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Comment on foster care in England

Commenting on Foster Care in England, Edwina Grant, Chair of the ADCS Health, Care & Additional Needs Policy Committee said:

“Foster carers play a vital role in the care system, providing loving homes for the overwhelming majority of children in our care. However, there is currently a shortage of foster carers while more children are coming into our care. There has been a lack of focus and investment from government in this area to date. Local authorities across the country continue to invest in local and regional recruitment campaigns to encourage more people with the right skills to foster, from all walks of life, to come forward so that we find the right home for all children who need one.

“Whilst some local authorities directly provide most of their foster care, others work in partnership with independent providers large and small who deliver all or some of this provision. Children’s services have long operated in a mixed economy with a range of providers and there is no one-size-fits-all model of delivering foster care. Where working in partnership to provide services makes sense and improves outcomes for children and young people in care local authorities will be considering this. However, ADCS members remain concerned about the significant profits being made by a small number of fostering organisations. We are concerned at the level of risk associated with the trend towards consolidation and the concentration of placements in the hands of a small number of providers. Should any of these providers fail no single local authority could step in, meaning vulnerable children would suffer the greatest consequences. Local authorities are the only purchaser of these places, yet as demand rises so do costs. ADCS would support the introduction of legislation which prevents for-profit operations, or as a minimum a cap on the level of fees chargeable in this area, similar to legislation in Scotland. This could potentially save local authorities millions and allow us to reinvest this money to develop more in-house provision and earlier intensive support, closer to the communities in which children grow up. ADCS is hopeful that the CMA market study of children’s social care provision and the independent care review will help to address some of these issues.”


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