More than 4,000 English children were fostered by family and friends in the 12 months to March – an increase of six per cent over the previous year.
According to a new report from inspectorate Ofsted, the total number of children and teenagers in foster care also increased over the same period, by two per cent, reaching 85,890. However, the number of households hosting foster children across the country also fell by a modest amount: the total of 36,890 represented a one per cent drop over the previous year.
Meanwhile, an increasing number of foster children have chosen to take advantage of the ‘staying put’ arrangements introduced in April last year by the Children and Families Act 2014. These allow youngsters to stay with their families until the age of 21 – provided the families agree. In the 12 months to March 2015, 1,790 young people over the age of 18 were still with their foster families – a an increase of two per cent.
Meanwhile, greater numbers of foster children are going missing – more than 5,000 were recorded in the year to March, a hefty 19 per cent jump on the previous year. Many of the children went missing on multiple occasions.
Eleanor Schooling of Ofsted said the figures highlighted the need to recruit more foster carers.
“The slight rise in children being placed in foster care again shows that it continues to be a valued choice of care for vulnerable young people, but also the ongoing need to recruit and retain more foster carers to meet increasing demand. We know that many children go on to have vastly improved outcomes from the care and support they receive.”
Read the full Ofsted report here.