The State of Foster Care

Fostering Network's 2016 report...

I’m a passionate believer in the value of foster care.

In fact I think it’s the Gold Standard for helping troubled kids who can’t live at home.

Image courtesy of ©123rf/Kateryna Davydenko

So what sort of state is the nation’s fostering system currently in?

So, how’s fostering doing?…

The Fostering Network have published their latest report into the state of Britain’s fostering system.

From July to September 2016 the network surveyed over 2500 foster carers for their views.

This report is important because it represents the views of a sector (foster carers) who look after three quarters of the children in the care system.

The findings…

Here are the main findings from the survey…

  • Only 42 per cent of foster carers felt their allowance covered the full cost of looking after fostered

    Image courtesy of ©Fostering Network

    children. This means that more than half of all foster carers are having to dip into their own pockets to cover the cost of looking after the child

    • “It can be very expensive when a child arrives with nothing; no expenses are paid for this. Holidays, Christmas and birthday allowances haven’t been paid for five years but the allowance has stayed the same.”
  • Only a quarter of foster carers described respite support as excellent or good
    • “There is no backup and support for carers and we have seen many good caring families fall apart…”

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  • 31 per cent of foster carers reported that they were rarely or never given all of the information about a fostered child prior to placement
    • “As foster carers, children’s services believe that we do not require all the historical information known on children taken into care. This could possibly be because they feel if we have all the information we are less likely to accept a placement. The reality is, if we had all the information, we would be better prepared to make an informed decision as to the suitability of the placement for our household. It would also prepare our reactions to any traumas suffered and put us in a better position to manage any behaviours we encounter from the placement.”

Image courtesy of ©Fostering Network

  • Almost a third of foster carers had been referred children from outside their defined approval range
  • Just under half of foster carers did not have an agreed training plan for the next year
  • A third of foster carers felt that children’s social workers did not treat them as an equal member of the team
The key findings [above] show clearly the ongoing need for everyone involved in the fostering world to recognise and value foster carers as the key professional in the team around the child, and for the support, terms and conditions to be enhanced, formalised and protected. – Fostering Network website (report page)

Stuck with what to do with a troubled child or young person? Help is at hand – click here…

What needs to change?…

The best people to ask are foster carers themselves.

Image courtesy of ©Fostering Network

The infographic on the right shows what they said:

  • Better information and support
  • More respect
  • Pay that matches the job

This mirrors almost exactly what we were calling for in our article “Fostercare – An Agenda For Change” back in 2014.

One foster carer cited on the Network’s website, stated:

“I have fought very hard to get others in the team around me to see me as an equal professional, many social workers – particularly the child’s team – often afford us no respect whatsoever…it’s something that needs improving.”

Foster carers should be respected as “experts on their child by social workers, teachers, health professionals and the family courts.” – Andy Elvin, CEO TACT quoted by CYPNow

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Final word…

There are some strong messages here for the government. At a time when we are seeing huge increases in referrals to social services, we must not only retain our carer base.

We must also recruit, professionalise, train and properly support a new generation of foster carers who can carry the baton forward!

What do you think?…

  • Are you a foster carer? What do you think of the report’s findings?
  • Please let me know your thoughts…   Leave a comment below or click here.

Related previous posts:

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More info…

Image courtesy of ©TACT

  • Visit the Fostering Network Website – here
  • Visit the TACT website – here
  • Download the key findings from the report – here
  • Download the full report – here

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© Jonny Matthew 2016

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  • Sarah Morgan

    Hi Jonny, only when those charged with corporate parenting responsibility are approved as foster carers, and take a child into their hearts and homes will they have true credibility within this undervalued foster care profession.
    #walkamileintheirshoes

    • Hi Sarah – it’s sad to say, but suspect you’re right. I think it’s also due to a failure to understand the power of a good foster placement (or several!) to turn a child’s life around. It can be truly transformative. More power to you! Thanks for commenting. Cheers, J.