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Bursting at the seams: impact on fostering services of the rise of children going into care 2009-10

Since the tragic case of Baby Peter’s death came to public attention in late 2008 the care system has seen an unprecedented rise in the number of children, particularly those needing foster placements. This rise is the result of a number of possible factors, including the debate on thresholds following this case and a recent legal clarification of the law known as the Southwark Judgement.

By year ending 31 March 2009 local authorities in England had seen a nine per cent rise in the number of children starting to be looked after compared to the previous year. In Wales the picture was similar with a 13 per cent rise. The figure in Scotland, however, remained mostly unchanged.

A total of 76 fostering services were interviewed in England, Scotland and Wales (61 local authorities and 15 IFPs). At the same time foster carers were encouraged to respond to a short online survey about their experiences and in particular were asked if they had received requests to look after children more frequently than in the previous year. A total of 307 responses were received from foster carers.

This report is an analysis of both quantitative feedback and the rich source of qualitative information. It illustrates the challenges fostering services are currently experiencing in their efforts to find the right foster families for all children who need them.

Helen Clarke
Fostering Network