The report outlines the difficulties Lancashire County Council have had trying to identify foster placements in Lancashire, citing an example of a young person who was moved over 100 miles from her home in Chorley to County Durham.
Furthermore, the research shows that almost half (44%) of all current placements from Lancashire County Council (1,106) were arranged by an independent fostering agency such as Family Care Fostering.
The shortage of foster carers is not a problem isolated to Lancashire and these statistics reflect wider trends from across the UK in both Local Authorities and Independent Fostering Agencies. In January 2016, the Fostering Network reported that over 9,000 more fostering households were needed to meet demand. Specifically, the report highlighted shortages of 7,600 foster families in England, with the highest regional recruitment target being the North West (1,300).
The importance of identifying new foster families in Lancashire (and the wider North West region) is crucial to supporting vulnerable children and young people in need of care. For example, particular importance is given to keeping children in their current schools or colleges when searching for a suitable foster placement.
Government National Statistics on Fostering in England (published February 2017) showed that a total of 2,295 children experienced at least one education placement change as a result of a fostering placement change during 2015 to 2016.
This finding is in the context of a young person moving from one placement to another but having more foster families in similar catchment areas will mitigate the risk of a child having to change their school due to a placement move.
If you’re interested in becoming a foster carer or would like more information to see if fostering is right for your family, please get in touch. More than ever Family Care Fostering are looking for people like you to make a difference - so let us help you make the first step...
Matt Holmes – Placements & Recruitment Coordinator
0800 5 677 677