Scientists are highlighting the importance of long-term foster care givers in helping to transform the lives of vulnerable children in their care. A new study stresses the essential role of care givers. The research was led by the Centre for Research on Children and Families (CRCF) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) working with colleagues from the University of Manchester and funded by the Nuffield Foundation.
According to the study, 40% of children in foster care are in long-term foster care- more than 20,000 children at the time of the study in 2019. Researchers looked at whether and how the first regulations and guidance on long-term foster care have been implemented by local authorities, such as the Department for Education, across the country, since 2015.
The new framework asked all local authorities to assess a child’s current and future needs and the foster care givers’ capacity to meet those needs up to adulthood. In the study, local authorities reported a positive impact of the regulations and guidance in raising the profile of long-term foster care as a legitimate permanence option.
“Most local authority staff considered long-term foster care to be a positive permanence option that could provide a secure family for children who had experienced trauma, separation and loss,” a release states. “However, there were some concerns related to the availability of long-term carers, the stability of placements in adolescence and the potential stigma for children growing up in care.”
Prof Gillian Schofield OBE, one of the authors of the new report, stated, “The introduction of these regulations and guidance was a welcome move by the government to support long-term foster care as a positive permanence option, with the aim of providing each child with love, security and stability as part of a foster family through to adulthood.”
He added that the study found there are positives “from the introduction of the long-term foster care regulations and guidance, with good examples of local authorities working hard to make the right permanence decision for each child and a range of positive approaches to long-term foster care.” He added that those decision are difficult and vary, based on local authorities, but that the new study should be “helpful in achieving stable placements and enabling children to fulfil their potential.”