The Education Select Committee’s inquiry into fostering 2017
Summary of the Education Select Committee’s inquiry into fostering
Introduction & Context
1. When a child is unable to live safely with their birth parents, the state, acting through local authorities, steps in to provide an alternative home environment. A child is referred to as “looked-after” if they receive accommodation from a local authority for more than 24 hours, are subject to a placement order (which puts the child up for adoption), or are subject to a care order (which puts the child in the care of a local authority). Local authority care can include residential care, such as children’s homes, or foster care, where the young person lives in a family environment with foster carers. Unlike adoption, foster care is not always intended to be permanent, with the ultimate goal being to reunite many of these young people with their birth parents. Fostering placements can be provided directly by local authorities or contracted out to independent fostering agencies (IFAs).
2. The number of looked-after children in England has increased steadily since 2008. As of 31 March 2017, there were 72,670 looked-after children in England. This is an increase of 3% on 2016, and of almost 7% on 2013. Three-quarters of young people in care—53,420—live in foster care.1 In November 2017 a group of leading representatives from the children’s social care sector launched a review into the rising numbers of children in care, in order to investigate the reasons for recent rises and identify changes to local and national policies and practices that could safely stem the increases in a way which achieves the best outcomes for children and families.2 One of the stakeholders participating in the review, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, Alison Michalska, said that “a review which considers changes that could be made nationally and locally to reduce the number of children coming into care safely is long overdue”
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