Foster carers are facing financial insecurity after falling through the gaps of government funding schemes according to leading fostering organisations in the UK.
In an open letter to governments around the UK, The Fostering Network, alongside TACT, the Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers (NAFP), CoramBAAF (and AFA in Scotland) is calling for foster carers, who are not covered by existing funding schemes, to be financially supported.
The letter states: ‘[Foster carers’] role has never been more important as the coronavirus pandemic undermines and disrupts every aspect of family, education and community functioning.
‘Despite this vital role they undertake, foster carers are facing financial insecurity.’
The consortium also emphasises the importance and urgency of additional funding to meet the changing needs of the 65,000 children currently in foster care who, by necessity, must now spend far more time indoors. This funding would be used for resources such as subscriptions, home schooling materials including laptops, and devices to use to replace face to face contact with siblings and other family members.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said: ‘Foster carers make a vital contribution in transforming the lives of the children and young people in their care. It is essential that in times such as these we look after the most vulnerable in our society, and while huge steps have been taken to do this, foster carers and the children they look after are falling through the gaps.
‘We are calling for this to be addressed urgently. Funding must be made available so that foster carers can continue providing stable, loving homes to children and young people who need them.’
Andy Elvin, chief executive of TACT, said: ‘It is essential that foster carers are recognised as having a key role in this crisis. We are expecting a lot of our foster families and local and central government need to step up and urgently support these frontline carers financially & practically.’
Harvey Gallagher, chief executive of NAFP, said: ‘Foster carers are digging deep at these difficult times and getting on with things, which is what good foster carers do. They are resourceful and continue to offer a stable and supportive home life for children in care. I have every confidence in them but we need government to acknowledge this huge contribution with more than words. These are unique times and government should directly offer foster carers the funds they need and not rely on already hard-pressed local authorities.’
John Simmonds, director of policy, research and development at CoramBAAF, said: ‘The greater majority of children in care are placed in foster care. There are a wide range of issues that result in children coming into care but for the majority, this results from abuse and neglect. These children range from new-born babies to adolescents. Foster carers provide these children with day to day routine care as all parents do but this includes caring for children who are typically traumatised. It could not be a more challenging task but delivered by a remarkable group of devoted carers. The pandemic has raised a large number of issues for foster carers and the system as a whole. Foster carers need to be recognised as key workers with direct access to the financial support available to others. It must be recognised as a priority issue.’
The letters can be read below: