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Wellbeing of children in care threatened by cuts, The Fostering Network warns

Two-thirds of foster carers report cuts to allowances and access to support

The wellbeing of children living in foster care is under threat from Government funding cuts to local authority budgets in England, The Fostering Network warns.

The charity's concern follows a survey of foster carers.The survey, CUTS - the view from foster carers (England):  the impact of austerity measures on fostered children and the families that care for them, carried out in February 2016, shows that:

Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said:

"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. The wellbeing of thousands of fostered children is under threat.

"This is worrying enough in itself. 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.

"The Fostering Network has fought long and hard to ensure that all foster carers even receive an allowance to cover the costs of looking after the children in their care. 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.

"With a steady rise in the number of children coming into care, and the recent cuts in local authority budgets, the results of this survey are a call to action for Government to recognise both their role as corporate parents of children in care and the vital part that foster care plays in giving these children loving homes and the best chance of a successful life. We therefore urge them to fund local authorities to ensure that foster carers are fully supported to take on the task they devote their lives to doing and for which there is an increasing demand."

Charlotte Ramsden, Chair of the Association of Directors for Children's Services Health, Care and Additional Needs Policy Committee, said:

"Foster care is the heart of our care system and, when done well, can change a child's life. Over three quarters of children in local authority care are placed with foster carers. As the number of children coming into care continues to increase so too does our need for foster carers.

"This report raises concerns about austerity and how reductions to council budgets are visibly impacting on the services we provide for vulnerable children, young people and their families. This issue is worthy of further and urgent debate."

The report is here. A summary is here.