Kate Forbes MSP has called on Highland Council and independent care providers in the north of Scotland to consider a pooling arrangement with social workers in a bid to improve support for foster carers in rural areas.
Even if the local authority had an influx of applicants for becoming prospective foster carers, a lack of social workers may hamper how successful this recruitment drive could be.
It is thought that sharing social workers could save staff time and travel costs, as well as lead to higher levels of foster carer retention.
Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said: “To support foster carers in rural areas, we need to do things differently.
“There are some brilliant social carers in the Highlands who care for vulnerable children and young people in a vast area. They do a tough job exceedingly well and deserve our full praise.
“However, I think we need to reconsider how Highland Council works with the independent providers to cover every part of the Highlands.
“This model is one idea that could work, whereby social workers cover a much smaller area of the Highlands to support local families irrespective of whether they provide care through Highland Council or independent third party providers.
“It makes sense that, rather than each body struggling to recruit a social worker in every community and expecting social workers to cover vast areas, the different organisations could, contractually, share social workers.
“I think this is worth exploring as it could improve the service, reduce the pressure on social workers and ensure children and foster parents get the support they need.”