Fostering provision is a game of catch-up. It could hardly be otherwise when there is a shortage of over 8,000 fostering families. Providers up and down the country are engaged, as never before, in a determined quest to recruit new foster carers. This effort has continued through the pandemic and is reaching an unprecedented – surely the word of 2020 – level of intensity. The assessment process has been adapted to enable fostering applicants to be screened online. Usefully, the government has amended – albeit on a temporary basis – some of the assessment processes required to become a foster carer. To some extent, this is the lull before the storm. That certainly appears to be the view of the Children’s Commissioner, Anne Longfield. She is warning that the school closures are likely to have a “devastating long-term impact on children.” it’s also being reported widely that the nation’s social workers are bracing themselves for a surge in child protection referrals in September. The situation is analogous to a tsunami where the ocean eerily recedes exposing hitherto unseen shore suddenly to be overwhelmed by a wall of water. At the start of April, child protection referrals dropped by over fifty per cent in parts of England. This was because huge numbers of young people were no longer coming into contact with teaching staff. It is they who are likely to raise concerns about child welfare. There are already a great many children not known to child protection services who are likely to have been placed at increased risk by the pandemic. Fostering service providers will be concerned that households that were already on the edge, will have succumbed to peripheral effects of a virus that has placed families in confinement for three months. The statistics are sobering: in England, over 1.5 million children are living in families where one parent or carer has a severe mental health issue. 830,000 children are in homes where domestic abuse has occurred in the last year. This figure is widely thought to be increasing because of lockdown. As the Children’s Commissioner warns:
“We know a lot of vulnerable children aren’t known to the authorities and many will become more vulnerable during lockdown because of issues like domestic abuse in the home. They may have been getting by before coronavirus hit, and school would be a really important part of that, but not being in school intensifies the risk. All the local authorities say they’re expecting and planning for a surge in referrals once schools go back. But of course, that means there will be children now who need that help, which is why during this period and as children start to return to school, it’s really important that the schools and local authorities have the bandwidth and resources behind them to try and identify where those vulnerable children are.”
This is another aspect of a pandemic whose effects have fallen disproportionately on vulnerable groups. And children will always be amongst the most vulnerable. Apart from the obvious health risks posed by this virus, there are many other insidious consequences society has had to face. The existing disadvantage has been reinforced. Many children have simply not had access to a device or the internet to participate in online lessons. Fostering service providers will have worked hard to ensure their children will nor have been disadvantaged in this way. But, it still was estimated in April that roughly 700,000 children did not have a laptop or tablet in their homes. This will have had a disastrous impact on their schooling. This will not have been the experience of children in the independent school’s sector. An educational chasm is opening up between the advantaged and the disadvantaged which many think will have repercussions for years to come. The Children’s Commissioner has recently voiced her concerns on this divide:
“I’m very worried about the children already educationally disadvantaged for whom this will have been a period where they’ve fallen even further behind and potentially may never catch up if they aren’t given the support they need. we know that over the summer there’s an established understanding of learning loss for that six weeks, but for six months that’s something that really starts to have a huge impact on the prospects of the child. we know poorer kids are about eighteen months behind anyway, and that divide is likely to be exacerbated hugely because of this.”
There’s never been a better time to opt for a career in fostering.
Understandably many people have concerns about their health and wellbeing as a result of the pandemic. It’s making people reappraise their attitudes to work and lifestyles as never before. Anyone becoming a foster carer has the opportunity to stay at home and earn. It’s a career that offers the chance to earn a good income and train to qualify for enhanced rates of pay. If the idea of looking after a child, young person or parent and child appeals then contact us on 0330 311 2845. If you are an existing foster carer, you can also talk to us about how easy we make it to transfer to Rainbow. Under the terms of the Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol, any foster carer is allowed to change agency. And any child or young person they have in placement with them can also transfer with them.
Fostering a teenager; fostering a UASC; fostering a parent and child; fostering a child with complex needs; fostering therapeutically or fostering a sibling group. We have openings to train to foster children and young people falling into these categories.
New fostering opportunities in Rainbow Fostering London; Rainbow Fostering Birmingham; Rainbow Fostering Manchester and Rainbow Fostering Hampshire – contact us to start your fostering career today. It’s very easy – just use our National Line 0330 311 2845
The rules and guidance in relation to the coronavirus pandemic are changing – especially now the lockdown is slowly being eased. To make sure you and your family remain safe please visit – https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/coronavirus Also, people considering fostering always have a great many questions: we recommend visiting our FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) page – http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/frequent-asked-questions/ And for an interesting blog we are recommending – http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/foster-more-support-for-those-ageing-out-of-care/