Foster Care: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 8th July 2020.

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Photo of Lord Taylor of Warwick Lord Taylor of Warwick Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to (1) encourage people to become foster carers, and (2) support foster carers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo of Baroness Berridge Baroness Berridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for International Trade) (Minister for Women), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

It is vital that local authorities can find the right carers in the right places at the right time to meet the needs of vulnerable children. To help unlock fostering capacity during the COVID-19 outbreak, we have made amendments to the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2010) England Regulations 2010 and the Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011. These changes aim to make it easier to identify potential placements, particularly in emergency situations, and so that new foster carers can be assessed and approved without unnecessary delay.

We know that some foster families have faced unprecedented challenges as a direct result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Our priority is to protect foster families, to keep them together and continue to offer safety and stability to the vulnerable children they care for. That is why we have committed £125,000 over the next four months to fund a new FosterlinePlus service. Foster families experiencing difficulties will have free access to a range of specialist one-to-one services and new and prospective foster families will be able to access the support and information they need to offer caring homes for some of our most vulnerable children.

More widely, the department has commissioned behavioural insights research, which commenced in November 2019, to explore the barriers and motivations of prospective carers and seek recommendations for more targeted approaches in local recruitment. We will share these findings with fostering services and recruitment managers.

We continue to identify ways to celebrate the invaluable roles that foster families play in supporting our most vulnerable children, for example, by celebrating exceptional foster families through the Honours system. We supported the Fostering Network’s Foster Care Fortnight in May 2020 through social media channels. We also recently launched updated fostering pages on GOV.UK to make information more accessible to potential carers, which are available here:

https://www.gov.uk/becoming-foster-parent.

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