Foster Care Fortnight special: The lived experiences of children in foster care


Today, The Fostering Network has launched a new report in partnership with NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service) which looks at the experiences of children and young people who have grown up in foster care. The launch of ’This is My Home: Growing Up in Foster Care’ comes during Foster Care Fortnight, the UK’s biggest annual awareness-raising campaign for foster care.

The latest research features conversations with care-experienced children and young people, who shared their experiences of growing up in foster care. Reflecting the positive impact that foster carers can have on children’s lives, one young person said: “Foster parents are something the care system has to be proud of.”

The report, produced in collaboration with the one of the UK's leading children’s rights charities, NYAS, also highlights some of the challenges facing foster care across England and Wales. There are increasing numbers of children coming into care in both countries, but more foster carers are leaving than joining. In a survey of foster carers across the UK, only 61% said the allowance they were given by the government covered the cost of caring for the child. The lack of regulation around allowances can lead to a difference of up to £10,000 per year. *

A key finding from the new report centres on the concerns of care-experienced young people about the poor communication they received when they first entered foster care. Many weren’t told the likely duration of their stay or the circumstances surrounding their move, which often impacted the relationships they built with their foster carers.

NYAS and The Fostering Network also spoke to care leavers over the age of 18, who shared their feelings of anxiety and uncertainty when leaving care. They welcomed schemes that support young care experienced people who have reached the age of 18 to address the reality that too often care-experienced young people can feel pressured to live independently from their 18th birthday when they may well not be ready for such a significant step.

NYAS CEO Rita Waters has said "NYAS are delighted to have been able to work with The Fostering Network on this report for Foster Care Fortnight. The research highlights the long-term positive impacts foster care can have for children and young people in England and Wales and celebrates the important role of foster carers. The report also highlights that children and young people are still facing challenges to accessing advocacy and having their voices heard. NYAS are calling for all care-experienced children and young people to be able to access their right to advocacy and have their voices heard".

The Fostering Network CEO Sarah Thomas has said “This report clearly demonstrates the transformative power of foster care for children and young people, but it also challenges us to think where we can do better for our children. The report highlights the need for more foster carers to support children and young people, keeping them close to their families and communities into adulthood. This Foster Care Fortnight, we are calling on Governments to focus their efforts on increasing the number of foster carers so all children can be placed with carers that meet their needs.”

NYAS, alongside The Fostering Network, is calling on the UK and Welsh Governments to consider six recommendations, which include increased rates of allowances for foster carers, the extension of post 18 foster care schemes to 25 and the introduction of an opt-out offer of advocacy to ensure children have their voices heard.

Read the full report here. 

Notes to editors:

This report is part of NYAS ‘This is My Home’ research series which spotlights conversations with care-experienced children and young people and the experiences of growing up in different types of care across England and Wales. With thanks to all the young people who working with NYAS and The Fostering Network and contributed their views and experience to this research.

About NYAS: National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) is a leading children’s rights charity and provider of support services for children in care. Since 1989, they have been delivering services to support and empower children and adults in vulnerable situations.

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 and young people who are fostered to make foster care the very best it can be.

Foster Care Fortnight: Foster Care Fortnight™ is the UK’s biggest foster care awareness raising campaign, delivered by leading fostering charity, The Fostering Network. Established in 1997, the campaign showcases the commitment, passion and dedication of foster carers. It also supports fostering services to highlight the need for more foster carers. Thousands of new foster families are needed every year to care for children, with the greatest need being for foster carers for older children, sibling groups, disabled children and unaccompanied asylum seeking children.

*Findings from The Fostering Network ‘Our children deserve better’ report 2023.

Media contacts:

(NYAS) Annie Wilford - PR and Communications Officer

(The Fostering Network) Jasmine Rapson - Press and Communications Officer