Foster carers quit councils that fail to lend support over complaints

Many foster carers facing complaints or allegations are leaving the
service because local authorities are failing to support them, it
is claimed.

In some parts of England four out of 10 foster carers who are the
subject of a complaint decide to leave, say organisations
representing them.

Despite a series of local recruitment campaigns in the past year,
the number of foster carers nationally has failed to rise above
31,500 – a shortfall of 8,000.

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

“However, foster carers are so often ill-informed and badly
supported during the course of allegations, most of which turn out
to be untrue,” he said.

This has resulted in an exodus from foster care, Phillips said,
“because they feel deserted and neglected by the service”.

The national minimum standards for fostering require local
authorities to provide independent support to foster carers during
an investigation. But 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 when a
complaint is made, said John Simmonds, director of policy at Baaf
Adoption and Fostering.

“Foster carers should be able to turn to the local authority that
has placed the child, but there appear 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 de-registered from the service, some
because of fears over allegations.

“When other carers hear about this they decide to get out of
fostering before the same thing happens to them,” she said.

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