
"And where professional help is needed we are also working to get it to the family a lot faster."
Bristol City Council has more than 700 children in care, and places around 40 children a year with adoptive parents, but is continually trying to find new adoptive families as the number of children in care increases.
It currently spends in excess of £16 million a year on placements, including £5.8 million on foster carers it recruits itself.
The city council and neighbouring South Gloucestershire said they currently had no plans to recruit adoptive parents from abroad.