The Fostering Network is backing calls made this weekend for the government to introduce an entitlement to support for children and families when they return home from care after it was revealed in a new report that an estimated £300 million is spent each year on failed reunifications of families in England.
The report, published by Loughborough University and NSPCC, claims that failed reuniﬁcations, which result in children re-entering care, have signiﬁcantly higher costs than improving support to meet the needs of children and families when children return home from care would. It is estimated that the annual cost of providing support and services to meet the needs of all children and families returning home from care is £56 million.
Fostering is about giving a child a safe and secure home, for some children and young people the plan will be for them to return home to a parent or relative. This is the most common outcome for children in care, with 35 per cent of all children who ceased to be looked after returning home in 2012–13.
Helen Keaney, practice support team manager at The Fostering Network, said: “The reunification of families where possible is a top priority for all involved in the care system, and for the Government. We need to be fully aware of the true costs of reunification and set realistic budgets to support and ensure success and stability for children and their families. We must look at providing a support package for families as a whole which is both effective and cost-effective providing the most positive outcomes for all involved.
“Supporting families when a child is reintroduced to their home can make both the child and family feel more secure and able to cope with the situation. If the care system doesn’t support people on the edge of care from coming back into care then we are failing to put the care into the system.”
You can read the report on the NSPCC website.