The Fostering Network welcomes the Welsh Government’s decision to create a national register of foster carers
The UK’s leading fostering charity, The Fostering Network, has welcomed the Welsh Government’s commitment to create a national register of foster carers, having campaigned for this for many years.
Yesterday the Government published its response to the Children, Young People and Education Committee’s report: ‘If not now, when? Radical reform for care-experienced children and young people’. It agreed to work with Social Care Wales to scope and fund the delivery of a national register for foster carers.
A consultation will take place to decide what the register will look like, but it is likely to be a centrally held list of all approved foster carers in Wales, as well as those who have been deemed unsuitable to foster.
Being registered alongside other social care professionals such as social workers and childminders will provide foster carers with the much-needed recognition and status they deserve. It will help them be recognised as an important part of the social care team supporting children and young people.
It will also address the difficulty foster carers experience when moving from one service to another which requires foster carers to re-do their fostering assessment, resulting in duplication and delays. Creating a national register will provide a less bureaucratic method of transfer, based on a foster carer's registration history and contribute to improving foster carer retention, a crucial issue that needs solving.
Most importantly, a register will offer a robust safeguarding mechanism which will outline a foster carer’s continued suitability to foster.
In addition, the committee recommends that the ‘When I am Ready’ scheme – which allows young people to remain living with a foster family beyond 18 – be extended to 25 and that barriers to the scheme, including the potential for foster carers’ approval to be taken away and the reduction in payments to fosters carers, are removed.
The need to eliminate barriers to the scheme are well-evidenced through The Fostering Network’s ‘State of the Nation’ surveys and are crucial to ensuring more young people are supported to leave care only when they are ready.
Whilst The Fostering Network welcomes the Government’s response to review ‘When I am Ready’, something it has long been calling for, the charity is disappointed that immediate steps to improve the scheme have not been taken.
Sarah Thomas, chief executive, The Fostering Network said:
‘We are very pleased the Welsh Government have accepted our recommendation for a national register for foster carers. We understand this is a complex task which will require more thought and time and crucially, needs to be resourced appropriately. We look forward to working with them and Social Care Wales to take it forward.
‘The commitment from Government was to undertake a ‘radical reform’ and to ‘transform services’, with this in mind it is disappointing to see the number of recommendations that have been rejected. We believe that some of these recommendations, based on extensive evidence from the sector, are key to creating long-term, sustainable changes for children and families. We will continue to advocate for these changes to ensure timely, positive reforms are made for our children.’