Our manifesto for the future of foster care

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We know that good foster care makes a real difference to children and young people’s lives. We believe that it is time for the governments of the UK to focus on foster care, to ensure that all children who are fostered receive assistance to experience the best possible childhood and a positive start to their adult lives.

Foster carers provide children with stability, security, attachment, and often their first positive experience of family life. However, the system does not always support foster carers to do this and some children are moved unnecessarily between homes.

These problems mean that outcomes for such children are not good enough because they are not able to meet their potential. That is why we campaign for change.

We believe that it is now time for the governments of the UK to focus on foster care. It is essential that investment is made in the futures of all looked after children and young people in order to close the gap between outcomes for this group and those for other young people.

To help fostered children achieve the very best they can, we need a system whereby:

  • Every fostered child and young person has security and stability in their foster home, is helped to make and maintain relationships, is supported to stay until they are ready to leave and is helped to reach their potential.
  • Every foster carer is respected as a professional child care expert, given all the information they need to care for each child properly, fully involved in decision making and empowered to make appropriate day to day decisions concerning the children in their care.
  • Every foster carer is both fairly compensated for the expenses incurred in caring for a child in their home and paid for their time according to their skills and experience.

To achieve this we believe we need to see:

Investment and monitoring

  • Government financial support to ensure that foster care does not suffer from the pressures on local government budgets.
  • National strategies backed up with funding for the implementation of innovative approaches such as social pedagogy and other evidence-based schemes.
  • Delivery on recent policy changes around long-term foster care in England.
  • Fostering services to provide schemes which allow young people to stay with their foster families after they turn 18. Delivery and implementation of these schemes need to be monitored.
  • A focus on permanence for all children in care.

A recognition of the importance of relationships

  • Wherever possible, and in their best interests, children must be placed with their brothers and sisters.
  • Where this is not possible or appropriate, contact between siblings should be maintained, supported and promoted.
  • More help should be given to children and young people and their foster carers when placements go through challenging times.
  • All fostered children should be made aware of the support and services available to them, and should have access to an independent adult they can trust.
  • Children and young people should be more involved in all decisions made about them, particularly when it involves ending placements and moving homes.
  • The relationships children and young people make should be supported and protected when a placement ends, for example with previous foster carers.

A professional framework around fostering

  • A national register of foster carers in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
  • A cultural shift to ensure foster carers are treated as full members of the team around the child, that information is shared with them, and that they can exercise appropriate day-to-day decision making.
  • Poor practice in care planning being addressed, thereby increasing stability, reducing unnecessary placement moves, and ensuring that fostering placements are properly supported.
  • Fostering allowances keeping pace with costs, and foster carers paid according to their time, skills and expertise.

A new approach to social work

  • An increased emphasis on fostering and the role of foster carers in social work training, to ensure social workers have a sound understanding of foster care.
  • Children’s social workers being given manageable caseloads to improve availability and consistency of support for fostered children.
  • The turnover of social workers – which is so damaging to both fostered children and foster families – being urgently addressed.

Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers

The Fostering Network is also part of the Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers, an umbrella group of like-minded charities working together in England to improve outcomes for this group of young people. We are supporting the Alliance’s vision for children and young people in and leaving care.

Download the Alliance's New Vision, and a corresponding young people's version.