Fostering the future
We welcome the report published last week by the Social Market Foundation on the future of fostering in England calling for a commitment from Government to raise the standards of care we expect and to improve outcomes for children with care experience.
As recently stated in the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care’s Case for Change, the fostering sector is the bedrock of the children’s social care system. It caters to the needs of nearly three-quarters of children in care looked after away from home, and we know that more needs to be done to ensure foster carers are valued, supported and properly remunerated to ensure capacity in the sector to meet the needs of children.
We absolutely agree, and have been saying for some time, that the foster carer population must meet the needs of the children entering the care system. Fostering services work all year round to find and recruit the foster carers they need locally to look after these children, yet certain groups of children (often teenagers and sibling groups) remain hard to place and can end up a long way from family, school, and friends, being split up from brothers and sisters, or being placed with a foster carer who does not have the ideal skills and experience to meet their specific needs.
Each local authority must conduct an annual needs analysis of their local looked after children population to determine types of care placements required including long-term fostering and post-18 care. This analysis must drive all commissioning and recruitment of foster carers and form the basis of every local authority sufficiency statement to offer a diverse and full range of foster placements to meet children’s needs and stop general recruitment.
As stated in the report, local authorities should be given more support to fulfil their duties recognising that many are under extreme pressure due to repeated budget cuts in recent years and increasing demands on children’s social care services. Investment to improve children’s social care practice through, for example, innovative models and whole family support need to be addressed.
The Fostering Network looks forward to working closely with key stakeholders such as the Social Market Foundation and the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care to try and tackle these issues and make foster care the best it can be.
Read the full report here.