Making the right decisions for children growing up in long-term foster care

Published by  News Archive

On 3rd Dec 2021

Adult holding a child's hands
Getty Images

The essential role of long-term foster carers in helping to transform the lives of vulnerable children in care is highlighted in a new study published today.

Government data shows that 40% of children in foster care are in long-term foster care - over 20,000 children at the time of the study in 2019. 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.

The study investigated whether and how the first regulations and guidance on long-term foster care (Department for Education 2015) have been implemented by local authorities across the country.

The new framework required all local authorities to undertake a full assessment of a child’s current and future needs and the foster carers’ capacity to meet those needs through to adulthood, and provide a package of support. These processes were already established as good practice in some authorities, but the aim of the guidance was to bring all local authorities up to the same high standard.

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, and promoting more robust procedures for care planning, matching and support. 

As one local authority manager explained: “The regulations and guidance gave a clear route for legitimately accepting long-term foster care as a route to permanence, but making sure that it is not taken lightly.”

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. 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, said: “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.

This study has found that there have been benefits 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.

“However, these are difficult decisions and there was variation in local authority procedure and practice. The study has provided a range of recommendations for good practice in long-term foster care which we hope will be helpful in achieving stable placements and enabling children to fulfil their potential.”

Ash Patel, Programme Head, Justice at the Nuffield Foundation, said: “Long-term foster carers have a critical role in improving the outcomes of vulnerable children by offering a stable and safe family environment, while retaining contact with birth families.

“This new study demonstrates how official recognition of long-term foster carers and guidance for local authorities has helped to transform the culture around long-term foster care and improved care planning, assessment, matching and support.”

Latest News

 
Grassland wildfire
29 Jun 2022

Climate change will increase chances of wildfire globally – but humans can still help reduce the risk

New research highlights how the risk of wildfire is rising globally due to climate change – but also, how human actions and policies can play a critical role in...

Read more >
 
Aerial view from drone of a large flood affecting many houses in a town.
29 Jun 2022

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would reduce risks to humans by up to 85%

New UEA research quantifies the benefits of limiting global warming to 1.5°C and identifies the hotspot regions for climate change risk in the future.

Read more >
 
A woman holds a drawing of a human gut against her stomach.
28 Jun 2022

Maternal microbiome promotes healthy development of the baby

A mother’s gut microbes can help in the development of the placenta, and the healthy growth of the baby - according to new UEA research.

Read more >
Are you searching for something?
 
A woman holds a drawing of a human gut against her stomach.
28 Jun 2022

Maternal microbiome promotes healthy development of the baby

A mother’s gut microbes can help in the development of the placenta, and the healthy growth of the baby - according to new UEA research.

Read more >
 
A woman entering an MRI scanner
27 Jun 2022

Cutting-edge 4D flow MRI scans could revolutionise blood flow assessment in the heart

UEA researchers have developed cutting-edge imaging technology to help doctors better diagnose and monitor patients with heart failure.

Read more >
 
A Turtle Dove on a branch
25 Jun 2022

Built infrastructure, hunting and climate change linked to huge migratory bird declines

Migratory birds are declining globally because of the way that humans have modified the landscape over recent decades, UEA research shows.

Read more >
 
An infant taking part in a research project at UEA.
24 Jun 2022

Babies and over 65s needed for UEA psychology research

From the very young to the somewhat older, psychology researchers at UEA are looking for participants to help with two studies.

Read more >
 
Destruction of forest
23 Jun 2022

Loss of nature is pushing nations toward sovereign credit downgrades and ‘bankruptcy’

The world's first biodiversity-adjusted sovereign credit ratings show how ecological destruction affects public finances – driving downgrades, debt crises and...

Read more >
 
Yelena Moskovich, Scarlett Brade, Charlie Higson
22 Jun 2022

Soviet-Ukrainian novelist and Fast Show comedian take centre stage at Noirwich Crime Writing Festival

The ninth Noirwich Crime Writing Festival returns in September, with a special line-up announced today (Wednesday 22 June) featuring an award-winning...

Read more >
 
An older woman tries to get to sleep in bed.
22 Jun 2022

How sleep could help stroke patients make a better recovery

Researchers at UEA are launching a new study to see how sleep can help stroke recovery.

Read more >