Charity urges providers to commit to Foster Carers' Charter

By Gabriella Jozwiak

| 27 February 2019

A fostering charity is urging providers to sign up to a new charter to improve services for foster carers and the children and young people they care for.

The Fostering Network hopes a new charter will help improve services

The Fostering Network hopes its revamped charter could make "significant inroads" into improving practice issues raised by the organisation's State of the Nation's Foster Care survey, published earlier this month.

The charity's chief executive Kevin Williams said if implemented properly by every fostering service - both local authorities and independent providers - the charter would help foster carers feel better supported.

He added that this applied "especially in regards to foster carers being better supported financially and practically and more respected and valued as a key member of the team".

Among the charity's findings was that 48 per cent of foster carers surveyed are supporting a child with mental health needs, but the child is not getting specialist help.

The charter has been taken up by around 56 local authorities since it was first introduced around a decade ago, but now includes more clearly defined responsibilities distinguishing between public sector and independent providers.

Williams said he hoped as a result, there would be wider implementation of the charter and better services.

"I would urge every fostering service to work with all those involved to introduce and implement a charter in 2019," he said. "It will be an important step to making foster care the very best it can be for children and young people and the foster families caring for them."

Children's minister Nadhim Zahawi said the charter was important because it provided "a clear ambition the sector can get behind" and gave foster families "the recognition they deserve".

The document asks services, corporate parents and foster carers to work in partnership in the best interests of the children for whom they care.

"It is a promise, with rights and responsibilities for all parties, to strive for best practice at all times," the charter states.

The document was updated in consultation with the Department for Education and organisations including CoramBAAF, the Association of Directors of Children's Services and the Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers.

The Fostering Network's survey found 59 per cent of foster carers said their foster care allowance and expenses they could claim did not meet the costs of looking after their fostered child.

Researched published by Ofsted earlier this month found that despite a rise in the number children being placed, foster carer levels are insufficient to meet accelerating demand - with a five per cent decrease in vacant places in 2017/18.

Some 43,475 households were approved for fostering in 2017/18, down 460 from the previous year, according to the Fostering in England report.

The document was updated in consultation with the Department for Education and organisations including CoramBAAF, the Association of Directors of Children's Services and the Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers.

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