TEACHERS and health visitors have been issued with an urgent plea to become temporary foster carers, following a spike in domestic abuse cases during lockdown.

East Renfrewshire Council said it had been given special dispensation by the Care Inspectorate to fast-track the registration process from six months to between one and two weeks.

The local authority said the pandemic had placed additional pressure on vulnerable families and the number of children requiring to be removed from their homes due to violence or mental health issues had increased and was expected to continue to rise.

A letter seen by The Herald states that staff already have the relevant disclosure safety checks and “a unique understanding of child development and attachment.”

It adds that foster carers will be given support for the temporary placements and financial assistance as well as a period of special leave.

However, employees are told to check with line managers to ensure “any temporary reduction or suspension of your duties won’t impact your existing team.”

East Renfrewshire Council said it had been “overwhelmed” by the response so far from staff and is currently assessing applicants.

The First Minister said yesterday that children’s hearings, which make decisions on the care of vulnerable children, are to resume in public as part of an easing of lockdown restrictions.

At least 15 million more cases of domestic violence are predicted around the world this year as a result of pandemic restrictions, according to new data by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

Domestic abuse charities and experts say lockdown is likely to cause additional anxiety and isolation for women who experience violence at home, while the usual routes to finding help are reduced during the crisis.

Organisations like Glasgow Women’s Aid and ASSIST, the specialist domestic abuse advocacy and support service, have worked quickly to move services online and by telephone.

A spokesman for East Renfrewshire Council said: “As part of our coronavirus recovery plans, we have written to professionally registered colleagues within the council to ask for their help in becoming temporary foster carers.

“We have seen an increase in the number of children who need this support as a result of the impact coronavirus is having on the adults within their families in terms of mental health and domestic abuse.

“The colleagues we have asked for help are all qualified and experienced in looking after children every day, they have been vetted to the highest child protection standards and will also be given all relevant support should they take up a temporary fostering role.

“We put relationships at the heart of all we do and want to keep our children within the local area and, where possible, to have them cared for by professionals who know them and care for them.

“We have been overwhelmed by the extremely positive response we have had from staff to this request and are currently assessing those who have registered an interest.”

“We take our child protection responsibilities extremely seriously and this creative solution has the full support of the Care Inspectorate.”

The council said it is also looking for temporary respite carers for children and teenagers who require some “breathing space” away from the family home.