In response to the Government in Westminster’s announcement on 13 January regarding adoption, and in particular education secretary Nicky Morgan’s assertion that ‘Every single day a child spends waiting in care is a further delay to a life full of love and stability – and this simply isn’t good enough. We have a responsibility to transform the lives of our most vulnerable children, making sure they get the opportunities they deserve’, Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network said:
“Yet again, the rhetoric emerging from Government is that of a hierarchy of care. And yet again, to use Morgan’s own words, this simply isn’t good enough.
“The Government is consistently promoting the message that adoption is the gold standard of permanence despite the lack of research into adoption outcomes, and that all other permanency options are second best and inadequate. While adoption can be the best option for some children, for the vast majority of children in care other permanency options will better meet their needs.
“We are tired of listening to those options being denigrated by politicians who, because they have the platform to speak and work as the ultimate corporate parent for all children in care, ought to know better.
“Good foster care transforms lives and enables young people flourish. The vast majority of young people in care are living with foster families who love them, and provide the stability and support that will see them grow into confident adults. Too often politicians use the robust analysis of the outcomes of young people in foster care as a rod to hit future young people in care with.
“We believe that for most children in care, foster care is not only ‘good enough’, it’s the best possible option for them.
“As well as providing a loving family environment, foster carers are also the primary advocates and first educators for the children they are caring for. Foster care is much, much more than simply providing a roof over a young person’s head. Foster carers make a difference which is recognised by schools, by local government, by Ofsted, and by many others in wider society, but is not properly recognised by this Government. In December 2015 University of Oxford research has shown that educational outcomes improve for fostered children compared to those living on the edge of care. Various research by Sinclair, Schofield and others shows the positive impact of the care system on many vulnerable young people.
“The Government has said it will change legislation to ensure that placements are made on the basis of whether they will provide care up to the child’s 18th birthday, and to make sure decisions rightly prioritise children’s long-term stability. While we agree that stability must be a priority for decision making we would remind the secretary of state for education, who under her remit as a member of the cabinet has responsibility for children in care, of the legislation that was passed last April strengthening long-term fostering as a permanence option.
“The Government will spend £200m over this parliament to support adoption, and we would like to see them make a similar commitment to fostering, given that nearly 80 per cent of children in care are living with foster families. And the majority of those 80 per cent will not only stay living with them, but thrive and become adult members of our society under their care.
“The secretary of state said that “We have a responsibility to transform the lives of our most vulnerable children, making sure they get the opportunities they deserve”. We, and the thousands of foster carers across the country, couldn’t agree more. Foster carers are committed to helping the children they care for to aim high and fulfil their potential; now we, they, and the young people they’re caring for need to know that the Government respects, values and supports what they do.”