Local authorities fail to support foster carers facing allegations

Many foster carers who have complaints or allegations made
against them are being forced to leave the service because local
authorities are failing to provide them with enough support, foster
care organisations claim, writes David

In some areas of England the problem is so bad that four out of
10 carers who are the subject of a complaint decide to leave the

Despite many local foster carer recruitment campaigns being
launched over the past year, their numbers nationally have failed
to rise above 31,500 and there remains an 8,000 shortfall.

Malcolm Phillips, helpline worker at the Fostering Network, said
it was important to support and listen to all children who allege
they have not been cared for properly and for their complaints to
be taken seriously.

“However, what does concern us is that foster carers are so
often ill informed and very badly supported during the course of
allegations, most of which turn out to be untrue,” he added.

This means that every year “carers are leaving the service
unnecessarily”, Phillips said, “because they feel completely
deserted and neglected by their fostering service”.

The National Minimum Standards for Fostering requires local
authorities to provide independent support to foster carers during
an investigation, however, many are not providing it because the
National Care Standards Commission is not inspecting councils until
after April.

Many foster carers are leaving local authorities to work for
independent agencies because they offer better support to them when
a complaint is made, explained John Simmonds, director of policy at
the British Association for Adoption and Fostering.

“Foster carers should be able to turn to the local authority
that has placed the child, but there appears to be many cases where
this does not occur,” he said.

Eileen Farrell of the Manchester Foster Care Association, said
more than half its carers had deregistered from the service, some
because of fears over allegations being lodged against them.

“When other carers hear about how awful they decide to get out
of fostering before the same thing happens to them,” Farrell


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