The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading fostering charity and membership organisation. Alongside supporting foster carers to transform children’s lives, they work with fostering services and the wider sector. The aim of this is to develop and share best practice, to ensure all fostered children and young people experience stable family life. They champion fostering and seek to create vital change so that foster care is the very best it can be.
To identify areas of good practice and understand where improvements are needed, The Fostering Network conduct the State of the Nation’s Foster Care survey. It runs every three years to produce a reliable insight into fostering in the UK. The 2021 survey is the fourth State of the Nation survey and, for the first time, included their fostering service members.
As the largest independent survey of foster carers, it received responses from 3,352 foster carers. At the time of the survey, foster carer respondents reported caring for approximately 5,669 children. This represents around nine per cent of all children living in foster care in the UK. The survey also received 99 fostering service responses, which represents around 19 per cent of the total fostering service providers in the UK.
The questions asked in the survey were informed by enquiries to The Fostering Network’s advice and information services, as well as policy and practice developments they wanted to explore further. The 2021 survey sought foster carers and fostering services views on how children’s needs are currently being met by the care system, and other key practice and workforce issues such as support, recruitment and capacity in the sector. A total of five reports have been published using the survey findings:
- The main report published December 2021
- Thematic report 1: The status of foster carers published February 2022
- A Spotlight on Wales published March 2022 in English and Welsh/Cymraeg
- Thematic report 2: Allegations which was co-created with Alyson Rees, Louisa Roberts and Sophie Wood of CASCADE, published April 2022
- Thematic report 3: Children’s unmet needs published June 2022.
Since the publication of their first report back in December, The Fostering Network have been busy using the findings to influence the foster care agenda. They have:
- presented the Wales specific findings at the all Wales local authority and IFP forum run by The Fostering Network
- gained national media coverage, including the Observer and Sky News, raising awareness of fostering and putting it on the national agenda
- created bespoke presentations for civil servants, politicians and regulators
- updated their allegations signpost and are developing an allegations toolkit.
If you are interested in finding out more about fostering or The Fostering Network, you can visit their website or follow them on Twitter @fosteringnet. You can also request to join their campaigners email group to be kept informed about The Fostering Network’s campaigning work and how you can get involved by emailing your full name to email@example.com.