Fostering – The government has unveiled a new package of support to help local authorities attract and retain more foster carers from a wider range of backgrounds.
Speaking at the National Fostering Agency’s annual conference, the Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson announced a new package of support totalling £750,000 which will be used to:
- provide Fostering Network with £250,000 over 2 years to boost local recruitment of foster carers and help councils share good practice nationally
- provide intervention programmes for looked-after children and those on the edge of care and custody and their families
- fund 3 partnerships between local authorities and independent fostering services to explore new ways of recruitment and retaining a wider group of foster carers – including working professionals and those with the skills and experience to care for children with more complex needs
Today’s announcement will support local authorities in recruiting foster carers who have the specialist skills to care for vulnerable children with different needs – giving them the support and stable environment they need to thrive and reach their full potential.
The minister said:
Growing up with over 80 foster brothers and sisters, I know from my own experience that foster care can provide an incredibly valuable opportunity for children to experience stable family life.
Fundamental to this challenge is the successful recruitment and retention of carers – in particular, those capable of caring for sibling groups and children with complex needs. We know that three quarters of children in care are fostered, and that some local authorities need more help to get this right.
This Foster Care Fortnight we are announcing £750,000 over the next 2 years to help local fostering services recruit a broader range of foster carers.
Lucy Peake, Director of External Affairs at the Fostering Network, said:
The Fostering Network has been at the forefront of foster carer recruitment activity over the past decade, and is delighted to have been awarded the contract for this ground breaking new approach.
Over the next 2 years this work will tell us more about what motivates and drives foster carers, so that we can support fostering services to get better at recruitment and retention.
Research published earlier this month suggests that over half a million people are considering fostering, but are put off because of the myths about the process and confusion about what fostering involves, and whether they are eligible to foster.
While the number of foster carers is increasing, with over 67,000 children in care last year, the government wants to address the shortfall of foster carers in some parts of the country and encourage a wider range of people to come forward to foster.
Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of reforms the government has made to ensure that local fostering services are able to attract carers with the skills, enthusiasm and ability to care for some of the most vulnerable children.
Alongside the measures in the Children and Families Bill, the government is taking significant action to reform the approval process for foster carers to make the system faster and more efficient, so that the children who need them find stable, loving homes quickly.
The government has also recently published its response to the ‘Adoption and fostering: tackling delay’ consultation, which sets out the changes which will come into force this summer, including:
- making the foster carer assessment process clearer and more efficient
- introducing a fast track process for foster carers that want to adopt
- increasing focus on giving foster carers the authority to make day-to-day decisions about their foster children – such as haircuts and school trips – allowing them to get on with the job of looking after children in their care