Figures obtained by the charity Action for Children suggest that almost one in four UK children in foster care have experienced two or more placements in the year up to March 2015. The figures were obtained through a Freedom of Information request to local authorities throughout the UK, to which over two-thirds responded.
The shortage of foster carers is considered to be a significant factor in the breakdown of foster placements. It leaves less scope for children to be matched with carers that meet their needs. Sir Tony Hawkhead, Chief Executive of Action for Children points to the negative impact multiple placements can have for already vulnerable children. Those of us that represent children and parents in care proceedings are only too well aware of this. Particular difficulties arise for the many children who, as a result of their experiences, come into care with complex needs. These children require care from experienced and resilient foster carers backed up by a robust package of support. Whether a child is placed for a few weeks or a few years, getting the right placement is key to achieving positive outcomes for a child. It also provides a level of reassurance for parents who are separated from their children, while they try and address their own issues.
The figures were released by Action for Children to support their drive to recruit more foster carers across the country. The challenge is a considerable one given the increasing number of children requiring foster placements, the extent of the shortage and the impact of government cuts. For those that take up the challenge, there is the chance to make a real difference in the lives of vulnerable children. Their valuable contribution should receive greater recognition.