A quarter of foster children in Yorkshire were moved home twice or more last year - some as many as seven times, research by Action for Children has found.
The charity said too many children are being disrupted by repeated moves to new homes, and called for more families to urgently come forward to provide stable homes for some of the most vulnerable children in our communities.
Children and young people who regularly move between foster care homes are more likely to have poor social skills, reduced education outcomes and limited future employment prospects – impacting on their mental health and exacerbating any existing behavioural and emotional issues.
Out of 6,075 children in foster care in Yorkshire and the Humber between April 2014 and March 2015, 1,570 foster children had moved twice or more - 26 per cent. Of these, 26 had moved five times; 23 had moved six times and 22 had moved seven times.
Children’s placements manager at Action for Children Yorkshire, Sue Atkinson-Millmoor, said: “For children in care, moving home is not just about leaving a house. It means leaving a family, friends, school and everything that’s familiar to start all over again.
“We know of children as young as four who have had to move three times in less than a year before finding a stable family home. Sadly we know that it can be necessary to move children from their current foster homes as relationships between a carer and child can break down, especially for children who have faced the most traumatic experiences and find it hard to trust someone new.
“However, too many children in care are still facing instability in their lives. That’s why we urgently need more dedicated foster carers to help children and young people overcome trauma by helping them to love and trust again, feel safe, rebuild their sense of worth and belonging.”
One foster carer from Sheffield who had seen their teenage foster son “thrive” over a two-and-a-half year placement, told The Yorkshire Post: “Every time a foster child moves home they have to learn to trust a whole new set of people. It’s so important for them to have stability, and with a long placement, you can see them grow in confidence.”
In June, the Fostering Network said a further 720 new families were needed to foster children in Yorkshire in 2015.
Labour’s Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton, an advocate of fostering, said it was “vital” to keep disruption to a minimum.
“What makes a stable and balanced adult, is a stable and balanced childhood,” he said. “The reason many of these children are in foster care is out of their control, but being brought into a loving household can make a profound difference.”
A Department for Education spokeswoman said it had put in place “comprehensive and far-reaching” support for foster children.