Response to prime minister's 2015 conference speech
In response to prime minister David Cameron’s speech at the Conservative Party conference, Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network said:
‘We are delighted to hear the prime minister’s commitment to keeping children living successfully with their families wherever that is possible. However, when, for a range of reasons, this isn’t possible, it is vital that the best permanence option is found for each child in care who won’t be going home. This may be adoption or living with the wider family, but for the vast majority of children and young people the most appropriate option is foster care. Therefore, we would have liked to have heard the prime minister acknowledge, as his children’s minister often does, the role that foster carers play in looking after, and developing, tens of thousands of young people in care across the country.
‘We believe that good foster care offers the love, support and stability that all young people need. Foster carers offer a rich environment in which fostered children can flourish and achieve their potential and from which fostered children can move confidently into adulthood and independence and not into a “lifetime of struggle”. Indeed, we are often told by care-experienced young people that they are fed up with being stigmatised and labelled so negatively. We know that the statistics, especially in regards to educational achievement, show that there is still much more that needs to be done to ensure that fostered children and young people have the same opportunities as their peers, but we should be celebrating the outstanding achievements of fostered young people rather than simply portraying them in a negative light. We are looking forward to our Fostering Excellence Awards where we will be shining a spotlight on just some of the foster carers, social workers and fostered young people who have exceeded expectations or gone the extra mile.
‘All children in care in England are ultimately the Government’s responsibility. If even some fostered children are living in poverty then the Government has an obligation to tackle that. We would call on this Government to invest significantly in fostering services and to ensure that foster carers are properly recompensed with both allowances to cover expenses, and fees in recognition of the skills and experience they bring to this essential role. Foster carers are on the front line when it comes to caring for young people in this country, and they need to be seen as such by the Government and everyone else involved in the lives of fostered children.
‘Good foster care works. Many children thrive when they are placed with the right foster carers at the right time. Yes, there is more to be done to make foster care the best it can possibly be for every child, every carer, every day which is why The Fostering Network is here. And it’s why we have produced a manifesto outlining some of the things that need to be done urgently to make foster care better in England. We would ask the prime minister to read our manifesto and, along with his commitment to adoption, commit to making our manifesto a reality.’