Policy and campaigns blog - May 2018

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Hello and welcome to the latest update from the policy and campaigns team at The Fostering Network.

Scotland allowances

As part of our Make Foster Care Fair campaign, we have been pushing for a national minimum allowance in Scotland for the best part of a decade! Our director in Scotland, Sara Lurie, is now part of an allowances review group. Presently the review group is considering how best to draw up what might and might not be included in a foster carer's costs in looking after a child, and we are advising on this.

However, we are concerned that, while the review group will be considering fostering, kinship care, and adoption allowances, they will not be looking at continuing care (post 16 or 18) allowances. We know that many fostering services in Scotland reduce allowances to foster carers looking after young adults, and sadly for some foster carers this means they are no longer able to afford to offer a home to a young person as a result.

This goes against the whole ethos of continuing care - whereby a child in foster care turning 16 or 18 should be able to be supported to remain living with their carer into early adulthood. We have therefore written to the chair of the review group to share our concern and hope they will be able to reconsider. Our policy call is for there to be national minimum post-18 allowances set throughout the whole of the UK and this is a perfect opportunity for Scotland to lead the way.

If you are a foster carer in Scotland please take part in this survey and request that continuing care allowances are included in the review.

Stocktake response

Following the publication of the Foster Care in England report (formerly known as the national fostering stocktake), we have prepared a response for the Government. It is fair to say that we were disappointed with the content of Sir Martin Narey and Mark Owers report, especially considering the great deal of time and effort put into the process over 2017 - both by organisations like ourselves and the many foster carers who also got involved.

We felt that the report lacked depth and shied away from tackling the big issues in foster care. For example, it dismissed the idea that all foster carers deserve to be paid, it discounts long term foster care as a viable route to permanence, and based many of its recommendations on little or no evidence. The overall ethos of the report is one of "business as usual", albeit with some tinkering around the edges.

You can read our full response here, and listen to our chief executive, Kevin Williams, discussing the stocktake report on our podcast.

The next stage will be the Government's response, which is due imminently. They will also be responding to the Education Committee's Fostering Inquiry which also took place in 2017. We are looking forward to further engagement with the Department for Education and remain hopeful that we can secure improvements to foster care as a result of this process!

Fostering in France

The Fostering Network is a member of APFEL which is a European network founded in 2011 to bring together all those with an interest in foster care in order to exchange ideas, share good practice and innovate. Through our APFEL contacts we organised a meeting earlier this year where Vicki (Campaigns Manager) and Kate (Policy Manager) met with fostering managers and representatives from across France.

The purpose was to share information on the different models and approaches to fostering in each country with a specific focus on learning more about how France have professionalised their foster care workforce over the last 10 years. We discussed the impact for services, workers and children and young people; we will be circulating a blog in the summer which will give more detail about the meeting.

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions about our policy or campaigns work please email policy@campaigns.net or campaigns@fostering.net.

Kate, Vicki, and Rob