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

Published Friday, June 16, 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. It draws upon evidence taken by the Education Select Committee’s inquiry into fostering.

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As of 31 March 2016, there were 70,440 “looked after children” in England, equating to 60 children per 10,000 of the population.  This was an increase of 1% on 2015, and of 5% compared to 2012. The vast majority of looked after children – 74% – live in foster care placements. This is compared to 12% who live in residential care settings, and 4% who were placed for adoption. The percentage of children in foster care has remained stable since 2013.

Of the more than 51,000 children in foster care, 61% were placed within their council boundary, and 1 in 6 was being fostered by a relative or friend. Two-thirds were in placements run by local authorities, while 10% were disabled – a greater percentage than in any previous year of data collection – and 22% belonged to minority ethnic groups, including mixed parentage.

In a policy paper published in July 2016, Putting children first, the Department for Education (DfE) announced that it would be undertaking a national “stocktake” of foster care. This followed calls by many in the sector for a review of fostering in England, following Government work on adoption and residential care in recent years. In their response to Sir Martin Narey’s review of the residential care sector, the Government outlined the aims and structure of the stocktake. The consultation was launched with a call for evidence in April 2017.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7998

Author: Simon Armitage

Topics: Children and families, Children's social services

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