Social Care Services Are Failing As Corporate Grandparents

Young parents in the English social care system are being let down by health and social care services, with the majority fearing their child will be taken away from them, a report released by the Fostering Network has revealed.

The report, being launched at a conference in London, is based on an 18-month study of care-experienced parents across seven local authorities. It found that their greatest fear was having their child removed. Some had actually had their babies taken away at or near birth, although nearly all who had challenged removal decisions in court were successful in being reunited with their children.

Two-thirds of the 35 young parents involved in the study said they had not received adequate sex education, while some felt that social workers, foster carers and other professionals had tried to heavily influence their decision about whether or not to continue with an unplanned pregnancy. Most young people involved in the study did not feel supported by social services or health services.

Ena Fry, of the Fostering Network, said: “Fostering services must get their head around the fact that they need to be good corporate grandparents. Children of people who have been in care are 66 times more likely to be looked after themselves. We need to break this cycle by giving young mothers and fathers in care the opportunity to learn how to be a good parent, not by taking away their babies.

“We need to learn from those services already drawing on the unique perspective of young people in or formerly in care. These young people, involved in initiatives such as peer mentoring, advocacy services and informing foster carers and care professionals of good practice, are invaluable in improving the care system for young parents and their children.”

The Fostering Network’s Young Parents project works closely with young parents in care and their foster carers to enable them to enjoy being, and succeed as, parents. The project is led by care-experienced young people and funded by the Department for Education and Skills’ Parenting Fund. The interim report of the project is being launched at In your face!, a one-day conference exploring the experiences of young parents, taking place in London on Monday, May 22.

The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading charity for all those involved in fostering, and exists to ensure that all fostered children and young people receive the highest standards of care. The organisation has offices in Cardiff, Glasgow, Belfast and London.

The Parenting Fund Report is now available from the Fostering Network’s website