Foster family shortage puts more children at risk
An article in The Guardian, Tuesday 20 December 2011 revealed that children in care rose sharply after Baby Peter case in 2008, with crisis building as recession contributes to family breakdowns.
The Fostering Network estimates at least 8,750 new foster families need to be found across the UK, with the biggest shortfalls in London, the north-west of England and Scotland. Photograph: David Ellis/Getty
Response to story by Professor Bob Broad
Weeks Centre for Social Policy Research, London South Bank University
Your article (Children put at risk by shortage of foster families, 20 December) misses a key point about the importance of caring for children within their own kinship networks. Research into child welfare indicates that, for those children who can no longer live at home with their birth parents, the option of being brought up full-time by a relative or friend – or in kinship care, as it is known – is one that offers at least as good outcomes as other arrangements.
It is also the living arrangement that children tend to prefer to being moved away. The added bonus of a kinship care arrangement is that there is continuity of family, friends and education for the child. Of course kinship care, as with foster care or adoption, is not suitable for every child and a full assessment of appropriate options needs to be made.
One of the UK’s key research studies, Kith and Kin: Kinship Care for Vulnerable Young People, noted how kinship carers are often “invisible” in policy terms – there is a lack of transparent local authority policies and service entitlements. Why shouldn’t full-time kinship carers for children receive the same levels of payments, allowances and services as foster carers or other full-time carers? After all, the children’s needs are the same.
For more information on Kinship Care contact Nigel Priestley on 01484 538421