YORK'S outgoing Lord Mayor has made a special plea to find foster homes for teenagers in the city.

Coun David Horton, who recently hosted a reception to highlight the work already done by York's existing foster carers, said: "I recognise that foster carers prepared to look after teenage children are hard to come by. Nevertheless, there are adults in the community who are prepared to give both commitment and valuable experience in order to help these youngsters get a positive foothold in life. Any such volunteers will gain the admiration of us all."

Children and young people aged between 11 and 16 are a particularly hard group to find foster places for. City of York Council revealed last week that 16 young people from York were being looked after outside the city.

A new council campaign aims to find those young people homes with carers living within York.

It aims to build on the success of previous recruitment drives, but is accompanied by a specific scheme to meet the needs of young people aged 11 to 18 with particular difficulties.

Foster carers for teenagers will be paid £500 per week to look after teenagers or severely disabled young people, in recognition of the extra support teenagers need. In addition, they will benefit from specialist support and training.

The council's fostering team hopes people with experience of working in schools, youth services, hospitals and social services will consider fostering, but says virtually anyone can become a carer provided they offer plenty of time and a supportive and consistent home for a young person until he or she is able to return home or become independent.

Prospective foster carers will benefit from a preparation training course to advise them about the rewards and challenges of looking after a young person.

The youngsters needing homes include ones with problems a parent can no longer cope with, some who are struggling at school, and a few who have received help from the Youth Offending Team.

For more information phone the Family Placement Team on 01904 555333 or 613161.

Coun Horton will perform his final duty as Lord Mayor tonight, when he welcomes civic dignitaries from York's twin cities of Dijon (France) and Munster (Germany) to a dinner at the Mansion House.

Updated: 08:46 Tuesday, May 20, 2003