Foster children are being locked out of their homes after school until their carer returns from work, the Department for Education has revealed.
The issue has been uncovered by children’s minister Tim Loughton who holds regular meetings with looked-after children and launched the “Tell Tim” website earlier in the year to allow them to contact him directly.
Helen Jones, professional adviser to the children in care division of the Department for Education, told a Community Care conference on supporting foster carers: “What’s coming up from the minister’s meetings is a concern from a number of children who say they are locked out of home until the foster carer comes home at night. This is happening too much.”
She also said too many foster children were not allowed access to the family fridge or to share Christmas dinner with their foster family.
“The real challenge for foster care is how to ensure that foster carers are properly trained and supported without losing the gift relationship [between carer and child] that is so crucial to a child’s care,” added Jones.
Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said: “The number of young people not getting a good experience in care is very isolated, but it’s very important we have good systems in place so that they can report concerns. That’s why it’s so important all children in care have access to independent advocacy.”
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