The founder of a Christian foster and adoption charity Home for Good has said Christians have risen to the challenge facing the fostering system in the UK.
A new study has revealed the number of children needing foster care has risen by 44 per cent during the coronavirus pandemic, creating a "state of emergency".
The survey by Barnardos found the number of people looking to become foster carers has fallen by almost half over the same period.
Krish Kandiah, founder of Home for Good, told Premier the foster system has been struggling this year.
"[Coronavirus has] put more pressure on a system that was already at capacity. For many years now there's been 8,000 foster families needed so we were up to capacity and the coronavirus has just added extra stress to that," he said.
"We've heard reports of a lot of families under pressure and children not being safe at home so needed to be referred into care.
"That would make sense of the other spike we're seeing in domestic violence, which is normally spouse on spouse abuse. And we've heard that it was a slower referral rate because children were invisible to the system because they weren't going to school. But maybe as more children are returning to school they're being seen and their abuse or neglect is being noticed.
"The other issue is some foster families have been fragile because a lot of foster families are older and therefore more susceptible to the worst effects of Covid."
Kandiah said there has been a glimmer of hope in the very bleak situation as Christians have been stepping up to provide homes for children.
"We've been so impressed by Christians up and down the country that have been stepping forward at Home for Good. In one city alone, Bristol, we had 80 inquiries during lockdown of people that wanted to help. So, the Church is responding and it's been super exciting.
"I really do I think a part of the DNA of the Christian life is to love your neighbour and to show hospitality and compassion.
"We follow a God who is a father to the fatherless, and a protector of widows and orphans. So it shouldn't be unusual that Christians would come forward. In fact, it should be the most natural thing in the world."
A Department for Education spokesman said: "Foster carers make a lifelong difference to the lives of the vulnerable children when they need it most. We encourage more people to come forward, both now and in the future, so there are enough foster carers available at the right time and in the right place to provide safe, loving homes for these children.
"We have published guidance online for anyone interested in becoming a foster parent. During the pandemic we have also made it easier for councils and fostering agencies to identify potential placements, and to assess and approve new foster carers, so that children get the support they deserve without delay."