Response to The Fostering System in England review

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Responding to the publication of The Fostering System in England which was commissioned to inform the Westminster Government's national stocktake of fostering, Jackie Sanders, director of communications and public affairs at The Fostering Network said: 'The literature review is a comprehensive round up of the significant issues surrounding fostering in 2017. We are pleased that the reviewers have highlighted the positive impact that foster care has on fostered children and young people. As the report says: "Most fostered children go on to lead happy, healthy, productive lives as adults and are generally positive about the care they receive."

'Austerity is, as the review indicates, having a significant impact on fostering. Local authorities have, on the whole, done their best to ensure that cuts are not affecting fostered children’s outcomes, but this is no longer possible. The Westminster Government must fund children’s services sufficiently - we cannot allow some of the most vulnerable children and young people in our society to be adversely affected by the cuts.

'What is clear is that outcomes for fostered children and young people depend very much on placement stability, and this in turn depends on them being placed with the right foster carer at the first time of asking. Recruitment is a year-round activity for most fostering services, and must be targeted and based on actual need. This requires a careful local needs analysis by each local authority of their children in care population, allowing subsequent local recruitment campaigns which target recruiting the appropriate carers. Retention of these carers is also crucial. In order to improve both recruitment and retention, the Government needs to ensure that all foster carers are well respected, sufficiently remunerated, offered ongoing training and properly supported – foster carers need to be seen as co-professionals in the team around the child and to be treated as such.  

'The relationship between social workers and foster carers is crucial to the outcomes of fostered children. Our State of the Nation’s Foster Care survey indicated that foster carers, on the whole, reported a positive view of support from their supervising social worker. However, a third reported that children’s social workers did not treat them as an equal, and other surveys have highlighted the lack of children’s access to their social workers and unacceptable levels of social worker turnover. It is crucial that all social workers working with foster families are given manageable caseloads and empowered and supported to do their jobs properly.'