Responding to the release of the national statistics for fostering in England from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018, chief executive of The Fostering Network, Kevin Williams, said: ‘The figures make informative reading and help paint a picture of fostering and fostered children in England.
'While recruitment has remained steady, the number of foster carers leaving the profession has risen; our concern is that this may be due to foster carers leaving because they feel under supported, under paid, and underappreciated as we so often hear from our members.
'We are disappointed to see that the number of siblings not being placed in line with their plan has risen significantly in the last two years. Sibling relationships are some of the most important in our lives, particularly for children who don’t live with their parents, so it is of real concern that so many siblings are being split up when they come into care.
'It is vital that fostering services have a good understanding of what their foster carer recruitment needs are and that the right foster carers are available at the right time in the right place otherwise children may end up living far from their friends, birth family and school, as well as being split up from their siblings.
'The number of young people missing out on the opportunities to stay living with their former foster carers under Staying Put in England is also disappointing, despite the small increase in uptake this year. These figures are especially worrying as they only consider those in a Staying Put arrangement at the age of 18 and we know that these low numbers decrease even further at age 19 and again at age 20.
'We will continue to push for improvements in the status of, and support for, foster carers and work with our members to make foster care – and Staying Put - the very best they can be, as well as urging the Government to increase investment in both these vital areas.'