Action for Children response to the review of foster care in England

Posted by Media team / Wednesday 07 February 2018 /

Our reaction to Sir Martin Narey and Mark Owers' review of fostering for the Department for Education.

Action for Children Director John Egan said:

"Today's fostering review contains much that is good and welcome but also some recommendations that risk undermining the best interests of children in care.

It's clearly right that there should be greater involvement of foster carers in day-to-day decision making about children and we support the call for young people to be helped in having their voices heard. We are however concerned about some of the recommendations and feel they need further thought.

The role of the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) is vital in ensuring oversight of every child’s care plan, and in independently challenging local authorities when things aren't happening as they should. To suggest 'dispensing with' the role of the IRO – without any thought to a replacement – is concerning.

There is no question we should aim for permanence in the care of our children but permanence is not a byword for adoption. Fostering is a key part of the care system, and it should not be our main ambition that foster carers adopt or become special guardians. What matters in every case is the best outcome for the child and in some cases that could also include specialist residential care or reunification with the birth family.

The Government must also focus on strengthening the success of Staying Put, so foster parents who are not in a position to adopt can continue to offer a supportive home. To do this the scheme needs adequate funding.

The Government now has an opportunity to look at the review's recommendations alongside last December's comprehensive proposals from the Education Committee for how young people, carers and the system itself can be more highly valued. We simply cannot afford to lose this opportunity to turn words into action."

For more information or for interviews please contact, Beth McDonald at Action for Children: [email protected]. For out of hours enquiries please call 07802 806 679.