Every year people are excited to see what the theme of the John Lewis & Partners Christmas advert will be. This year's advert reminded our Head of Practice, Lucy Hopkins, of all the times she arrived at the homes of foster carers with children or young people who were anxious, scared, worried and hungry, having just been separated from their families. Foster carers do a great job and rarely get the recognition they deserve, and the real experiences of children in care are largely unrepresented in the media, so we hope this advert will help people to know a little bit more about the reality of the situation and what life can be like for children and young people who are not able to live with their birth families.
Recent Ofsted statistics have shown that one in eight fostering households have left fostering, and that means that there are more foster carers leaving than joining. In addition, in the same time period of 2021-22 the number of foster carer applications was at its lowest for several years, and there were 5% fewer foster placements for children than there was four years ago.
5435 – deregistered foster carers
4035 – registered and approved foster carers
8280 – foster carer applications
The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care said that 9000 more foster carers were needed in order to address “an immediate and pressing shortage”.
The cost of living crisis is of course going to have an impact on everyone, including fostering households who may have an additional one, two or three children to care for, and therefore it is important that foster carers are further supported by local authorities in order to be able to continue providing a home for children. The alternative is that local authority foster carers are moving to independent fostering agencies, who offer considerably more money than local authorities. A FosterWiki survey this year said that 54% of foster carers were considering resigning due to the cost of living crisis impacting on their finances, so it is likely that the problem around foster placement shortages is only going to worsen. For children this may mean the need for a residential placement, siblings being separated, or children being placed a significantly long way away from their birth families, friends and schools.
We have posted a link to the advert on our LinkedIn page and would love to hear what other people think about this year’s theme. It is an important message and by talking about it and sharing our posts and comments we can help raise awareness of the challenges experienced by children and young people living away from their homes. Visit our page and join in the conversation!
View the advert and our post here: