Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have heard how fostering households across the UK quickly adapted to support children in these unprecedented times. Many foster carers assumed additional responsibilities and roles overnight: supporting children with home learning, supervising virtual contact with birth families in their own home, facilitating virtual social worker visits as well as all their usual fostering duties and responsibilities.
Lockdown has had a significant impact on fostering households. While some foster carers have reported an increase in challenging behaviour and concerns about the wellbeing of children, some fostering families have seen benefits of children being in one place for a sustained period of time and they have seen children feeling settled and calm.
To understand more about fostered children’s experiences of education during the pandemic we launched a rapid response survey for foster carers and fostering services across the UK.
The survey received 487 foster carer responses representing 870 fostered children and young people from across the UK. We received 48 responses from fostering service members of staff. In addition, we were able to gather the thoughts and feelings of a small group of children and young people about their experiences of education and thoughts about returning to school.
The evidence shows that the vast majority of children in foster care have been not attending educational settings and have received very different offers and experiences of education throughout the coronavirus pandemic. While some have thrived from more one to one support and the removal of some external pressures, others have experienced increased anxiety and other mental health problems and have been excluded before being given the chance to attend educational provisions. The experience of educating during lockdown has also brought to the fore the need for more individualised education plans for looked after children.
The survey results have helped provide an understanding about both the educational experience of fostered children during lockdown and their needs as they transition back to school. To find out more about this survey and the key findings please see the full report.