Welcome to the first campaigns blog of 2016. 2015 was a busy year for us, which started with the publication of our State of the Nation’s Foster Care report. Four main themes stood out, and we used these to form the basis of our manifesto for foster care.
In the run up to the election we took this manifesto to all the main parties standing for the UK parliament, and we were delighted when two parties (The Liberal Democrats and the Green Party) decided to adopt policies we had recommended: as far as we know the first time that any party manifesto has ever mentioned foster care!
The momentous success of our Don’t Move Me campaign in 2013 has led to changes in the law in England, Wales, and Scotland that enables young people to remain living with their foster carers beyond their 18th birthdays. These have now all come into force. In England the new measure is called Staying Put, and we are keeping a close eye on its implementation. It is heartening to note that many more young people are now living with former foster carers on their 19th birthday than were before the new legislation came into force. We also included Staying Put allowances in our annual survey of foster care allowances. We believe that all Staying Put arrangements must command at least the same allowance as those for foster care pre-18 and will continue to campaign until this is the case.
So what does 2016 hold for the team?
We are looking forward to launching a new campaign focused on contact with former fostered children. Our “Keep Connected: Maintaining Relationships When Moving On” campaign will recognise the importance of continuing the relationship between fostered children and their former foster carers, and enable those relationships to be maintained when it is deemed to be beneficial to the child.
We will also be refreshing and relaunching our foster carer charter, and encouraging more fostering services to adopt charters setting out the roles and responsibilities of fostering services and foster carers. In this way charters can enable everybody in the team around the child to work together collaboratively and professionally to provide the best outcomes for fostered children. Watch this space!
And, of course, there are elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland during which we will be seeking to keep foster care on the agenda.
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