Foster care likely to be pressured by poverty

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Foster care likely to be pressured by poverty

It’s a topsy turvy world where good intentions abound, hopes are raised and hearts stirred. But can we be confident significant change will result. If only words could be turned into pounds: if that were so there would be no issue of funding for foster care. Many of the consequences of political ambition and hard economic facts are likely to now impact on foster care. True, there is national foster carer stocktake to look forward to: doubtless there will be many recommendations and exhortations – especially the latter, since they rarely have a price tag attached. But there are trends outside the world of foster care provision that seem set to produce inescapable effects – and not of a positive nature.

The government has made much recently of its desire to improve social mobility. Nothing unreasonable in that – eminently laudable, but sadly rather vague – the absence of hard targets pointing the way to the achievement of this lofty ideal is palpable. Unfortunately for the script, a big wheel came off recently with the resignation of Alan Milburn, who was until recently the governments social mobility adviser. What is unusual is that his departure was followed by the resignation of the entire Social Mobility Commission. This is a major embarrassment for Theresa May as she had put her personal stamp on the goal of improving social mobility. Milburn stated that in his view, there is “zero prospect” of the Government tackling social mobility. He also claimed the current preoccupation with Brexit meant the Government

“does not have the necessary bandwidth to ensure the rhetoric of healing social division is matched with the reality”.

This is probably true, but the question has to be asked; and quite reasonably, if the intent was genuine in the first place. A new prime minister usually does a lot of the ‘big picture’ stuff. It is an opportunity to personalise their agenda – as well as offering the public an insight into the nature of their new PM’s motivations. To work, there must be no hostages to fortune – and this is usually effective if detail is avoided. The difference here, is the involvement of a ‘big hitter’ from the Blairite tendency who was never going to sit on his hands and suffer “bandwidth problems”. So there appears to have been a certain naivety in having Milburn at the helm in the first place. Why does this matter? It’s because it is all too clear to see what the hinders social mobility more than anything and, simply put, that is the link between poverty and deprivation to potential social advancement. There are always the ‘rags to riches stories’ so beloved in certain quarters of the media, but they fade in relevance upon an examination of the effects of key trends. And these do not look like being reversed any time soon.

Many foster carers have to care for children from deprived backgrounds

Past research pointed toward the fact that by 2020, Nearly one in four children were likely to be ‘living in poverty. This was followed by revised estimates from the Institute for Fiscal Studies highlighting that relative child poverty in the UK could be set to increase by six percentage points between 2010/11 and 2020/21, from 17.5 per cent to 23.5 per cent. we now have available some recent statistics and the forecasts do not make for happy reading: ‘End Child Poverty’ state that The Households Below Average Income figures for 2015/6 released in March 2017 show that child poverty now stands at the highest level since 2009/10, with 4 million children in the UK now living in relative poverty. The figures also reveal that ‘in-work poverty’ continues to rise and stood; the same data revealed in March, at 67 percent.

Such a trend of rising child poverty has to be of serious concern. This is especially in the context of rising inflation: costs of living are now expected to rise by roughly 4% in the coming year. ‘End Child Poverty’ has produced a report – ‘Feeling the pinch’ – which found that overall prices are expected to rise by around 35% between 2010 and 2020, by contrast Child Benefit, a key form of support for families with children, is expected to rise by only 2% over the same period. This means that an out-of-work single parent family will be £2800 a year worse off by 2020.

Foster care could feel the impact

It is to be hoped that the organisers and prime movers and shakers of the national fostering stocktake will have these facts in mind. Poverty places great pressure on families – neglect can all too easily be the result meaning more vulnerable children needing to be taken into care. And other figures that are available show, that when this happens their chances at succeeding educationally; if not that good before, are not likely to improve substantially. Most worrying of all – which the government must be aware of by now – are the increasing difficulties of attracting people into foster care in the first place. This is compounded by the fact many children and teenagers are arriving in care, having suffered various forms of trauma making them extremely challenging to care for. This results in rising rates of placement breakdowns which can lead to spiralling social costs later on. All this seems difficult to square with a goal of improving social mobility. If that intention is real, the foster care stocktake can only recommend that something beyond even ‘root and branch’ reform, is going to be urgently needed.

The figures for regional poverty rates (as defined by percentage of children living below 60% median income, after housing costs) are as follows: England – 29%, North East – 28%, North West – 30%, Yorkshire and Humberside – 29%. East Midlands – 29%, West Midlands – 33%, East of England – 25%, London – 37%, Inner – 42%, Outer 34%, South east – 25%, South West – 26%, Wales – 30%, Scotland – 23% and Northern Ireland – 26%.

Foster support for education to drive social mobility

There is another salient fact directly linked to social mobility that the prime minister simply cannot ignore. All who work in education  understand that helping children in care to succeed can seem like a byzantine task. Despite initiatives and policy changes over the years, it is still the case that a mere 6% of young people with experience of the care system will attend university. To be credible when talking about dramatically improving social mobility, this statistic has to be addressed: it would be an achievement just to get it into double figures. 

Therapeutic foster care work with Rainbow Fostering

The world off fostering is changing: the referrals we receive; and this is the case across the country, are for youngsters beset by emotional issues. Many are coming into care traumatised – consequently they need special provision. This is why Rainbow are seeking to expand its pool of therapeutic foster carers. Being a therapeutic carer means you will receive specialist training to support such young people. Because their problems can be deep rooted, helping them turn their lives around can be incredibly rewarding. And never forget you are not alone. Being a therapeutic foster carer means being a key part of a dedicated team. Support is always on have 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Rainbow can help you to find out a lot more about therapeutic foster care training – what is involved – such as  training online, therapeutic foster care uk or training for therapeutic foster care. Just call 020 8427 3355, or our National line 0330 311 2845.

If you want to move things forward, we can visit you in your home and give you a much more detailed insight into therapeutic foster care. At Rainbow, we will ensure you are confident of making the right decision for you and your family. We have found that many, but by no means all, applicants we have for therapeutic foster carer training already have professional experience of working with children and young people.

Rainbow news –

Foster care services across the UK likely to be affected by National Transfer Scheme. 

2nd, February 2018

The turmoil in  certain parts of the world has led to a significant increase in the number of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) arriving on these shores. The number of UASC arriving in the country by various (more)

Good news at the end of our Rainbow…more birthdays to celebrate already in February – many Happy returns to our foster children and foster carers.

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