2024 Independent Foster Carers Survey Report

Independent Foster Carers Survey Report 2024

Foreword

Our 2024 Independent Foster Carer's Survey represents a ground-breaking milestone in the field of fostering. This survey, with its unprecedented insights from the frontline, stands as a beacon of independence, free from government or corporate influence.

The response speaks volumes, with nearly 2,500 respondents and over 14,500 written comments, making it the sector's largest independent foster carers survey.

A recurring theme throughout was a desperate cry for help from the frontline, not only for the foster carers themselves but for the children they care for, underscoring the remarkable resilience of foster carers in the face of immense adverse challenges.

While I wish there was more to celebrate, it is crucial we confront the harsh realities impacting foster care. Without addressing these issues, the decline in foster carers will persist, and the negative outcomes for foster children will continue.

When we surveyed the significant number of foster carers considering resignation, the results were striking. The majority cited feeling unvalued, experiencing burnout and exhaustion, and facing mental health challenges.

They also reported a lack of breaks, insufficient support, especially during weekends and holidays, and inadequate financial compensation. Additional concerns included the impact on their own families, fear of allegations, bullying, and the grief and loss when a child moves on.

A substantial 78% of carers reported that their mental health had been impacted negatively due to their fostering role, with many suffering in silence for fear of repercussions. Most written comments highlighted systemic issues rather than problems with the children themselves.

The fear of allegations significantly impacts foster carers' mental health and their ability to perform their duties. Over 80% of carers indicated that this fear affects their role, and an alarming 85% believe allegations are not handled fairly, justly, or in a balanced way.

Despite long-standing concerns raised by many, these issues have often been dismissed due to a lack of 'evidence,' with the severity of allegations remaining hidden.

Additionally, many fostering services do not consistently comply with statutory regulations or standards and the majority of foster carers feel that their frontline experiences do not match their provider's Ofsted or Care Inspectorate ratings, yet their voices remain unheard. How can foster carers work effectively for their children in such a culture?

For the children and young people in their care, the situation is dire. Many are not prioritised during transitions between fostering families or onto adoption, losing contact with those they consider family and often never have the chance to reconnect.

Comments from carers revealed heart breaking daily realities: most children's mental health needs are unaddressed, nearly three-quarters have had more than one social worker in the past year, and experience gaps. Their care plans are frequently outdated, not followed, or ineffective, and many carers lack strong working relationships with the children's social workers.

For many years, the lack of meaningful education and qualifications for foster carers has been highlighted but remains unaddressed. Evidence shows that over half of the carers find their training inadequate for their role, and more than 80% feel unprepared by the pre-approval education. This inadequacy contributes to the high turnover of carers and the frequent breakdown of placements, causing yet more instability for children.

Finally, we asked, "Would you recommend fostering to a friend, family member, or colleague?" Typically, foster carers are the most effective recruiters of new foster carers. Unfortunately, over 75% responded that they would not recommend it. Given the contents of the full report, this outcome is unsurprising. However, there are some positives: over one-third of these respondents indicated they would consider recommending fostering if their fostering services committed to the necessary workforce changes.

We now have empirical evidence supporting our long-standing concerns, which have often been dismissed as complaints from a few unhappy carers. The same handpicked foster carers are repeatedly presented to the government, perpetuating a misleadingly positive narrative.

The big question is: how long will this be allowed to continue? I am deeply passionate about fostering, the children, and their families, as are my fostering colleagues. It is evident that ignoring these issues for so long necessitates an honest assessment and a commitment to reform, by embracing the frontline experiences and truths, we can pave the way for a better future for our children. They surely deserve nothing less.

I urge all industry stakeholders to join us in collective reform, but above all I call for a commitment to truly put our children first, beyond mere rhetoric. Let us set aside agendas, profits, and politics and place the children back at the heart of the system.

Executive Summary

The care system in the UK serves as a critical safety net for children facing diverse challenges, including family upheaval due to illness, bereavement, abuse, neglect, seeking asylum, or complex health and care needs.

Among the approximately 97,000 children receiving care away from their homes and families, foster families play an indispensable role, constituting about three-quarters of these placements.

Foster care not only offers children the opportunity to thrive within a familial setting but also provides them with a nurturing and consistent environment that often shapes their adulthood.

Consequently, initiatives aimed at improving outcomes for children in care necessitate a concentrated effort to enhance the quality of foster care provisions.

The overwhelming response to our survey underscores its significance, with participation spanning across regions, including England (81.46%), Wales (8.29%), Scotland (8.45%), and Northern Ireland (1.8%).

With 2449 completed responses and an unprecedented 14,550 individual written comments, our survey provided a comprehensive understanding of the challenges currently faced by foster carers.

Foster care, characterised by its diversity, aims to provide children with a nurturing, skilled family environment conducive to stability and positive outcomes. Our survey

approached this narrative from an independent perspective, acknowledging the multifaceted nature of foster care experiences.

Unlike traditional surveys driven by organisational agendas, our survey delved into neglected aspects of foster care, including foster carers’ mental health, workplace dynamics, and the impact on their families.

Foster carers, often excluded from discussions on practice improvements were given a platform to voice concerns regarding team dynamics, inspection ratings, complaint procedures, and mental health support.

By shedding light on these overlooked dimensions, our survey aimed to evidence the underlying issues contributing to the current retention and recruitment crisis within the fostering sector.

The Independent Foster Carer’s Survey stands as a pivotal contribution to fostering research and practice, offering unparalleled insights into the realities faced by foster carers. With a wealth of frontline perspectives, our survey seeks to shape a future where every child in care thrives within a supportive, skilled and nurturing environment. 

Survey Results

Q1. Please select the country you foster in.

2024 Survey Report Q1
2024 Survey Report Q1

Q2. Do you foster for an Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) or Local Authority (LA)?

2024 Survey Report Q2
2024 Foster Carer Survey results Q20

Q3. From your evidence of front-line practice does your fostering service or agency comply with National Minimum Standards and fostering regulations.

To obtain a complete list of 376 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Survey Report Q 3
2024 Survey Report Q3

Q4. As a foster carer do you think that your fostering service’s Ofsted/Care Inspectorate rating reflects your experiences on the front line?

To obtain a complete list of 387 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Survey Results Q4
2024 Survey Results Q4

Q5. In the past year have you raised a concern or complaint about any behaviour, decisions or written material produced by a social worker or other professional working with you in your fostering role?

To obtain a complete list of 596 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Survey Results Q5
2024 Survey Results Q5

Q6. In the past year have you wanted to raise a concern but felt unable to do so?

To obtain a complete list of 407 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Survey results Q6
2024 Survey results Q6

Q7. In the past year have you been overlooked or deliberately excluded from inputting your knowledge of your foster child’s needs into any planning or review meeting held by other members of the team around the child?

To obtain a complete list of 482 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Survey report Q7
2024 Survey report Q7

Q8. As a foster carer do you feel confident to advocate and speak on behalf of your children effectively?

To obtain a complete list of 466 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Survey results Q8

Q9. Are you given all available information about your child at the start of the placement?

To obtain a complete list of 580 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Survey report Q9
2024 Survey report Q9

Q10. In the past year have your children had more than one social worker or a period without any social worker allocated?

To obtain a complete list of 437 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 survey results Q10
2024 survey results Q10

Q11. Do your foster children need mental health services which you/they have been told are not available (counselling, psychologist, psychiatrist, family therapist) – answer yes if they are on a waiting list or they have had some provision but it ended too soon or was inadequate.

To obtain a complete list of 466 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 survey report Q11
2024 survey report Q11

Q12. Have you ever been expected to put the needs of a foster child above/before the needs of a birth child?

To obtain a complete list of 540 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Survey Question 12
2024 Survey Question 12

Q13. Do you have an effective working relationship with your children/s social worker?

To obtain a complete list of 550 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Survey report Q13
2024 Survey report Q13

Q14. Are the children’s care plans sufficiently up-to-date, followed and effective?

To obtain a complete list of 274 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Foster Carer Survey Results Question 14
2024 Foster Carer Survey Results Question 14

Q15. Are you respected and treated as a professional in the team around the child?

To obtain a complete list of 501 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited. 

2024 Foster Carer Survey Results Q 15

Q16. Is the training available to you from your fostering service/agency high enough quality and relevant to make you more effective in your role as a foster carer?

To obtain a complete list of 468 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Foster Carers survey Results Q16
2024 Foster Carers survey Results Q16

Q17. How well did the training and access to information you were given before you were approved prepare you for the fostering role?

To obtain a complete list of 404 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Foster Carers survey results Q17

Q18. Have you had more than one supervising social worker in the last 2 years, or have any gaps?

To obtain a complete list of 494 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Foster Carer Survey Q18
2024 Foster Carer Survey Q18

Q19. Do you receive 6 weekly supervision sessions as per the fostering regulations?

To obtain a complete list of 315 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Foster Carers Survey Results Q19
2024 Foster Carers Survey Results Q19

Q20. Do you receive a copy of your supervision notes to sign off and retain a copy before your next supervision session, paper or online?

To obtain a complete list of 327 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Foster Carer Survey results Q20
2024 Foster Carer Survey results Q20

Q21. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is not at all easy, it does not feel safe and 10 is very easy and comfortable, how easy is it for you to openly discuss your experiences and your feelings about the challenges of the fostering role in your supervision discussions.

To obtain a complete list of 451 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Foster Carers Survey Q21

Q22. Do you have paid respite/breaks as part of your fostering agreement with your provider?

To obtain a complete list of 665 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Foster Carers Survey Q22

Q23. Are you able to ask for a break from your fostering role when you need it whether you have children placed with you or not?

To obtain a complete list of 536 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Foster Carers Survey Results Q 23
2024 Foster Carers Survey Results Q 23

Q24. Have you ever been refused a break?

To obtain a complete list of 514 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Foster Carers survey report Q24
2024 Foster Carers survey report Q24

Q25. Has your mental health suffered because of your fostering?

To obtain a complete list of 567 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Foster Carer Survey Q25
2024 Foster Carer Survey Q25

Q26. Have you ever chosen not to seek support for your mental health challenges because of fear it could damage your role as a foster carer?

To obtain a complete list of 275 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Foster Carers Survey Q26
2024 Foster Carers Survey Q26

Q27. Have transitions been planned and enacted in a way that puts the specific needs of that child first (not following a one-size-fits-all) and with consideration for the whole fostering household?

To obtain a complete list of 427 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024-Survey-2024 Foster Carers Survey Results Q27
2024-Survey-2024 Foster Carers Survey Results Q27

Q28. When a child or young person has been moved on have you been discouraged or prevented from maintaining a relationship with them by someone other than the child?

To obtain a complete list of 529 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Foster Carers Survey Results Q28

Q29. Which of the following statements are true for you, tick all that apply

To obtain a complete list of 329 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Foster Carer Survey Report Q29

Q30. Does the fear of allegations ever affect your fostering role in any way?

To obtain a complete list of 454 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Foster Carers Survey Results Q30
2024 Foster Carers Survey Results Q30

Q31. Do you foster for an Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) or Local Authority (LA)?

To obtain a complete list of 404 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Survey Report Q2
2024 Foster Carer Survey results Q20

Q32. Do you feel the out-of-hours support for foster carers is sufficient including over Christmas, festivities, bank holidays and weekends?

To obtain a complete list of 574 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Foster Carers survey results Q32
2024 Foster Carers survey results Q32

Q33. Do you feel confident allegations are carried out in a fair, just and balanced way?

To obtain a complete list of 404 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Foster Carers Survey Q33

Q34. Are you satisfied that your fostering service protects your personal information and stores and shares it in compliance with data protection regulations?

To obtain a complete list of 360 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Foster Carers Survey Results Q34
2024 Foster Carers Survey Results Q34

Q35. When your GP completes a medical report for your fostering role does this go directly to the Medical Advisor only, who completes a short Fit/Unfit to Foster Statement for the Fostering Service and Panel?

To obtain a complete list of 239 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Foster Carer Survey Results Q35
2024 Foster Carer Survey Results Q35

Q36. Would you recommend fostering to a friend, family member or colleague?

To obtain a complete list of 457 comments, please contact FosterWiki. Please note that the availability of the list is limited.

2024 Foster Carers Survey Results Q36

Q37. In the past year have you seriously considered resigning as a foster carer for any of the following reasons, tick all that apply.

2024 Foster Carer Survey Results Q37
2024 Foster Carer Survey Results Q37

Key Findings

Compliance and Quality of Care

Compliance with standards – Nearly half (48%) of respondents reported that their providers do not, or only sometimes, comply with the law and national minimum standards.

This indicates potential lapses in regulatory adherence and raises questions about the quality and consistency of care provided by these providers.

Discrepancies with official ratings – A significant majority (67%) stated that their frontline experience does not always align with the organisation’s (Ofsted, Care Expectorate) ratings.

This suggests discrepancies between official assessments and the day-to-day realities faced by foster carers, potentially indicating shortcomings in the evaluation process or the accuracy of ratings.

Concerns about professionals – Half of respondents (50%) had to report a concern or complaint about professionals within their fostering services in the last year. This highlights issues with professionalism, competence, or conduct within the fostering system, necessitating robust mechanisms for addressing and resolving such concerns.

Lack of information – A substantial majority (80%) indicated that they are not always given available information about their child at the start of the placement. This lack of communication can hinder foster carers’ ability to provide tailored and effective care, potentially impacting the stability of the placement, the well-being and outcomes of foster children.

Inadequate care plans – Over half (54%) of respondents stated that their children’s care plans are not always sufficiently up-to-date, followed, or effective. This raises concerns about the quality and effectiveness of care planning processes, potentially resulting in suboptimal outcomes for foster children and increased challenges for foster carers.

Children's Well-being and Transitions

Social worker turnover – A concerning finding is that 71% of children in foster care had more than one social worker or experienced periods without any social worker allocated in the past year. This turnover can disrupt continuity of care, hinder rapport-building, and undermine the effectiveness of support and interventions provided to foster children.

Inadequate care plans – Over half (54%) of respondents indicated that their children’s care plans are not always sufficiently up-to-date, followed, or effective. This suggests shortcomings in the planning and implementation of care strategies, potentially leading to unmet needs, lack of consistency, and suboptimal outcomes for foster children.

Transitions without consideration – Another notable discovery is that 54% of respondents indicated that children’s transitions were orchestrated without regard for the entirety of the fostering household, often neglecting to prioritise the child’s needs. This deficiency in comprehensive planning has the potential to disrupt familial dynamics, strain interpersonal relationships, and exacerbate difficulties for both foster children and fostering families during transitions.

The emotional repercussions stemming from separation and loss subsequent to a child’s departure were identified as a contributing factor influencing the resignation intentions of 25% of respondents.

This underscores a lack of comprehension regarding the emotional investment foster carers have in the children under their care, a facet crucial for the well-being of the children, and emphasises the necessity for meticulously planned and executed transitions.

Barriers to maintaining relationships – A significant majority (58%) stated that children or young people have been discouraged or prevented from maintaining relationships with them after moving on. This suggests systemic barriers or resistance to supporting ongoing connections between foster children and their former carers, impacting emotional well-being, future well-being and continuity of support for the child.

Unaddressed mental health needs – A substantial proportion (60%) reported that children in their care have mental health needs that go unaddressed. This gap in support can have profound effects on the well-being and stability of foster children, as well as on retention and placement stability for foster carers.

Lack of effective working relationships – A majority (62%) of respondents indicated that they do not always have an effective working relationship with their children’s social worker.

This highlights communication barriers, lack of trust, or other challenges in the collaborative efforts between foster carers and social workers, potentially hindering the quality of support and care provided to foster children. 

Professional Role and Support

Insufficient out-of-hours support  – A significant majority (77%) of respondents reported that out-of-hours support for foster carers is insufficient, especially during holidays and weekends.

This lack of support during crucial times can exacerbate stress and strain on foster carers, potentially impacting the quality of care provided to foster children and low retention figures. 

Limited choice of support services – Only 29% of respondents were given a choice of support services, indicating a lack of flexibility or options tailored to individual needs.

Providing foster carers with a range of support services can enhance their ability to address specific challenges and access resources aligned with their preferences and circumstances.

Lack of awareness about foster carer’s union – An alarming 84% of respondents had not been informed about the existence of their approved and certified foster carer’s union.

This lack of awareness deprives foster carers of potential advocacy, representation, and support networks crucial for addressing their concerns and advocating for their rights within the fostering system.

Self-sourcing of support services – Nearly half (45%) of respondents reported sourcing their own support services, finding those provided by their fostering service inadequate or lacking independence. This reliance on external resources potentially highlights gaps in the support provided by fostering services or agencies.

Supervision challenges – A majority (63%) of respondents had more than one supervising social worker in the last two years, indicating instability and turnover in support personnel.

Many also highlighted long gaps between supervising social workers, further compounding challenges, and undermining the consistency and effectiveness of support provided to foster carers.

Inconsistent supervision sessions – While 70% of respondents received the mandated six-weekly supervision sessions, 30% did not, indicating inconsistencies in adherence to regulatory requirements.

Over 50% of foster carers did not receive a copy of their supervision notes to sign off and retain before their next supervision session. Inadequate supervision can hinder foster carers’ ability to address challenges and access support, potentially impacting the quality of care provided.

Difficulty in discussing fostering roles – A significant proportion (33%) of respondents felt it was not easy to openly discuss their fostering role with their social worker, indicating communication barriers or discomfort in addressing concerns or seeking support. This highlights the importance of providing a supportive and open environment where foster carers feel comfortable and safe discussing their roles, challenges and needs with their social workers.

Education and Training

Training quality – A notable finding is that 54% of foster carers do not find the training provided by their fostering service/agency to be of a high enough quality or relevance to enhance their effectiveness in their role.

This indicates a gap in the content, delivery, or applicability of the training programs offered, potentially hindering foster carers’ ability to address the diverse needs of foster children and provide optimal care.

Pre-approval training – An even more concerning statistic is that 84% did not find the training and access to information provided before their approval to be completely adequate in preparing them for their fostering role.

This suggests a systemic failure in adequately preparing individuals for the challenges and responsibilities of fostering, potentially leading to unmet expectations, frustration, and difficulties in transitioning into the role of a foster carer. 

Support and Mental Health

Impact on mental health – The data indicates that a staggering 78% of foster carers report that their mental health has suffered because of their fostering role. The responsibility of caring for vulnerable children and managing the intricacies of the fostering system can indeed have a significant impact on the psychological well-being of foster carers.

This underscores the necessity for robust, independent support mechanisms within the system to retain the workforce and empower foster carers to effectively fulfil their role. 

Reluctance to seek support – A concerning finding is that 56% of foster carers have chosen not to seek support for their mental health challenges due to fear it could damage their role as a foster carer.

This fear of stigma or repercussions underscores the need for de-stigmatising mental health issues within the fostering community and providing safe spaces for foster carers to seek help without judgment or consequences. 

Lack of paid respite/breaks – Nearly half (48%) of foster carers do not have paid respite or breaks as part of their fostering agreement with their providers. This lack of respite can contribute to caregiver burnout and exacerbate mental health challenges, underscoring the importance of providing adequate support and relief for foster carers if they are to provide optimum care for the children they look after. 

Difficulty in requesting breaks – A majority (63%) of foster carers do not feel able to ask for a break from their fostering role when they need it. This suggests a culture or system that may discourage foster carers from prioritising their own well-being and seeking necessary support.

Refusal of breaks – A significant proportion (34%) of foster carers have been refused a break, while many others express reluctance to ask for one due to fear or perceived barriers.

This highlights systemic deficiencies in supporting foster carers’ needs for rest and respite, potentially leading to increased stress, mental health issues and decreased retention rates.

Allegations and Data Protection

Fear of allegations – An overwhelming majority (82%) of respondents reported that the fear of allegations affects their fostering role in some way. This fear can create a sense of vulnerability, anxiety and lack of trust among foster carers, potentially impacting their confidence, decision-making, and ability to provide effective care.

Impact on advocacy – A substantial proportion (41%) of respondents stated that the fear of allegations prevents them from adequately advocating for their children. This fear may hinder foster carers from advocating assertively for their children’s needs or expressing concerns, potentially compromising the quality of care and support provided to foster children.

Lack of confidence in the allegations process – An alarming 85% of respondents do not feel confident that allegations are carried out in a fair, just, and balanced way. This lack of confidence suggests systemic deficiencies or perceived biases in the handling of allegations, potentially undermining foster carers’ trust in the safeguarding processes and their willingness to engage with them.

Concerns about data protection – Over half (54%) of respondents expressed dissatisfaction with their fostering service’s protection of their personal information and compliance with data protection regulations. This indicates a lack of transparency, accountability, or safeguards in place to protect foster carers’ sensitive information, raising concerns about privacy and confidentiality.

Handling of medical data – A concerning finding is that only 19% of respondents indicated that upon completion of a medical report by their general practitioner (GP) for their fostering responsibilities, the report is directly transmitted to the Medical Advisor, who subsequently compiles a concise fitness-to-foster report for the Fostering Service.

Conversely, 61% of respondents expressed a lack of awareness regarding the destination and handling of their medical data, raising uncertainties about its transmission, handling procedures, and adherence to correct protocols.

Factors influencing those considering resignation

Feeling undervalued – The most prevalent reason cited by 75% of respondents, is that feeling undervalued indicates a perceived lack of recognition and appreciation for the vital role foster carers play in supporting vulnerable children.

Burnout, exhaustion, or lack of breaks – 61% of respondents cited burnout, exhaustion, or the absence of adequate breaks as factors influencing their consideration of resignation.

This highlights the physical and emotional toll of fostering, underscoring the need for comprehensive support mechanisms to prevent caregiver fatigue.

Lack of support – Nearly six in ten respondents (58%) identified a lack of support as a significant factor in their contemplation of resignation. Insufficient support from fostering services can exacerbate feelings of isolation and overwhelm among foster carers.

The conduct of fostering services – The conduct of social workers emerged as a key concern, with 56% of respondents citing it as a reason for considering resignation.

Negative interactions with social workers can undermine foster carers’ confidence and satisfaction with their role.

Lack of support for the children – Over half of respondents (55%) expressed concerns about inadequate support for the children in their care. This underscores the importance of holistic support systems that prioritise the well-being and needs of foster children.

Financial reasons – Financial considerations were cited by 52% of respondents as a factor influencing their decision to resign. This highlights the economic challenges faced by foster carers and the need for fair remuneration and financial support.

Impact on own birth children or family – The impact of fostering on the foster carer’s own birth children or family was cited by 45% of respondents. Balancing the needs of their own family with those of foster children can present significant challenges for foster carers.

Fear of allegations – A notable concern cited by 38% of respondents was the fear of allegations. This reflects the potential vulnerability of foster carers to unfounded accusations and the need for robust safeguards and independent support mechanisms to address this fear.

Being bullied – A smaller but significant proportion (26%) reported experiencing bullying, highlighting interpersonal challenges within the fostering environment that can contribute to foster carers’ distress.

Grief and loss after a child moves on – The emotional impact of separation and loss after a child moves on was cited by 25% of respondents. This underscores the emotional investment foster carers have in the children in their care and the need for adequate support during transitions.

Not in agreement with a child’s care plan – Finally, 24% of respondents mentioned disagreements with a child’s care plan as a factor in their contemplation of resignation.

This highlights the importance of collaborative decision-making processes that prioritise the best interests of the child.

Recruitment

Finally, we asked, ‘Would you recommend fostering to a friend, family member or colleague?’ Sadly over 75% said they would not.

However, out of those over a third said they would consider recommending if their fostering services provided a commitment to the changes needed as a workforce.