Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, says in response to the release of today’s Ofsted figures on children in foster care: “The Fostering Network believes that with a rising number of children coming into foster care, and a reduction in the number of fostering households, the Government in Westminster cannot continue to promote its hierarchy of care which has seen major investment in adoption while fostering has received little.
“Foster carers need to be recognised for the difference that they make. This difference is recognised in schools, in local government, by Ofsted, and by many others in wider society – but it appears that there is only token recognition of this by the government as adoption continues to be the focus despite it only being the most suitable outcome for a relatively small minority of children who enter the care system. The Government recently invested £4.5 million in setting up regional adoption agencies during 2015/16, while in 2013 fostering received £750,000 over two years to recruit foster carers.
“This huge disparity, while a rising number of children are entering the care system, cannot continue if we’re to create a fair and just society where every fostered child and young person has the opportunity to flourish that The Fostering Network believes that they deserve.
“We welcome the fact that more young people are continuing to live with their foster carers under Staying Put arrangements, and we want to see this number increase and for young people to remain longer with no detriment to the support and allowances foster carers receive. Investment in young people at 18 is an investment that will pay off in abundance as those 18-year-olds move forward into independent adulthood.
“Foster carers are at the forefront of the fight to raise the outcomes of fostered children as well as protecting them from child sexual exploitation; and, as such, they need ongoing improved support and development so that they can continue to perform this vital protective role. We need to understand further what ‘missing’ really means, and its link to child sexual exploitation, and we will continue to work with Government and our partners and members to best evolve our practice on this issue.
“We sincerely hope that these figures are a wakeup call for Government so that we can all work with the ultimate corporate parent to ensure that every one receives the childhood that they deserve.”
You can download the full set of data on the Government website.