Fourteen local authorities pull together to launch new fostering service

Fourteen local authorities are combining their efforts for the first time to inspire more people from all walks of life to become foster carers.

It comes at the time of a growing crisis, with four children in the capital in need of a foster care place for every approved carer.

Until now, the city’s local authorities have either found homes for vulnerable children and young people on their own or contracted it out to third parties.

The new service, which went live for Foster Care Fortnight (13 - 26 May), will bring together boroughs stretching from Havering to Hillingdon.

Local Community Fostering is a consortium of six northeast London boroughs (Waltham Forest, Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, and Tower Hamlets).

Foster with West London covers eight other local authorities (Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Royal Borough Kensington & Chelsea, and Westminster City Council).

Over the past decade there has been a dramatic fall in the number of approved foster carers.

In 2014 there were 3,685 total approved fostering households but by the end of March 2023 (the last available figures) there were 2,560, an overall drop of 1,125 available homes.

A survey carried out for Foster Care Fortnight found that space may be the biggest issue.

One in three people questioned said they did not have the space to be a foster carer as children aged two or over require a spare room.

It is estimated that seven out of every ten people who make initial enquiries with councils drop out before completing the process.

Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said:

“Tower Hamlets urgently needs more foster carers.

“By working together, councils will be able to share resources and best practice to help support more families in their fostering journey.”

Cllr Maium Talukdar, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Education, Youth and Lifelong Learning, said:

“The launch of Local Community Fostering will save money for council across London in the long term whilst providing a network for foster carers to gain support through care support groups.”

The YouGov Poll of 1,058 adult Londoners in April also found:

  • One in five (20 per cent) Londoners have considered fostering, but only 4 per cent of those polled have actually fostered.
  • Top reasons for wanting to foster were to give a child a better future (58 per cent) and to help a child escape a challenging situation (49 per cent).
  • Just over one in five (22 per cent) said they would consider fostering for the financial package available.
  • While 29 per cent said they felt too old or too young to foster.

On Saturday (25 May), The Fostering Network is hosting their annual Foster Walk event at The Lab E20, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, in Newham.

Among the guests will be retired Olympian Fatima Whitbread.

Posted on Friday 24th May 2024