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17 June 2010 | PR 10/97

Research shows shortfall in foster care funding

A report from researchers at Loughborough University’s Centre for Child and Family Research (CCFR) and leading charity the Fostering Network has identified a shortfall in funding for foster care in the UK.

Figures from The Cost of Foster Care, a new report published today, show that fostering is an underfunded service, and a further £580 million is required across the UK now to develop a properly resourced fostering service that meets the needs of children in care.

Following the Government’s decision to remove ringfences and give local authorities more flexibility on how to make savings, the Fostering Network says any reduction in spending on foster care would make the system unsustainable and jeopardise the improvements made in outcomes for children. It warns funding for foster care must be maintained otherwise society’s most vulnerable children will suffer.

Fostering is under immense pressure due to year-on-year increases in the number of children coming into care and the chronic shortage of 10,000 foster carers.

The Fostering Network is urging the Government to ensure additional funds are made available for the increasing number of children needing foster homes when it conducts its Comprehensive Spending Review in the autumn.

Commenting on the launch of the report, Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, said:

”Services for children in care have been underfunded for too many years and to make cuts will mean a foster care system already creaking at the seams will become unsustainable and unable to cope.

“When foster care works, it works really well, and outcomes are improving. However, children in care are still over-represented in prison populations, more likely to suffer from mental health problems or be homeless and living on the streets. Failure to maintain funds and invest in good quality foster care is a false economy.

“Fostering is facing real challenges with more children needing to live with foster carers than ever before. We are calling on the Government to ensure funding will be made available in the future so that foster carers are properly supported and the children they look after do not suffer.”

Assistant Director of CCFR Lisa Holmes who led the study with colleague Jean Soper added:

“Whilst the report shows an increase in real term expenditure per child in foster care since 2004, there still remains a substantial shortfall in funding. This also has the potential to be exacerbated if the number of children in care continues to increase.”

−ENDS−

For more information, or a copy of the report, contact:

The Fostering Network
Press Office
T: 020 7620 6425
E: media@fostering.net

For all Loughborough University media enquiries contact:

Amanda Overend
Senior PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228686
E: A.J.Overend@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

  • Update to the Cost of Foster Care, by Lisa Holmes and Jean Soper of the Centre for Child and Family Research, Loughborough University is based on government data from all four nations in the UK and academic and economic sources. Published by the Fostering Network, it is available to download from https://www.fostering.net/resources (from Thursday 17 June).
  • The shortage of 10,000 foster families means too many children are moved from home to home, live miles from their friends and family and are split up from their brothers and sisters. The resulting disruption and instability can be extremely damaging to a child’s wellbeing, and to their longer-term ability to make and maintain relationships and educational progress.

  • The extra £580 million is required to ensure that:

    • all foster carers are given the Fostering Network’s minimum recommended allowance for all the children in their care, to cover the costs of looking after fostered children.
    • full-time career foster carers are paid a fee throughout the year.
    • all foster carers are offered and required to attend post-approval training
    • specialist help and advice is made available to foster carers in order to improve outcomes for fostered children, who often have additional educational and health needs.
    • funding is available for the effective and efficient management of foster care services, and so that adequate support can be offered to foster carers.
    • funding is available to recruit the numbers of foster carers who are needed.
    More detail on the changes needed to provide foster carers with the practical and financial support they require to ensure that foster care works for every fostered child and every foster family are available from: http://www.fostering.net/sites/www.fostering.net/files/uploads/word/tfc_press_pack.pdf
  • There are 70,000 children in care looked after away from home in the UK on any one day, of whom over three-quarters (54,000) live with at least 45,000 foster families. The Fostering Network estimates that there is a shortage of 10,000 foster families.
  • The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading charity for all those involved in foster care. It exists to make life better for fostered children and those who care for them.

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2009 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top five universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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