Almost 600 new foster families are needed in Scotland to meet demand over the next year, according to new figures.

Leading charity The Fostering Network say that based on annual recruitment targets and the number of carers who stop fostering each year, a total of 580 foster places need to be created throughout the rest of 2019.

Scots are now being urged to consider fostering a child as the charity marks the start of its annual Foster Care Fortnight campaign.

Without extra families being found, some children will find themselves living a long way from their family, school and friends, being split up from siblings, or being placed with a foster carer who might not have the relevant skills and experience to meet their specific needs.

Sara Lurie, director of The Fostering Network in Scotland, said: “For some children, no matter how much their mum or dad loves them, they are not able to look after them. That’s where foster carers can step in.

“It might be for a just few days, months, or years and can change a child’s future.

“Foster carers open their hearts and their homes to children. On any given day in Scotland there are more than 5,000 children living with foster families, making memories, being loved and flourishing.

“Along with fostering services across Scotland, we are calling on people who think they have the right qualities, skills and experience to change a child’s future to come forward to foster.”

This year’s recruitment campaign is focusing on the theme of #changeafuture, which highlights the positive impact foster care can have on children’s futures.

The campaign is supported by presenter and DJ Pandora Christie, who was brought up by foster carers.

Ms Christie said: “It’s really key to have a secure family unit around you that loves you and helps you navigate and understand yourself and the world around you.

“That is why foster carers are so important to children who, like me, haven’t had the best start in life. Fostering changed my life and by becoming a foster carer you could change a future.”

Children’s Minister Maree Todd added: “Foster carers open up their homes to some of our most vulnerable children and young people. It is an unbelievable 24/7 commitment that transforms lives and changes futures, and is one that I find truly humbling.

“As we celebrate this year’s Foster Care Fortnight, I know that ongoing challenges remain, not least in finding new foster families.

“It is thanks to the hard work and passion of people across the sector, including that of the Fostering Network, that it is possible for children to find a loving home.”