Make foster carers vaccine priority to prevent ‘catastrophic impact’ on social care system

With the coronavirus vaccine rollout underway, The Fostering Network is urging UK governments to issue guidance to local authorities and health services that all foster carers fall within priority group two as an essential part of the social care workforce.

Foster carers are a vital part of our social care system, and are currently putting themselves and their families at increased risk of contracting the virus through exposure to multiple households as they maintain contact with birth families, as well as meeting with social workers and other professionals in the course of their work. If they are not given this priority access, foster carers remain extremely vulnerable to infection and we face the very real potential for part of the social care system to be seriously diminished at a time when it is needed more than ever.

The Fostering Network’s helplines have been exceptionally busy, with calls from foster carers indicating that they are increasingly under pressure to support face to face contact and to take children to school, regardless of the risks to their own health, that of their family and other looked after children in placement.

Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said: ‘We have already called on the UK governments to give foster carers priority access to vaccines, and this need is only increasing in urgency every day as foster carers are expected to interact with a range of people from other households in the course of their work.

‘Priority access to vaccinations is the only way to ensure the safety of our foster carers and the children they care for, as well as to prevent a potentially catastrophic impact on the social care system itself.‘Foster carers perform a vital role in society and must be well protected alongside their health and social care peers.’

The Fostering Network has launched a campaign action to encourage its members and supporters in England to ask their MPs to contact the Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment, Nadhim Zahawi, to urge him to include foster carers in priority group two for the vaccine roll out, alongside health and social care workers.