The Fostering Network welcomes a new deal for fostering
Today sees the publication of the final report of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England. The report calls for £2.6bn to implement a ‘fundamental reset of the system to improve the quality of life for children, their families and those in care.’
The Fostering Network welcomes today’s report as a blueprint for change which could transform children’s social care by shifting the focus from crisis intervention towards early family help and supporting more children to stay with their family or their wider family network. For those children who are unable to live with their family the report’s vision is for a care system with an ‘obsession’ for lifelong relationships and sets out a ‘new deal for foster care’.
For those children and young people who do enter the care system, well-supported and stable foster care can make a huge difference and we welcome the strong endorsement of the foster carer role by the care review throughout the review process and within the report. The report states that ‘Stories shared with the review demonstrate just how life changing fostering can be for children and foster carers themselves’.
The report sets out a ‘new deal’ for foster care, the key recommendations for fostering include:
- New universal care standards to provide quality standards for every child in care;
- Recruiting 9,000 more foster carers over three years to ensure we have enough foster carers in the right place with the right skills to meet the needs of children;
- Providing significantly more support for foster carers, trusting foster carers more and giving carers a direct say in decisions which affect children’s lives;
- Support, as provided by The Fostering Network’s Mockingbird programme, should be available in every local authority and an investment of an additional £82m is needed to provide this support;
- Commissioning, planning and recruitment of foster care to be moved into new Regional Care Cooperatives which will be local authority owned; and
- A new ‘opt-out’ legal right to advocacy for all children in care.
The Fostering Network welcomes the recognition of the issues our members have raised for many years and throughout the review process. We welcome the principles underpinning the review report; however Government will now need to work with all parties to consider the details and what implementation will look like in order to realise the best outcomes for children.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said:
‘Today’s report recognises that foster care makes a transformational difference to the lives of children and young people. Recruitment of more foster carers is vital and I am delighted that the care review has recognised this. I welcome the call for legislative change to introduce mechanisms for more effective recruitment and more intelligent commissioning to make sure each child has a home that meets their needs and supports them to thrive in their community.
‘However, we must learn the lessons from the past and make sure that any new regional structures enhance and improve local planning, commissioning and recruitment. Local recruitment is key to foster care – making sure that the skills and experience of foster carers in a local area match the needs of children coming into care, so that children can stay within their local communities.
‘The retention of foster carers is equally as important as recruitment and evidence from our State of the Nation survey shows this. Foster carers come into fostering because they want to provide the best possible care for children, but sometimes the system puts barriers in the way, which make that more difficult than it should be. I’m pleased that the care review recognises the success of our Mockingbird programme in removing these barriers.
‘The Independent Review has concluded; now it is over to the Government to respond. I urge Ministers to accept the recommendations of the care review; to announce the necessary investment and to work in partnership with care experienced people, foster carers, fostering services and other key experts to work out how best to implement them.’
Notes to editors:
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About The Fostering Network
The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading fostering charity, bringing together everyone who is involved in the lives of children who are fostered to make foster care the very best it can be. With 59,000 foster carers and 450 fostering service members, we represent nearly 77 per cent of foster carers in the UK and connect everyone involved in fostering.
Find The Fostering Network’s responses to the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England here
State of the Nation’s Foster Care 2021
Every three years The Fostering Network conducts the State of the Nation’s Foster Care survey to produce a reliable insight into fostering in the UK; to identify areas of good practice and understand where improvements are needed. The latest survey, which took place in the summer of 2021, covered key practice and workforce issues such as placement stability, training and support for carers, and status and authority of the workforce. In total, 3,352 foster carers and 99 fostering services took the survey, maintaining it as the largest and most comprehensive survey of fostering in the UK.
Read the full report here
Mockingbird Family Model
Mockingbird, a global award winning and pioneering programme led by The Fostering Network in the UK, delivers sustainable foster care. It is an evidence-based model structured around the support and relationships an extended family provides. The model nurtures the relationships between children, young people and foster families supporting them to build a resilient and caring community. Evidence shows that Mockingbird improves the wellbeing of children and young people and increases rates of foster carer recruitment and retention.
Read more about Mockingbird here
Read the evaluation here
Foster Care FortnightTM and recruitment targets
Foster Care Fortnight is The Fostering Network's annual campaign to raise the profile of fostering and show how foster care transforms lives. Each year, The Fostering Network highlights the number of new foster families needed across the UK in order to ensure every child who can’t live with their own family gets the care they need. In 2022, we calculate that we need 8,100 more foster families across England.