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THE FOSTERING STORY – FAILURE OR SUCCESS

Whilst recommending some changes, a recent Independent Review has described the Fostering Service as a ‘success story’. This may or may not come as a surprise to many care lawyers and other professionals who are involved in fostering services!

Most  Foster Carers are extremely conscientious individuals, who approach their tasks skillfully and in a manner most serviceable to achieving success. However, it is important not to be too congratulatory or indeed complacent about all of this. It should not be forgotten that the system is often slow to identify, yet alone place children with family and friends, which may be a less disruptive process for them. Assessments of family and friends are often unduly harsh or unrealistic in their expectations. Also perhaps the fact that children and care leavers feel that their voices ‘too often go unheard’ is a sad indictment of the system’s failure rather than success. This view is compounded by the wide and often inexplicable inconsistencies with regards to remuneration. Despite this – possibly because of it – shortages of carers ‘are down to geography’.

However under any analysis it must be accepted that the care system’s reputation for failing children educationally, is perhaps not deserved, as ‘the proportion of children with special educational needs is four times higher in the care population than in the general population.’ The  Review recommends that there should be a ‘national register of foster carers’ so that matching can be informed by up to date information about carers’ experience, skills and availability. Surely the fact that such a register does not already exist is a D minus failure!

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