January 24, 2014

Fostering Aspirations: Reforming the foster care system in England and Wales

The foster care system provides vital support to some of our most damaged and vulnerable children. Those children who, for a whole variety of reasons, have been let down or cannot be cared for by their own families. We must aspire to a fostering system in England and Wales that provides the best possible care, with the best possible life chances, for all of the children within it. This is not currently the case. Some 48,530 children are now in a care system that is letting many of them down and is in radical need of reform.

By speaking to those in care and those providing care as well as submitting 150 freedom of information requests this report gets to the heart of the problems with system of fostering in England and Wales. There are not enough foster carers and not enough variety in foster carers to deliver the support needed by an increasingly hard to help population of children in foster care. Some LAs are performing poorly in terms of ensuring fast and appropriate placements and children and carers alike are frustrated and disillusioned with the system of social work that does not provide the support that is needed.

To tackle these failures this report makes a number of recommendations to increase the number of carers and improve the quality of care children receive. They would place an emphasis on quality of placement matches, not on minimising costs and on ensuring that local authorities are held to account over their performance in providing the best outcomes for children in care.


Matthew Oakley

Head of Economics & Social Policy, 2011-2013

Alice Harber

Economics Research Fellow, 2009-2011

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