Morgan criticised for foster care ‘slur'

By Neil Puffett

| 15 January 2016

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has been criticised for denigrating foster care with comments she made as the government launched a bid to reverse a sharp drop in adoptions.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has said that 'every single day a child spends waiting in care is a further delay to a life full of love and stability'. Picture: Parliament TV

Announcing proposed changes to the law yesterday so that councils and courts favour adoption over other forms of care for vulnerable children, Morgan said “every single day a child spends waiting in care is a further delay to a life full of love and stability”. She added that this situation “simply isn’t good enough”.

Two leading charities – The Adolescent and Children’s Trust (Tact) and The Fostering Network, have spoken out against the comments, stating that her words imply that children in foster care do not receive love or stability.

Andy Elvin, chief executive of Tact, said: “I am at a loss to understand why the minister couldn’t just announce this without decrying other care options for vulnerable children.

“She should immediately apologise to all foster carers for this seemingly deliberate slur. Children in foster care are not ‘waiting…for a life full of love and stability’ they are living one.

"The constant implied and direct criticism of foster care by the Prime Minister and the minister is unnecessary, not supported by evidence, insulting to foster carers and counterproductive."

Around 75 per cent of children in care are in foster care, with just five per cent of children who enter care each year eventually being adopted. Elvin said that these statistics are not going to change appreciably.

“For government ministers to constantly decry foster care as some sort of substandard waiting room for adoption is unacceptable,” he added.

“Especially when you consider that local government is spending millions of pounds trying to recruit more foster carers.”

Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said the rhetoric emerging from government is that of a “hierarchy of care”.

“The government is consistently promoting the message that adoption is the gold standard of permanence despite the lack of research into adoption outcomes, and that all other permanency options are second best and inadequate,” he said.

“While adoption can be the best option for some children, for the vast majority of children in care other permanency options will better meet their needs.

“We are tired of listening to those options being denigrated by politicians who, because they have the platform to speak and work as the ultimate corporate parent for all children in care, ought to know better.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said any suggestion that the government undervalues any form of long term care is "completely unfounded".

"This government’s priority must always be to make sure all children, no matter their background, can benefit from a loving and stable home," she added.

"We have placed long term foster care on a legal footing for the first time and introduced Staying Put, backed by millions of government funding to allow young people to remain with their foster carers until the age of 21.”

blog comments powered by Disqus