Scots consider limit to children numbers

Foster care charities in Scotland have welcomed news that the Scottish executive is considering limiting the number of children placed with individual carers.

Its draft National Fostering and Kinship Care strategy, published last week, asks whether a maximum number of three children should be looked after by a foster carer at any one time – as in the rest of the UK.

The executive had previously indicated it was reluctant to introduce a limit due to the shortage of foster carers.

It is not uncommon for carers to look after six children at one time, but some say this is not in their best interests.

Bryan Ritchie, director of Fostering Network Scotland, said: “[The executive] will have to listen to the views of professionals, carers and children on the issue.” 

The strategy, which is out for consultation until February, also recommends allowing foster placements to be extended beyond a child’s 18th birthday, giving additional financial and training support to foster carers and introducing standardised payments for them. It also asks whether they should be registered with the Scottish Social Services Council.

Once decided, new measures can be introduced through the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Bill, which completed its passage through the Scottish parliament last week.

Proposed amendments to prevent same sex couples from being allowed to adopt were overwhelmingly defeated during its final debate.

Barbara Hudson, Scottish director of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, said of the bill: “It creates a new legal order that has the potential to give children certainty and security within fostering arrangements and enables councils to be more creative.”

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