Facebook plea for foster carers
Facebook plea for foster carers

A foster care agency says the shortage of WA carers is so critical it has resorted to advertising children needing homes on its Facebook page.

Wanslea Family Services out of home care manager Stephan Lund said the agency had been forced to turn down 185 referrals in the past six months - about 95 per cent of them from the Department for Child Protection - because of a lack of foster carers.

Mr Lund said the agency was turning down referrals daily and one day last year had turned down referrals for about 20 children.

The agency found foster care for 358 children during the same six-month period.

Department figures show 4080 children were in care in November, a 300 increase in 17 months.

Mr Lund said the agency was now advertising on Facebook on behalf of children desperately needing homes to draw attention to the shortage. "The thing that we're trying to do is highlight the need out there and the shortage of foster carers," he said.

The latest post on Friday shows a mock plea from two sisters aged five and seven looking for a home.

Though the photos and names in the post are false, Mr Lund said the plea reflected a true case of two children whose previous foster care had fallen through.

"Sometimes we fight because we don't like sharing attention. Sometimes we get cross at each other and cry," the post reads.

"All we want is a forever home."

Some social media users criticised the post as inappropriate and claimed they could attract the interest of paedophiles.

"Who in hell advertises children on Facebook are you people for real . . . This is not how you treat kids!(sic)," one Facebook user wrote.

Department for Child Protection director-general Terry Murphy said the department also used Facebook to recruit foster carers and it had proved an effective method.

But he said the use of generic images could be misleading and the department would try to "rectify any misunderstanding" with Wanslea Family Services.

Mr Lund defended the tactic and said the agency had posted similar pleas on Facebook before with a good success rate.

Several people had shown interest in fostering the children and he expected the post would probably lead to the girls finding a home.

The department said a campaign in 2012 to increase the pool of foster carers had resulted in 110 carers being approved in nine months.

The West Australian

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