No Good Options report - our response

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Responding to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC) report, No Good Options, which brings together information gathered through their inquiry, Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said: 'We welcome the publication of this report for which we submitted written and oral evidence based on the results of a UK-wide survey of foster carers on the impact of funding cuts to local authority budgets.

'The Fostering Network is deeply concerned that the increased demand for children in care services coupled with cuts to local authority budgets due to austerity measures has placed growing pressure on the care system. This report, with its strong evidence base, is yet another call to urgent action by the Westminster Government. The children’s social care system is "struggling to keep pace with increasing and diversifying demand", and a lack of urgent action will result in children being adversely affected.

'In particular, we support the report’s recommendation that the Department for Education and the Department for Communities and Local Government should conduct a review of resourcing of social care services. There is need for a more in-depth understanding of the most effective way to spend money in order to secure the best outcomes for children and to address the great variation in access to children’s services. What is clear is that action must be taken to avoid access to, and quality of, children’s social care services becoming a "postcode lottery."

'The report highlights the importance of stable and positive relationships for children but that stability is constantly undermined by staff shortages, high turnover of social workers and multiple placement moves. In our recent State of the Nation’s Foster Care report 49 per cent of foster carers had experienced a placement ending when they felt it was not in the child’s best interests and 61 per cent of foster carers who had experienced a placement ending said it had not been preceded by a review. This is unacceptable and is not in the best interest of fostered children, especially when we know that positive outcomes are closely linked to stability. Every effort must be made to eliminate the factors that this report identifies which negatively impact stability.

'However, despite all the challenges that this report identifies, there is much good practice within the fostering sector that the wider sector could learn from, not least the stable, positive relationships between children and foster carers. This is something that was identified by the Care Inquiry which highlighted relationships as the golden thread running through care. That is why The Fostering Network has put such an emphasis on projects which support relationships and stability such as Head, Heart, Hands and Mockingbird.

'We commend this report, its findings and the APPG for holding such a vital inquiry, and look forward to seeing how the Government will address the relevant recommendations through its fostering stocktake.'