The Fostering Network welcomes the commitment from the Government to review the care system in England. At present, there are more children in care in England than there ever has been. An independent, rigorous and evidence-based review of the care system, accompanied by sufficient funding, has the potential to create long-term positive change for children in care. Three-quarters of children in care are in foster care, meaning that fostering must take a central part in the review.
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The Fostering Network welcomes the Education Select Committee’s inquiry into the children’s social care workforce in England. Children’s social workers are pivotal throughout the fostering journey from matching a child with their foster carer to dealing with issues around contact with birth family, delegated decision making, allegations, care and pathway planning and placement support.
- The Fostering Network was instrumental in convincing the committee of the need for this Inquiry.
- Written evidence was invited up to the 25 November and we encouraged our supporters and members to contribute.
EU Nationals: Foster Carers and Fostered Children - 2018
Following on from the Government initiating the official EU withdrawal process in March 2017, there was – and continues to be – much speculation as what would happen to EU nationals who were currently residing in the UK. The Fostering Network received enquiries from fostering services worrying about approving people as foster carers who were non-UK EU nationals, and also about the long-term stability of placing fostered children with foster carers who were non-UK EU nationals.
Recruitment is a year-round activity and fostering services need to recruit to replace foster carers who are leaving the service for many different reasons.
The Fostering Network agrees with the conclusion of the Care Inquiry that relationships are the "golden thread" running through a child's life. These relationships may be multiple and diverse.
The children and young people needing foster care today have many different needs but all require their foster carers to be skilled, knowledgeable, committed to them and recognised as a key professional in the team that supports them.
Despite this, many foster carers are not paid for the skills, time and expertise they bring to fostering. Of those who are paid, only a minority receive anything resembling a living wage, although a very small number do get significant fee payments.
Foster carers keep fostered children safe and help them to achieve their potential within a tightly regulated service that places many expectations on them and requires that they have a thorough understanding of child development and the legislative and regulatory system within which they work. Depending on the needs and age of the children that they are looking after, foster carers also require an understanding of the education and healthcare systems, mental health issues, drug and alcohol dependency, child sexual exploitation, the asylum system and so on.
As the person who lives with and looks after a fostered child on a day-to-day basis, foster carers are often the team member who knows and understands them best. But we regularly hear from foster carers who say they are not recognised and treated as such, and are not given all the information they need and the authority to make day-to-day decisions.