Rainbow fostering solutions are never easy to achieve at the best of times. The matching process is becoming ever more complex – especially as there are an increasing number of refugees and unaccompanied asylum seekers arriving on these shores. What certainly doesn’t help is anything that is a disincentive to people thinking of fostering children. And it certainly seems to be the case that bad news tends to travel faster than good news because many people in society are intrigued by news that is negative. So it is depressing when there is adverse comment around issues that have an impact on fostering finance: for information visit https://www.gov.uk/foster-carers/help-with-the-cost-of-fostering The latest example of this is the current threat to children’s welfare caused by budget cuts being implemented in England. The consequence of this has now been picked up by the leading charity The Fostering Network: their view is that children in care are finding it harder to access social worker support due to cuts in funding. Independent fostering agencies usually deal with trying to place the most challenging young people; children who have often experienced multiple placement breakdowns – quite apart from any abuse or neglect they may have been subject to. This means that for such vulnerable children, a high level of support needs to be available to protect a placement and give it the best chance of it succeeding. So this is not really the time to be imposing the kind of cuts that impact directly on the support social workers can provide. When fostering a child there will inevitably be pressures and these can be addressed through targeted support. The problem is that the demand for such support is escalating rapidly: town hall chiefs are on the record as saying that the numbers of children benefiting from intensive support through child protection plans have risen by 60% over the last eight years. Cuts to early intervention budgets, they added, have meant councils are left with extremely difficult decisions to make.
Kevin Williams, The Fostering Network’s Chief Executive, recently stated “ We are extremely concerned that so many foster carers feel that recent cuts are having a negative impact on their fostered children’s access to the support and services that they so vitally need”; and continued
“But equally worrying is the drop in the support – both practical and financial – being offered to foster carers to enable them to provide stable and loving homes to these children.”
Kevin Williams went on to say: The Fostering Network had “fought long and hard” to make sure foster carers received an allowance that covered the costs of looking after the children they cared for and “To think that this progress is in danger of being eroded and that foster carers will be forced to subsidise the care of these children or that children will go without is truly shocking,”
To provide a snapshot, The Fostering Network has recently carried out a survey amongst foster carers. 70% of the 600 replies that were received reported that local authority cuts had negatively affected their allowances. The same proportion of the survey said they felt the cuts meant the access to the social worker was being reduced. It is inconceivable that fostering solutions must be being impacted upon.
The views of foster carers paint the picture: “We have fostered for over 25 years and cared for well over 300 young people, and the service has never been in a worse position to deliver young people with a good care service.” and “My monthly visits have been cut to once every two months, with a telephone call in between, and the timing of visits seem rushed and you can’t explain your needs in the time given. They have too many cases to look after.”
A government spokesperson is on the record as saying “We greatly value the vital contribution that foster carers make to children’s lives, and are committed to ensuring they receive the recognition and support they need.” “We are giving councils almost £200 bn to spend on local services by 2020, and we know that the vast majority are protecting frontline children’s social care budgets.”
Unfortunately, this may not feed through to address the situation on the ground. The general views of Councillor Richard Watts, vice -chairman of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board are compelling:
“More than 20,000 extra children, an increase of more than 60%, are now receiving intensive support through child protection plans than eight years ago.
“These pressures have left challenging choices elsewhere, and this report highlights some of the difficult decisions councils are forced to make every day.
“There are no easy choices as councils try to balance the immediate need to safeguard a child with the clear benefits that can come later from investment in vital support services and early intervention.”
At Rainbow Fostering we are focused on providing fostering solutions every day. But we know that without dedicated foster
carers, our task is far harder. This means keeping attention focused around The Fostering Network’s annual campaign ‘Time to Foster, Time to Care’ is so important. Well over 9,000 new foster families are still sought across the UK. If you have ever thought of becoming a foster carer, please call to find out more. If you are already fostering, perhaps you know someone who might be interested: get them to contact us and you will be making a very real difference to this national shortage. And if you are with Rainbow, perhaps recommend a friend who could be interested in fostering a child and we will pay you £500 – our way of saying thank you (T’s & C’s apply). Back to providing quality fostering solutions: we are now looking for carers in Bedfordshire http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/fostering-in-bedfordshire
And the good news at the end of this weeks Rainbow…Our fostering solutions are dependent upon us keeping on track of everything that is positive in our ‘Rainbow Community’ – and spreading the word, so I would just like to share that two of our foster carers have become the proud grandparents of another baby boy.