Too little progress has been made over the last two years tackling some of the most significant issues impacting on Scotland’s foster families and the children they care for, and the Scottish Government should take immediate action to remedy this, The Fostering Network is warning today with the publication of its State of Scotland’s Foster Care report.
Findings from the report, based on the charity’s survey of 500 foster carers from across Scotland, show virtually no improvement since the last survey two years ago in a range of key areas, including:
- Six in 10 foster carers (no change since 2016) say that the allowance – the money they are given to spend on a child they are fostering – does not meet the full costs, with many reporting that they are having to dip into their own pockets. National minimum allowances are established in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Despite years of campaigning and a promise from the Scottish Government that is now over 10 years old, there is still no recommended minimum allowance for children in foster care in Scotland.
- Just over a quarter of foster carers (27 per cent compared with 26 per cent in 2016) say they do not feel able to make day-to-day decisions about the children in their care, meaning that children living in foster care may miss out on normal family, social and school activities.
- Too many foster carers do not feel that they are treated as an equal and valued member of the team by their fostered child’s social workers, with only 63 per cent (down from 74 per cent in 2016) saying that they do.
When being asked to look after a child outside of the age range they have been assessed and approved to foster, nearly three-quarters of foster carers (73 per cent compared to 70 per cent in 2016) are not given the additional support or training which would help them to best meet the child’s particular needs.
The Fostering Network says that the Scottish Government’s introduction of the independent Care Review, two years ago, was welcome, but that it has inadvertently stalled progress in these and other areas where the need for change had already been clearly identified and did not require further review.
As a result, the charity is calling for immediate action, outside of the Care Review, by the Scottish Government in the following areas:
- The Scottish Government should introduce and fund a minimum recommended fostering allowance, bringing it into line with the other countries of the UK.
- The Scottish Government’s draft guidance on decision making for foster carers needs to be finalised, published, promoted and implemented.
The Scottish Government should review the learning and development standard for foster care to ensure it fully covers accredited and standardised pre-and post-approval training and then it should be implemented.
The charity also welcomed the Scottish Government’s recent announcement that they would like to conduct a review to introduce a central register for foster carers, but again called for this to be progressed promptly and not to wait until the Care review reports some time next year.
Director of The Fostering Network in Scotland, Sara Lurie, said: ‘Our State of Scotland’s Foster Care report shows that urgent change is required in many aspects of the fostering system, but that progress has either been non-existent or painfully slow over the past two years. Unfortunately, it appears that the Care Review, while undertaking a very important task, has had the unintended consequence of preventing change in key areas regarding fostering that either did not need to be wrapped up in the review or, indeed, are perhaps not even being considered by the review.
‘The ongoing delay of, for example, the introduction of a minimum fostering allowance for Scotland, is having a direct impact on foster families and the children in their care. We must not allow waiting for the end of the Care Review to result in further procrastination and would urge the Scottish Government to look at the recommendations from our State of Scotland’s Foster Care report and begin their implementation without delay.’
Notes to editors
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- The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading fostering charity. We are the essential network for fostering, bringing together everyone who is involved in the lives of fostered children.
- The State of the Scotland's Foster Care report 2019 is based on the 500 responses from Scotland to our State of the Nation’s Foster Care survey in 2018. For more comprehensive information please visit www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/sotn
- Over 5,000 children (three-quarters of children in care who are looked after away from home or family) are being cared for by almost 4,400 foster families each day in Scotland. The Fostering Network estimates that 580 new foster families are needed across Scotland during 2018-19 to provide stable, secure and loving homes for fostered children.