It is vital that local authorities can find the right carers 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 (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.
An independent review of foster care in England in 2017 highlighted that England does not have a shortage of foster carers overall but there are geographical gaps in provision, particularly for specific needs.
The department 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.
The department also recently funded 7 feasibility studies in commissioning and sufficiency planning, bringing together local authorities with their partners to explore innovative practices, including collaborative approaches to foster care recruitment. We are also exploring whether digital approaches could help us in supporting local authorities to improve matching of children to carers.
We have committed £125,000 from June to October to fund a new FosterlinePlus service, through which 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.
We supported the Fostering Network’s Foster Care Fortnight in May through social media channels. We also recently launched updated fostering pages to make information more accessible to potential carers, and they are available here: