A leading foster care company has warned a crisis has been caused by the Covid pandemic sparking a huge need for more carers.

Affinity Fostering has seen the number of fostering referrals rise by up to 50 per cent since the initial Covid outbreak, but that has coincided with the number of people looking to become foster carers plummeting.

In the midst of Foster Care Fortnight, a national awareness campaign run by the Fostering Network until May 23, Affinity Fostering has pleaded for more south Essex adults to come forward and change a child’s life in these uncertain times.

Andy Robins, director of Affinity Fostering, said: “The whole country has been focused on Covid over the last year or so but this crisis revolving around foster care has gone largely unnoticed.

“According to the children’s charity Barnardo’s, the number of children needing a foster care home rose by 44 per cent during the coronavirus epidemic, leading the charity to announce a state of emergency.

“We, at Affinity Fostering, have seen an increase in referrals from public authorities by at least 50 per cent and this has all come as the number of people looking to become foster carers has decreased, exacerbating the crisis.

“We deal with more than 30 local authorities all over England and it’s sad when we’re unable to help a young person because we haven’t got capacity.

“There is a desperate need for more foster carers in Essex to provide homes for children.”

Affinity Fostering, whose Essex base is in Ingatestone, was established by Andy’s mother, Denise, and a business partner in 2013.

The move came after Denise became a foster parent when Andy was still a child, resulting in it becoming a passionate issue at home.

Andy, now 40, runs the business alongside his mother and hopes the foster care crisis will be overcome over the course of the coming months thanks to the south Essex community.

He said: “Foster care is an issue close to my heart because my mum fostered a young girl when I was still little.

“Becoming a foster parent is a huge decision and it’s important that it’s not something dives into without thinking it through properly.

“However, I know lots of foster carers who find it very rewarding after getting involved and it’s a chance to make a big difference to someone’s life.”

For more information on becoming a foster carer, visit affinityfostering.com.