Providing security and stability is crucial for looked-after children
Providing a secure and stable family environment is incredibly important for the emotional well-being of looked-after children.
Unfortunately, too many are not given the opportunity to enjoy this type of settled upbringing. According to the Department of Education, approximately 11% of looked-after children will experience three or more foster care placements each year.
This is clearly a problem and it is why the government has been consulting with care professionals over ways to establish more ‘permanence’ for looked-after children.
If children cannot be returned to their birth parents then adoption is an alternative. It offers a fantastic opportunity for children to gain access to a family. But the reality is just 5% of looked-after children are adopted each year. This compares to the 75% (more than 50,000 children) who live with foster carers.
For the three quarters in foster care, being part of settled family unit would clearly be more beneficial than change after change. We know lots of short-term placements can be detrimental to development, while long-term fostering provides greater certainty for the child. It has been argued, therefore, that long-term foster care should be regarded as the permanence option of choice for most children in care who cannot return to their birth family.
Under long term fostering arrangements, the child does not completely break contact with their birth parents – who, for whatever reason, are unable to care for them. Although it does mean that the amount of contact they have is reduced – this could be just once or twice a year.
What is considered most important is that the child is able to embed themselves within the fostering family. This provides security, stability and certainty – it also allows them to form attachments and make the affectionate bonds that are the cornerstone of emotionally security.
Better for the foster carer
Long-term fostering arrangements can also be better for carers as they gain access to professional support and foster care payments. This level of support is often a key reason why people choose fostering over adoption. For an example of this, read Linda’s fostering story here.
What is needed is more people willing to give a looked-after child the chance to be part of a loving family.
There are more than 30, 000 new foster care placements required each year in the UK but there are not enough carers to meet the need. If you think you might be able to provide a home, and you want to know more about the professional support available or foster care payments, please visit the appropriate pages on our website. Alternatively, you can talk all this through, over the phone, with one of our team by calling 0845 1304748.