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Foster care 'overhaul needed'

An 'urgent overhaul' is needed to prevent fostered children in Wales being unnecessarily moved around the system, a report claims. The Welsh Government has stressed its commitment to foster carers.

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Foster care in Wales 'failing too many children'

An 'urgent overhaul' is needed to prevent fostered children in Wales being unnecessarily moved around the system, a report claims.

The Fostering Network Wales says emotional and financial pressures are leading to some foster children having to move homes three or more times in a year.

  • Almost a quarter of carers reported that a relationship with a fostered child had broken down in the last year
  • Around a half (53 per cent) said they are paid a fee for their work
  • Less than a quarter of these (13 per cent of the total) receive at least the national minimum wage for a 40-hour week

There are thousands of children across Wales who know the value of good-quality foster care. However, despite the improvements over the last 10 years, the system is still failing too many children. Most children who come into care will have already had traumatic experiences, and they will suffer even more every time a fostering relationship breaks down and they are moved on. This makes it harder for them to form meaningful relationships, to trust people and to do well in school and later life.

– Freda Lewis, director of the Fostering Network Wales

The report also warns the number of fostered children in Wales - currently around 4,400 - is at an all-time high, with at least 550 more foster carers needed in the next 12 months for the system to be able to cope.

The Welsh Government says it welcomes the report but stresses its commitment to supporting foster carers.

We have taken a number of measures to promote placement stability and support to foster carers, such as the introduction of a national minimum allowance for all foster carers in Wales, induction standards for foster carers and guidance for local authorities to delegate authority for everyday decisions to carers where appropriate.

Local authorities have a duty to provide a diversity of quality placements and carers with skills to meet the needs of their local looked-after children. Good planning and commissioning of quality placements is key to achieving better outcomes for looked after children and young people in Wales and we will continue to work with local authorities to improve this.

– Gwenda Thomas, Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services

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