The south-west is in "desperate" need of more local foster carers as agencies attempt to keep vulnerable children in the region.
Brophy Family and Youth Services engagement team coordinator Kylie Gaston said there was a critical shortage of carers in the south-west and across the state, with some vulnerable children having to temporarily reside in hotel rooms.
"The demand for homes for babies through to teens is as high as it's ever been," she said.
The number of children needing out-of-home-care state-wide each year could fill Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena.
MacKillop Family Services state foster care recruitment manager Tania Ferris said MacKillop desperately wanted to keep a group of young people, all aged between eight and 14, in the Warrnambool area where they had developed strong connections.
She said the agency worked hard to keep young people in foster care in their own community, rather than relocate them away from everything and everyone familiar to them.
"They need to stay with their teachers at school, with their club footy and netball coaches and team-mates, and with their friends," she said.
"Stability is so important for young people, particularly for those who have experienced significant upheaval and change in their short lives."
MacKillop is holding online information sessions on August 17 and 18 with existing foster carers opening up about what is involved.
"We know there are people in our own community who have in the past thought about maybe becoming a foster carer," Ms Ferris said.
"Maybe this is their time to get in touch with us".
The agency wants south-west people to know that there is no prototype of foster carer.
"One of our biggest challenges is that people think you must be superhuman to be a foster carer," Ms Ferris said.
"Although we think they are the most amazing people in the world, unfailingly they tell us that they are just ordinary people who want to help vulnerable kids, and they have put their hand up to help when they saw a need."
Ms Ferris said there were all types of foster carers.
"You can be single or have a partner, have children of your own or not, you can own or rent your home, work, stay at home, study or be retired," she said.
"Our carers go through training and are supported all the way by our wonderful case management team."
Ms Gaston said Brophy was trying as hard as possible to get local carers.
"We need to ensure kids are able to be placed locally to stay connected to their school, sporting clubs and other hobbies, but sadly that is proving to be difficult," she said.
"We want people to know that it doesn't necessarily have to be full time. Carers can do weekends or a month here and there, and that really helps us help the long term carers."
To find more about foster care visit mackillop.org.au/get-involved or call 1300 791 677.
Brophy Family and Youth Services can be contacted at 5561 8888.
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