New research to ease foster carer retention and recruitment crisis underway


The UK’s leading fostering charity, The Fostering Network, have announced plans to carry out vital research into the retention and recruitment of foster carers in England to achieve a diverse and stable foster care workforce.  

The research, supported by the KPMG Foundation and conducted by the Centre for Evidence and Implementation is currently underway.  

This cannot come at a more important time, as the Government prioritises foster care recruitment following the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England. This is as the sector continues to face one of its biggest crises – ensuring there is a range of skilled and knowledgeable foster carers for the children who need them most.  

Statistics published by Ofsted have emphasised the need to better understand issues associated with the retention and recruitment of foster carers. 

Their figures reveal that between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022: 

  • more mainstream fostering households (i.e., not family and friends foster carers) stopped fostering than were approved leading to a net decrease in fostering capacity 
  • 13 per cent of all fostering households had stopped fostering by the end of the year  
  • while enquiries to foster remain high, the number of applications received were 21 per cent lower than 2017 to 2018.  

The stark reality is that children in foster care are not always placed with a foster family able to meet all their needs. This includes their cultural, language and religious needs, in a location essential for maintaining community, school, family and friends’ connections. 

Speaking of the research which will call for survey and interview participants in February 2023, Kate Lawson, director of external relations at The Fostering Network, says: ‘This is a vital and timely opportunity for foster carers and fostering services in England to share their experiences of retaining and recruiting foster carers to meet the needs of children.  

‘This research will aim to answer many questions surrounding why foster carers leave the role and produce key recommendations to make long-term improvements.’  

Dr Ellie Ott, senior advisor at the Centre for Evidence and Implementation explains: ‘We are pleased to have this unique opportunity to partner with The Fostering Network.  

‘We aim to better understand, and ultimately, improve the recruitment and retention of foster carers in England by looking at existing data, analysing differences between demographics, and conducting a survey and interviews.’ 

To register your interest in taking part in the research, visit our webpage.

Findings will be published in Spring 2023.