Detailed statistics from the government covering the period 1st April 2016 to 31st March 2017, relating to the provision of foster care are available for scrutiny. They provide a fascinating insight into the trends and changing patterns in the fostering sector. It is one thing to record statistical information, but quite another to formulate policies to address the issues revealed.
When placements breakdown, the effects on foster carers and foster children can be deeply troubling. Unplanned endings can be distressing and confusing. The government statistics indicate that one in five children who experienced an unplanned ending were moved within twenty four hours of the decision being made. This kind of abrupt experience would disconcert adults, so every attempt should be made to ensure better management of the process. It should not; except under the most exceptional of circumstances, be possible to remove a child or young person within such a short time scale. That this is a problem that needs to be addressed urgently is evidenced by one simple fact: children who have experienced an unplanned placement ending; in the report’s own words – “were more than twice as likely to have persistent absence from education, as were children who had an educational placement change.” It is incontrovertible that placement instability has the most damaging impact on children and young people’s education. The statistics are unplanned endings affected 2,375 children, with twenty two percent – or 525 – of them being subject to at least one move within twenty four hours of the decision having been made. This government report “Fostering in England” alludes to the issue of placement endings being linked to page eight of the foster care stocktake. On this page, are the concluding remarks of the children’s commissioner –
“I’m pleased too that this report has looked at how children and carers are matched together, something that children have very clear views and ideas about. Of course, not every placement will always work out, despite the best intentions, and who children do move placement I would like them to be consulted about the adults and children who are important to them.”
The commissioner continues – “in the end, more than anything, foster children want to feel they are part of a family. A family life built on strong, valued relationships provides them with a sense of belonging and stability, and most say it is by far the best thing about being in care. This review is an important part of the drive to make that reality for many more foster children.”
Isn’t all this obvious? It is hardly surprising the reaction of The Fostering Network to the foster care stocktake was that it represented “a missed opportunity.” It would have been useful for the commissioner to have defined accurately in detail what this “drive” is, and when this “reality” might be achieved. Not doing this, has left the foster care stocktake looking like a PR exercise. It should have been much harder hitting. There is a shortage of foster carers and unplanned placement endings can be upsetting for them. This does not bode well for the recruitment and retention of foster carers – probably compromising further the stability hoped for by the children’s commissioner. It is unacceptable to wield platitudes. Such a relaxed attitude cannot now sit comfortably with children being “more than twice as likely to have persistent absence from education” due to unplanned placement endings. And this feeds into a mere 6% of children in care going on to university – compared to almost 50% of the general population. As Ruth Kelly, one time Secretary of State for Education, wrote, “it is a fact that for many of the 72,000 children in care in England, their life chances are significantly worse than for young people as a whole.”
Rainbow Foster Care: ready for more information – or possibly taking the next step?
Please remember there is no ‘perfect applicant’. Our Rainbow foster carers come from many different backgrounds with their own unique life experiences. You do need to have energy! And if you are patient, healthy with a ‘can do’ attitude, then we’d be pleased to consider you. Visit our web page which has advice on healthy living and staying fit https://bit.ly/2wzE70T
It is essential that you have a caring nature combined with a real desire to bring out the potential in children who have, sadly, not had the opportunities most of us have. Until now – perhaps with your help! So, it’s easy – just give us a call, and we’ll be happy to chat for as long as you want about fostering. It’s our passion and we want it to be yours too. That’s why we treat our foster carers as true professionals and partners in enabling children to be the best they can be!
To aid you – here are a few brief points:
As long as you are over 21 you can foster with Rainbow; you need a spare room for a child; you can foster if you have your own children – as well as if you don’t; you can be a tenant and foster; you do not need any formal qualifications – but you must be willing to commit to our training programmes; your religion, cultural background, gender, sexual orientation or race are not a bar to you fostering. We are also looking for people interested in training to be therapeutic foster carers. This is a specialist type of fostering – we have plenty of information on our website at
Finally, what makes being a foster carer with Rainbow different?
In a word – experience! We have over twenty years experience so we know the quality and close support our foster carers need. We are also skilled in matching placements from the very high number of referrals we receive. This gives our foster carers choice: if you are with the wrong kind of fostering service it could result in not having the right referrals or amount of work.
You are never alone. Day or night you’ll never be alone – all year round.
Rainbow Fostering Services are looking for prospective foster carers in London, Manchester and Birmingham. Give us a call on 020 8427 3355. Rainbow are a highly regarded agency and sometimes lines are busy so you can also contact us on 0330 311 2845 – our National Line. And if you want to check up on all the foster care news go to our webpage https://bit.ly/2kJHpsO
Photocredit: Upsplash – Oliwier Gesla
All blogs written by Will Saunders: Rainbow Fostering – Content Management/Marketing