Announcement of 15 extra hours of free childcare for fostered children in England

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Today the Westminster Government formally announced how it will introduce the 15 extra hours of free childcare for fostered children in England from September. Responding to the announcement, Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network said: ‘We warmly welcome this announcement which comes following a campaign led by The Fostering Network and our supporters. We were dismayed when we first realised that fostered children aged three and four in England were initially excluded from the additional 15 hours of free childcare a week that had been made available to parents since September 2017. Today’s announcement is an important milestone in rectifying that exclusion and we welcome the receptiveness of the Department for Education to our campaigning.

'We have been working closely with the Government to assist their development of this new policy – especially given there are particularly complexities for foster carers. We know that not all foster carers will be eligible (which is also the case for birth parents) and that the 15 extra hours will not be appropriate for all fostered children, but to automatically have been excluded was discriminatory and inexplicable. We believe that it should be left to the judgment of the foster carer and the social worker as to whether taking up these extra hours is appropriate for the child or not.

'We also believe that some foster carers, particularly family and friends carers and those offering long-term fostering, will need or want to combine fostering with work outside of the home because they already have a job when they start fostering, they want to model going to work, they enjoy working or, because of financial pressures, they have to go to work. This extension of the 15 extra hours to foster carers will enable them to be able to do so. This is particularly good news for the recruitment of foster carers and is consistent with the message from Government that fostering can be combined with other work.'