The needs of many children in foster care are not being properly looked after, a leading fostering charity has warned.
In their State of the Nation’s Foster Care 2021 survey, the charity The Fostering Network found that the health, educational and cultural needs of many foster children are not being met.
The poll of more than 3,350 foster carers and 99 fostering services, revealed that a quarter of foster carers were looking after at least one child who they felt needed mental health support but was not getting it.
Just over a half (54%) of the respondents were looking after at least one child who receives additional support to assist their learning. Of these foster carers, a quarter felt that the additional support was not sufficient.?
Around 13% of foster carers reported having looked after a child with suspected Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Nine per cent reported having looked after a child with a diagnosis of FASD, however, only a third of these children received follow-up support post-diagnosis.
Over half (55%) of foster carers had not received any support or advice around supporting a child’s cultural and/or religious needs.?
The Fostering Network warned that the state is failing to meet its legal responsibility as a parent to these children.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of the Fostering Network, commented: ‘We are calling on all governments across the UK to ensure that children in care are able to access all the services they are entitled to, and so desperately need; and that children in care are listened to by all agencies working with them.
‘Governments need to invest in awareness raising, training and therapeutic approaches. This is so practitioners across all public sector organisations that support children have the understanding and skills they need to best support children with care experience.
‘Furthermore, we want to see a learning and development framework for foster carers introduced, such as that already in place in Wales, so foster carers can access the learning and development they feel they need to ensure the children in their care can thrive.’