Charity celebrates campaign success on handling of allegations against foster carers
Leading charity the Fostering Network is today welcoming the Government’s announcement that there will be a change in the way allegations against foster carers are handled in England.
Two amendments relating to allegations were debated by MPs during the committee stage of the Children and Young Person’s Bill yesterday (Thursday 3 July), and resulted in a commitment from the Government to revise the National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services. The revised standards will make clear that fostering service providers which usually pay their foster carers a fee should continue to do so at the same level while an allegation is being investigated and until it has been resolved.
In addition, the National Minimum Standards will outline expectations around the timescales for resolving allegations, and highlight the need for foster carers who are subject to an allegation to receive appropriate independent support.
Until now, unlike teachers, social workers or residential workers, many foster carers would lose their income if prevented from fostering until the conclusion of an allegation – a survey by the Fostering Network in 2006 found that virtually all foster carers had their income cut, and almost half had their income stopped while allegations are being investigated. Fostering for many people is a full-time occupation, and the payments they receive from fostering can be their only source of income, adding to the hardship felt during the allegations process. Half of all allegations cases last longer than three months and one in 10 lasts longer than a year, in some instances taking several years.
The Fostering Network's chief executive Robert Tapsfield said: "We are delighted that the Government has recognised the need to improve the way foster carers who have an allegation made against them will be treated in future.
"The announcement that National Minimum Standards will be revised to ensure foster carers continue to receive fees and that timescales are tightened up is enormously welcome. This is a very important step in the right direction, and we are looking forward to working with the Government on implementation, and will be monitoring the difference this makes to foster carers.
"In the meantime, we will be encouraging fostering services to take note, and, where this good practice is not already being followed, to take steps to implement it immediately. There is no excuse for delaying until the standards are revised; the Government’s intentions are clear, and foster families deserve these changes to be made without delay."
The National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services are currently being revised, and are due to be re-launched in 2009.
Notes to editors
- Around 37,000 foster families look after more than 42,000 fostered children on any one day in England.
- The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading charity for all those involved in fostering, and exists to ensure the highest standards of care for fostered children.
- For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 7620 6437/41