In response to today’s report on fostering in England by the House of Commons Education Committee, Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said:
We’re delighted that the children’s minister has today announced during a debate in Parliament that fostered children aged three and four in England will be able to access the 15 additional hours free childcare from September 2018. This will bring to an end to the discriminatory policy decision that came into force in September, and we thank the Department for Education for hearing our concerns and those of our members.
13 charities and organisations have called upon the Westminster Government to overturn the discriminatory decision to exclude all fostered children from accessing the additional 15 hours free childcare.
In a letter in The Guardian, the organisations urge the Children’s Minister, Robert Goodwill, to review the eligibility criteria and to reverse the decision immediately.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network and a member of the expert working group, said: ‘Half of all looked after children have a diagnosable mental health disorder and five times as many children in care have low subjective wellbeing compared to children in the general population; the issue of transforming the mental health of looked after children could not be more urgent. Three-quarters of looked after children live with foster carers, so any such transformation must have foster carers and fostering at its centre.
Nearly 1,500 foster carers in England took part in the survey which revealed that, although the number of foster carers who receive a fee payment is increasing, only one in 10 receives the equivalent of the national living wage for a 40-hour week.
Other key findings from the survey include:
The Fostering Network launches a month of celebrations this week, thanking the sons and daughters of foster carers for the vital contribution they make to fostering.
Sons and Daughters Month is the annual campaign from the charity that recognises the part that birth and adopted children play in welcoming fostered children into their families. Fostering services around the country will be holding events to celebrate the contribution of sons and daughters.
The figures confirm the central role that fostering plays in the care system, which further cements the need to ensure that the right foster carers are available for each child, and that foster carers receive the proper financial and practical support needed.
Recruiting the right people to become foster carers is difficult, and is an ongoing challenge for fostering services. The Fostering Network estimates that a further 7,000 foster families are needed in the next year, but this is what recruitment teams do all day, every day, and – contrary to some recent media statements – we believe it’s entirely achievable.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network said: 'We read today’s report from the BBC and Adoption UK about the number of adoptive families who are in ‘crisis’ with great concern and sadness. The children who are being talked about in the report are the children who thousands of foster carers are looking after every day, and we recognise the difficulties and challenges being described.
In response to the findings of the survey of frontline social workers carried out on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC), Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said: ‘We have read with concern the findings of the survey which found that thresholds for qualifying as a "child in need" had risen over the last three years and that the majority of social workers feel that financial considerations are a key factor when d