This has been written as a companion piece to the recent blog ‘Foster a notion of true value’ because the timing of a recent news item is so apposite. That blog focused particularly upon the way resources can be squandered on misconceived projects, when a fraction of the sums involved, targeted, properly, can make an enormous difference to people’s lives. The leading charity The Fostering Network, has just issued a warning that the fostering system in the UK is now under ‘unsustainable strain’. In their view, this poses a direct risk to past successes in raising the aspirations of all who foster – children and foster carers.
Currently in this country, there is already a crisis: there is a shortfall of 9,000 new foster families and the charity judges that the current parlous situation, is likely to undermine the conditions, terms, recruitment and retention of foster carers. This is far from conjecture. The warning is contained in the charity’s second ‘State of the Nation’s Foster Care’ report. This was based on a survey of over 2,500 UK foster carers. It was the largest report of its kind and produced some disturbing findings. Paying attention to these is an exigency the government can simply no longer ignore. To do so will mean there will be grievous financial and societal consequences to be faced in the not too distant future.
The message from those who foster
The current findings follow an earlier report produced in 2016 by the charity which flagged that the well-being of foster children was already likely to be compromised as a result of cuts in Government funding to local authorities. Such an egregious threat to vulnerable children is now compounded by some of the key findings of this latest report:
the proportion of foster carers who say they would definitely recommend fostering to others had fallen from 66 per cent in the year 2014 to 55 per cent in the year 2016;
only 42 per cent of foster carers thought their allowance was sufficient to cover the full cost of caring for foster children – this compares with 80 per cent in 2014;
31 per cent of foster carers reported that they were rarely, or never given all the information about a fostered child prior to their arrival.
The main three things that foster carers would like to change in order to help them improve the lives of the children and young people that they look after were: improving the communication and support from their fostering service; being treated more as a professional; and better financial support.
What is encouraging is that money is not the sole concern expressed by foster carers. On the other hand it demonstrates that their goodwill is now being taken advantage of. The near halving of opinion viewing the allowance as being sufficient is likely to have a drastic impact on attempt to encourage more people to become foster carers in the first place. It is also significant; as it it has an important bearing on recruitment, that fewer carers feel positive about recommending fostering to others.
The Fostering Network’s chief executive, Kevin Williams, stated:
“This report paints a picture of a fostering system which is under unsustainable strain and which is being held together by the goodwill and commitment of thousands of dedicated foster carers. After many decades of campaigning for improvements to the fostering system, we are now seeing – perhaps for the first time – an erosion of those hard-won gains. We cannot allow this to continue.”
“For decades fostering has benefited from a dedicated, committed and expert workforce of foster carers who spend their days and years helping fostered children transform their lives. We believe that the State of the Nation report acts as a warning to governments across the UK that this dedication should not be taken for granted any longer. For the sake of current and future generations of looked after children, real change is needed, and it is needed now.”
Thinking about fostering children? Then please don’t forget ‘Rainbow Rewards’
Rainbow is a fostering agency with its headquarters in London. We pay a bonus of £500, if you are in a position to refer someone to be a foster carer with our agency. Payment will be made once your referral has been approved, and the first placement made. For those people who already foster, they can transfer to Rainbow easily and will also qualify for a bonus. Foster carers who are already looking after youngsters on a long-term basis will qualify.
And the good news at the end of this particular rainbow…the tremendous response to our Twitter campaign based around encouraging child literacy continues. We want all our children to definitely get the reading bug. Please visit our Facebook page – simply visit and scroll down: http://bit.ly/2csBXVd and you will come across some suggestions for a good read.
Keep up to date with all the fostering news
Our special news section on the Rainbow Fostering web site is regularly updated. There are articles about the many different aspects of fostering. These will hopefully be of interest to all who who foster. Simply visit http://bit.ly/2e8PrIK