We welcome Nadhim Zahawi to his new role as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education. We note with some concern that this is an unpaid position, and truly hope this is not a reflection of the priority placed on the role by this Government. Indeed, it is vital that his appointment marks the start of an increased profile for children's social care as well as a new period of stability within the Department for Education, especially given the importance of 2018 for fostering. We will be seeking a meeting with Mr Zahawi at the earliest opportunity.
We look forward to the release of the national fostering stocktake report as soon as possible – it is essential that publication is not delayed as a result of the ministerial change. We would urge the Minister to fulfil the Government’s commitment to consult widely with the fostering sector – including foster carers and especially fostered children and young people - on the report’s recommendations before making any decisions on the direction forward.
The Minister will also have a vital role in driving forward the much-needed improvements to fostering that result from the stocktake consultation. While 2017 saw a significant focus on fostering, with the Education Committee’s inquiry and the stocktake, it was a year of conversation, introspection and discussion rather than action, momentum and change. This is the year when change must happen within fostering, and we need the Minister to lead the way - thousands of fostered children and young people, as well as the families that care for them, are depending upon him to deliver.