Foster Care in England

Thank you for contacting me about the national fostering stocktake report, “Foster Care in England”.

Fostering provides stability, a safe and loving home and an alternative family environment for look-after children. One of the essential messages from the report is that foster care is working for many vulnerable children and young people, and I think that needs to be celebrated. The Government is considering the recommendations set out in the review. I am informed it will publish a formal response later in the year.

Foster parents play a vital role in supporting some of our most vulnerable children. They are uniquely placed to recognise the child’s needs and to respond to them appropriately. All foster parents should receive the support and respect they need to carry out such an important role. I agree foster parents should be treated professionally: the report is clear that foster parents are the experts in the children they look after and should be recognised as such.

Government policy is very clear that no foster parent should be out of pocket because they are looking after a child. The Government set the national minimum allowance, and all foster parents should receive at least that sum, but the Government accepts a better understanding of the national picture on remuneration is needed and says it will consider financial support alongside the wider package of support to ensure that foster parents can continue to fulfil their valuable role.

A survey carried out alongside the review shows that the whole system also needs to be better at listening and responding to the views of children and young people in its care. Not everyone will agree with the conclusions of the independent review. However, I think it provides us with an important opportunity to improve the foster care system and better support looked-after children and foster parents.