In 2018 The Fostering Network gathered the views of foster carers through our State of the Nation survey, which we conduct every two years to find out what key issues need to be addressed.
500 foster carers in Scotland responded to the survey. Three-quarters of children in care in Scotland who are looked after away from home and family are living with foster families. This means that improving the outcomes for children in care must start with improving the practical and financial support for foster carers who play such a vital role in transforming children's lives.
State of Scotland's Foster Care report
The survey, which took place in the summer of 2018, covered key practice and workforce issues such as placement stability, training and support for carers, and status and authority of the workforce. In total, 500 foster carers across Scotland took our survey. The messages are clear: foster carers feel that there is a lack of support, training, respect and remuneration.
Findings from the report show virtually no improvement since the last survey two years ago in a range of key areas, including:
- Six in 10 foster carers (no change since 2016) say that the allowance – the money they are given to spend on a child they are fostering – does not meet the full costs, with many reporting that they are having to dip into their own pockets. National minimum allowances are established in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Despite years of campaigning and a promise from the Scottish Government that is now over 10 years old, there is still no recommended minimum allowance for children in foster care in Scotland.
- Just over a quarter of foster carers (27 per cent compared with 26 per cent in 2016) say they do not feel able to make day-to-day decisions about the children in their care, meaning that children living in foster care may miss out on normal family, social and school activities.
- Too many foster carers do not feel that they are treated as an equal and valued member of the team by their fostered child’s social workers, with only 63 per cent (down from 74 per cent in 2016) saying that they do.
When being asked to look after a child outside of the age range they have been assessed and approved to foster, nearly three-quarters of foster carers (73 per cent compared to 70 per cent in 2016) are not given the additional support or training which would help them to best meet the child’s particular needs.
Our report includes many recommendations for the Scottish Government, fostering services and local authorities.