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National Fostering Stocktake comment

Responding to the Department for Education’s National Fostering Stocktake report Alison Michalska, President of ADCS, said:

“We welcome the publication of this report. Foster carers provide stable, loving homes to the vast majority of children and young people in our care. The love and support they offer to the children they care for can be transformative. There is much to celebrate about the foster care system - overall children’s views about fostering are positive and many children feel their lives are better in care. However, we recognise improvements can be made to the system which would benefit foster carers and the children they care for.

“Foster carers have a unique relationship with the children in their care - they know them better than anyone else. They absolutely should be treated ‘professionally’ in that they should be valued, supported and listened to as a key part of the team around the child. Local authorities are ambitious about improving outcomes for children in care but know we cannot achieve this without supporting those who care for them. The provision of high quality training and support for foster carers is something local authorities are committed to but the impact of austerity and budget cuts on the range and reach of services we are able to provide cannot be underestimated. Whilst the majority of children in care return home the report raises important questions for government around the role of the care system and local authorities’ capacity to support families at the earliest opportunity to make positive changes in their lives and to stay together. There has been a lack of focus and investment from government in this area to date. We need the right support services in place to support families, both early help and edge of care services, to stop problems from escalating and to prevent children from coming into and returning to care.

“We would support the establishment of a permanence board. A shared language and holistic focus on permanence as a whole is long overdue and would be a helpful step away from the current siloed approach. However, ADCS would not support the creation of a national register for foster carers. Maintaining a national register would be a huge logistical task and require significant ongoing funding. It is also unclear how a register would improve the recruitment of foster carers who are willing to care for the cohort of children in care. This money would be better invested in services to support children and young people directly such as improving the support available to foster carers and developing a national foster care recruitment campaign to recruit more carers willing to care for older children, sibling groups and children with complex needs, for example.

“Foster care plays a crucial role in the child protection system and we hope this report will result in meaningful change and positively impact on the lives of children and young people in care.”


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