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Status of foster care has to improve

All fostering services in the UK should implement a foster carers’ charter to improve the status of foster care, the Fostering Network has urged.

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The charity’s latest report shows that foster carers are not treated with the respect and value their vital role warrants, and not given the support they need to help children thrive.

Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, says: “If governments, services and the whole sector want to tackle the retention and recruitment issues facing foster care, and also make a significant positive change to the experiences and outcomes of the growing number of children coming into care each year, the status of foster carers must be improved.”

The report, based on the charity’s State of the Nation’s Foster Care 2021 survey, shows the continued failure to position foster carers firmly as key members of the social care workforce, which risks undermining their ability to fully meet the needs of the children and young people they are caring for.

The report found:

  • Just 57 per cent of foster carers usually or always feel treated as an equal and valued member of the team around the child by the child’s social worker.  

  • Only 37 per cent of foster carers said they always felt able to make decisions delegated to them on behalf of the child.

  • One third of foster carers stated that children’s social workers rarely or never respond in a timely manner to decisions they do not have the authority to make themselves.

  • Just nine per cent of foster carers reported receiving more than the national living wage per calendar month.

The charity believes that the implementation and regular review of a foster carers’ charter that is embedded into the fostering service can help to improve outcomes for children in foster care. The charter should promote partnership working and excellent practice through having clear expectations about how foster carers should be treated, trained and supported.

Kevin Williams added: “Currently, foster carers are propping up the care system, but they do so without the respect and resources their vital role warrants.

“There are some excellent examples of well-implemented charters that are having a positive impact on both children and the foster carer workforce. We are calling on the remaining services across the UK to embed a charter, support our foster carers and ensure our children have the childhood they deserve,” he concluded.

The Fostering Network provides a template charter on their website that fostering services can use to develop their own.

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