The Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers (NAFP) and Independent Children’s Homes Association (ICHA) say too many looked-after children are being placed in the wrong care setting because local authorities are reluctant to use care homes or independent foster agencies.
The NAFP and ICHA have spoken out in the belief that the current care system does not always work in the best interests of children and young people taken into care. They say councils’ preference for placing children with foster carers they have recruited and support is resulting in increased placement breakdown.
A joint statement published on the organisations' websites says that some local authorities have a “poor understanding” of how to assess children’s needs and the costs of care packages. It goes on to accuse some of having an “unevidenced bias against some services and placement options”.
Earlier this month, a Fostering Network survey of foster carers found that 28 per cent have felt under pressure to take children they were ill-equipped to look after; 39 per cent had temporarily looked after children because fostering services could not find a long-term home, and 12 per cent had been pressured to take on more children when they didn’t think they had the capacity to do so.
The survey also showed that nearly two thirds of foster carers had looked after children who had already had two or more homes.
The joint statement says that some children who need residential care are not receiving it because of authorities’ reluctance to use it.
“The country generally uses our residential resources as a last resort with a series of broken fostering placements eventually leading to admission to a children’s home late in teenage years,” it adds.