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State of the Nation’s Foster Care Report 2021 published

Children and young people in foster care will be faced with a crumbling and failing system unless urgent improvements are made, according to Fostering Network's State of the Nation's Foster Care Report 2021.

The report found that there is a crisis in the retention and recruitment of high-quality foster carers who can meet the needs of children in care. This is the biggest challenge facing the fostering sector today, as a lack of foster carers means that children are missing out on vital support. 

The report, which is based on the most comprehensive survey within the fostering community, finds that the need to value and recognise the foster carer role is at the heart of the crisis.

Key findings of the report include:

• All but six of the fostering services surveyed reported having a shortage of foster carers to meet the needs of the children in their local population. 

• The highest areas of need were for teenagers, large sibling groups, children with disabilities and parent and child placements.

• Key factors to improve the retention and future recruitment of foster carers are better pay, support and training, having the authority to make decisions for the child they are caring for

Over a third of foster carers said that the allowance for the child does not meet the full cost of the child's care, which means foster carers must dip into their own pocket to provide for the children.

Only half of foster carers surveyed (53 per cent) received sufficient information about a new child/young person coming into their care, making it harder to plan for, and support, their specific needs.

Only 42 per cent of foster carers said that children were able to visit their new home before moving into it, which can negatively impact how they feel about their new home, resulting in children feeling insecure and unstable in their attachments, which in turn can result in poorer outcomes in their education and mental health. 

The report makes a range of strategic and practical recommendations to governments and services at a national, regional and local level, to steer us away from a potential crisis. The recommendations centre on improving the status of foster carers to stop high levels of turnover in the foster carer workforce and deliver better outcomes for children and young people.

For the report, click here.