SCOTLAND – On January 31, 2017, following a survey of 2,500 foster carers, the Fostering Network has warned that the UK’s fostering system is under ‘unsustainable strain’. Jennifer Davidson, the Executive Director of the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS), commented:
Caring, compassionate foster carers are at the very heart of the stable, quality care that children and young people need when they’re unable to live with their families.
The day-to-day experiences of children who are ‘looked after’ form the building blocks for their healing and learning, and their ability to overcome adversity and develop resilience for their future. Foster carers are essential to the overall success of our care system, supporting children and young people through those important everyday moments and helping them reach their full potential.
That’s why foster carers need to be fully supported to do the very best they can. We need to pay close attention to the lessons from this report, as it offers insights into a significant piece of the jigsaw puzzle that makes up the care system.
Given the complexity of the issues however, we mustn’t look at foster care in isolation, without also considering the wider issues that impact on the future of our children.
Not only should we be concerned about the experience of foster carers and their need for better communication and support; we need good communication between foster carers and everyone involved in a child’s life – including social workers, health workers, teachers and parents – to make the best possible decisions for children and to ensure stability throughout a child’s life.
At CELCIS, we know from evidence that delays in making these decisions can seriously hamper the life chances of children. Narrowing the gap in the time it takes to have a child settled in a secure and permanent home, can radically improve what they achieve in life.
This is why we are working with every local authority in Scotland on the Permanence and Care Excellence programme, aimed at developing a whole-system improvement approach to make sure the right decisions are taken, at the right time, for every child. Foster carers form a critical piece of this whole system and we overlook them at our peril.
CELCIS, based at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, is committed to making positive and lasting improvements in the wellbeing of Scotland’s children living in and on the edges of care. Taking a multi-agency, collaborative approach towards making lasting change, CELCIS works alongside leaders, managers and practitioners to break down barriers and forge new paths in order to change thinking and ways of working with everyone whose work touches the lives of vulnerable children and families.