MPs have announced they will hold an inquiry into fostering in England.
The Education Select Committee will look at the issues facing foster care, which include the shrinking number of placements available for children in need of a new home. The government’s Staying Put initiative will also be closely examined. This programme provides funding for local authorities to support young people living in care who choose to remain with their foster family until they turn 21, rather than leaving at 18.
The MPs will also focus on how to recruit new carers, how to keep the ones currently working and the role of private fostering agencies.
Select Committee chair Neil Carmichael said there were currently “more children in care than at any point since 1985 and … very real concerns of a shortfall in the number of families available to foster”.
The foster system is “in need of urgent attention” Carmichael claimed, adding that a great number of people “have been calling for a review of fostering for a while now”. While the government responded to these calls “by announcing a ‘stocktake’ of fostering in England” they have not provided any details about what that will entail, he explained.
In the meantime, the Education Select Committee’s inquiry seeks to “identify the main areas where government needs to act to ensure the foster care system in England is fully equipped to provide young people with the loving, stable care they deserve”.
Last month, foster carers voted to form the profession’s first ever trade union. They cited concerns over their lack of legal rights because they are not officially recognised as employees.