The Fostering Network the State of the Nation’s foster care survey (2016) – What foster carers think and feel about fostering is now available.
The Fostering Network research involved in total 2,530 foster carers from across the UK completed the survey online: 1,942 of these fostered in England, 359 in Scotland, 122 in Wales and 107 in Northern Ireland. These numbers represent four per cent, eight per cent, three per cent, and five per cent of the total foster carer populations respectively.
Aspects of the Fostering Network reports findings are:
- 32 per cent of foster carers felt that children’s social workers do not treat them as an equal member of the team around the child
- 31 per cent of foster carers reported that they were rarely or never given all of the information about a fostered child prior to placement
- 46 per cent of foster carers said their fostered children were unlikely to receive information about independent visitors
- Almost a third of foster carers had been referred children from outside their defined approval range
- 52 per cent of those who had taken children from outside their approval range had felt pressured into it
- Three-quarters of those who had taken a child from outside their approval range said they received no additional training and support from their fostering service
- Just under half of all foster carers (49 per cent) did not have an agreed training plan for the next 12 months and the same proportion of carers felt there were training courses they would have liked to attend but did not.
Ofsted (2015) published an earlier report about foster care that amongst other findings showed:
- There were fewer fostering households overall, but more family and friends households: there were 36,890 fostering households, a decrease of 1% from the same date in 2014. In the same period, the number of family and friends households increased by 6% to 4,145
- More children were recorded as missing from placements and going missing more often: there were 5,055 children recorded as missing in 2014-15, an increase of 19% from the previous year. The number of times that children were recorded as going missing increased by 29%
Whilst Ofsted (2012) highlighted the following:
- 67,340 foster carers were approved on 31 March 2012. Of these, a large majority of carers were White (84%). The next largest number was Black (8%), followed by Asian (4%), Chinese and ‘Other’ (2%) and Mixed (1%). This was very similar to the ethnicity profile of foster carers for 2010-11
- There were a total of 40,842 fostering households on 31 March 2012. This is an increase of around 7% from the previous year. Of these, 67% were registered with local authorities and 33% were registered with IFS
- Overall, there were 7,427 new fostering households approved during the year. This is an increase of 9% from the same period in 2010-11. Local authorities approved 63% (4,648) of new households and 37% (2,779) were approved by IFS. This compares with 60% of new households approved in 2010-11 by local authority and 40% by IFS
There are some similar findings in both the Fostering Network’s stateofthenationsfostercare2016 and their 2014 state of the nation’s foster care report findings. In the Fostering Network 2014 report foster carers also felt foster carers should be respected and treated as a skilled co-professional, and to be recognised as part of the team working with the child; often, in fact, they are the person who knows the child best.
The Fostering Network 2014 report showed that foster carers felt that not only should their experience and expertise be valued and listened to about day-to-day care, but also in long-term planning for children. This report also highlighted that foster carers wanted to be recognised and treated as professionals by teachers, health care workers, police and others involved in children’s lives. These working in partnership issues are consistent – The Fostering Network National conference way back in 2002 (Working Across Boundaries) raised similar issues concerning working together.