State of the Nation's Foster Care 2016

In 2016 The Fostering Network collated the views of foster carers through our State of the Nation survey, which we conduct every two years in order to find out what key issues need to be addressed. Three-quarters of looked after children in the UK are cared for by foster families, meaning that improving the outcomes for children in care must start with improving foster care.

2016 Impact Report

It has now been two years since the survey. This report summarises the positive impact we have had as a result of collating this data from foster carers. The 2018 survey has just closed and we will be reporting on its results in January 2019.

Read the 2016 Impact Report

Read the full 2016 State of the Nation's Foster Care report

You said, we did!

“I have fought very hard to get others in the team around me to see me as an equal professional, many social workers - particularly the child’s team - often afford us no respect whatsoever…it’s something that needs improving.” 

This is the opinion of just one of the 2,530 UK foster carers we surveyed from July to September 2016. This was the by far the biggest, and most independent, survey of foster carers in the UK. Find out below how we used your views in 2016 to improve foster care.

1. Allowances

You told us: Our allowances do not meet the full cost of looking after the children in our care. 

  • Our annual survey of allowances led to eight local authorities in England pledging to bring their allowances up to the national minimum in 2018.
  • The Education Committee took on board our recommendations for the Government to consult on allowance levels in England.
  • We campaigned to hold the Scottish Government to account for their long-unfulfilled promise to conduct a review of foster care allowances with the intention of introducing a national minimum. We are a member of this review group. 
  • The data we collected in Wales formed the key evidence for the National Fostering Framework’s recommendation to streamline fees and allowances across the country.


2. Foster carer status

You told us: We want to be recognised as a key member of the team around the child, treated with respect and acknowledged as experts in the children that we are caring for.  

  • We have led on generating a national debate in this area in recent years, and have ensured that all of our submissions to policy initiatives have focused on this as a key issue.
  • Our foster carers’ charter campaign is calling for a charter to be adopted in every fostering service in the UK, and so far 63 are in place.
  • The Education Committee in England accepted our recommendations that a central list of foster carers would improve safeguarding and support increased portability of the workforce as well “centralising training and development resources”.
  • In Wales and Scotland we have told the public accounts committee and care review that national registers are required in both countries.


3. Peer support

You told us: Support from our peers is crucial and often makes a big difference to the stability and success of placements. 

  • The Fostering Network has been leading good practice in this area over the past two years. Our Mockingbird Family Model project, which uses an extended family model providing respite care, peer support, regular joint planning and training, and social activities, is currently being implemented in 21 fostering services in England.
  • In England, the stocktake recommended that “all Fostering Services should consider introducing structured peer support for carers”, and cited the Mockingbird Family Model as an example of good practice . 
  • The foster carers’ charter, which we have sent to every fostering service in the country, contains a commitment from every fostering service that they will “ensure that there is a local group, recognised by the fostering service, where you and your family can find support and share experiences with other fostering families.” 
  • In Scotland we are delivering peer support opportunities through our lottery-funded foster carer champions project, in which 36 experienced foster carers are available to provide support and advice to other carers across the country, particularly those who may be new to fostering.
  • In Wales our foster carer ambassadors are hosting and speaking at events, showcasing fostering achievements, and providing peer support to other carers. The Confidence in Care project is also providing 125 support groups for foster carers.

Download the key findings

Since publishing the report in February 2017 we have been using the survey findings to influence the fostering agenda and to create change by bringing the survey to the attention of national and local decision and policy makers.

It is now time to take the pulse of foster care again through the 2018 State of the Nation survey.

Download our 2016 impact report, which provides a summary of the progress we have made since 2016 in advocating for the State of the Nation’s recommendations to be implemented.