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Key issues in fostering: capacity, working conditions, and fostering agencies

Published Monday, July 31, 2017

This House of Commons Library briefing paper looks at key issues in fostering, including general statistical information, the capacity of the foster care system, working conditions for foster carers and the relationships between fostering providers. In particular, it draws upon evidence taken by the Education Select Committee’s 2016-17 inquiry into fostering.

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In terms of the capacity of the foster care system, in 2015-16 some 51,000 of the 70,440 “looked after children” were in local authority foster placements. Issues examined in this paper include the impact of “Staying Put” arrangements for those over 18 years old, increasing numbers of unaccompanied asylum seeking children, and also foster carers who become special guardians.

The working conditions of foster carers are explored, including their employment status, pay, the impact when allegations are made against a foster carer, and calls for professionalisation of foster carers.

Fostering agencies can either be local authority-run or independent, and there has been competition between agencies to attract foster carers. Some have raised concerns that independent foster agencies can be profit-making, and how such agencies are commissioned by local authorities.  The introduction of new trust models for fostering services is also explored.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7998

Author: Simon Armitage

Topics: Children and families, Children's social services

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