Hundreds of foster care inquiries being dropped

Foster home crisisFoster home crisis
Foster home crisis
Only one in 54 households inquiring about becoming a foster carer in Northumberland goes on to make an application, according to new figures.

Data from children’s services watchdog Ofsted shows 270 households approached the council in Northumberland to ask about fostering - but only five (2%) made an application in 2020-21.

This was lower than six years before, when 278 inquiries were received, with 87 (31%) households going on to make an application.

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The figures also show there were 180 households approved for foster care in the area in the year to March, providing 330 foster places.

Of them, 40 were approved between April 2020 and March this year.

Nationally, there were 160,635 initial inquiries in 2020-21 – a record high and up 55% since 2014-15 – but just 10,145 (6%) led to formal applications.

That is an all-time low, meaning fewer applications despite an increase in inquiries.

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Last year, 8,880 households gained approval to provide foster care, bringing the number of fostering households to 45,370 – looking after 55,990 children.

Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s national director for social care, said urgent action was needed to boost foster carer numbers.

She said: “These statistics paint a bleak picture. We see more children coming into foster care and too few carers to give them the support they deserve.”

A Government spokeswoman said: “We have made significant additional funding available in response to changing pressures on children’s services, we are investing in different approaches to help councils provide foster care places, and trialling different ways to plan placements.”