In response to the release of the Fostering Stocktake, Natasha Finlayson, Chief Executive of Become, said: “We welcome the publication of the Fostering Stocktake and are pleased that the voice of children is loud and clear throughout this report. Too often, the children and young people that we work with tell us about how they have been made to feel that their views aren’t important. Putting their needs first must be a core part of any change to the fostering system.
“We hope that the adults who work in all parts of the social care system will take the messages here to heart: that children want to be listened to, to be treated as no different from children who aren’t in care, and to be loved.
“As a charity, we take heart in the fact that many children and young people viewed foster care positively. Foster care, when delivered well, can change the lives of children, and allow them to live the childhood they deserve.
“The report correctly emphasises that foster carers, who do a great job, need both support and to be involved in making decisions, which helps the children in their care to feel normal and to participate fully in family life.
“We welcome the recommendations aimed at ensuring that children are well prepared for moving to a new placement, and that prioritise maintaining the existing relationships that children have. We are also pleased that the report notes that matching of children to foster carers is ‘overwhelmingly supply led and not needs led - much more so than in adoption’, and we hope this recognition can ensure a change in practice so that a child’s needs are the main priority when deciding on a placement. This is because placing a child with a carer that can meet their needs is vital in enabling a child to flourish in care.
“However, given the report’s acknowledgement of the need for independent advocacy, the call for the removal of Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) seems misplaced. IROs provide a valuable function of oversight and support for children in care, and this report does not provide a robust justification for their removal. We are concerned that this will result in the erosion of support for children’s rights and entitlements, which runs counter to the many good ideas in this report.”