Foster Carers Must Be At The Heart Of Government Reforms

{mosimage}Foster carers must be at the heart of Government reforms to improve educational outcomes for looked-after children, leading charity the Fostering Network warned at a recent conference in London. Speaking at the organisation’s aspiration and ambition conference, chief executive Robert Tapsfield told delegates that foster carers must be given more training and support to develop the skills to help children in care fulfil their potential.

Tapsfield said: “We know from research evidence and from young people themselves that the biggest single factor that makes a difference to their educational outcomes is the person looking after them: their foster carer.

“Transforming outcomes for looked-after children requires a transformation in the way foster carers are regarded. They can no longer be seen as simply caring for a child while the main responsibilities for their education or therapeutic needs lie elsewhere. Foster carers need to be regarded as the key adult for a fostered child, the adult who has primary responsibility for helping that child achieve their potential.

“The Government is currently looking at ways of improving outcomes for looked-after children. At the heart of these reforms must be a set of measures designed to increase the authority, expectations and skills of foster carers.

“These must include the national registration of foster carers, increased training, a clear mandate to represent children’s needs, sufficient resources to make decisions regarding supplementary activities for looked-after children, and the right to funding for young people who remain in placement after 18.”

The educational achievements of looked-after children fall well behind those of their peers. In England, only 11 per cent of looked-after children achieved five GCSEs at grades A* to C in 2005, compared with 56 per cent of all children. Less than 5 per cent of care leavers go on to university

The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading charity for all those involved in fostering, and exists to ensure that all fostered children receive the highest standards of care.