Children in foster care are more likely to be concerned about their family life than other children, a report has found.
Children aged nine to 17 living in foster care were found to be more worried about various aspects of their life than other children, with 18 per cent saying they were worried about getting on well with their current family, in comparison to 14 per cent of other children.
While most 11- to 18-year-olds in care felt settled in their home, many reported they were unhappy with the frequency they were able to see members of their birth family. Some 74 per cent said they saw their father too much, too little or did not see them at all. For mothers, this figure was 61 per cent, and for siblings, it was 56 per cent.
Younger children in foster care also reported lower happiness levels in relation to their home life, with 10 per cent of six- to eight-year-olds in foster care saying they were unhappy with their family life, by comparison to seven per cent of those not in care.
The report, published by the children’s commissioner for England, Rachel de Souza, and children’s charity Coram, presented new analysis of looked-after children’s responses to the commissioner’s 2021 The Big Ask survey, which gathered more than 550,000 responses from children across the UK.
Children in foster care were also found to be slightly less happy with their school life, with 24 per cent of nine- to 17-year-olds saying they were worried about having a good education, compared to 18 per cent of other children.
Younger children in foster care were similarly more concerned about their education than their peers, with nine per cent saying they were unhappy with their education compared to four per cent of children not in care.
The report also notes that when asked what barriers stood in the way of achieving their goals, there were some commonalities among children in care.
Some children reported that they had been told they couldn’t succeed or follow their dreams later in life, which many attributed to their current living or financial situation.
One girl in foster care, aged 15, said: “I think one thing that stops children from achieving what they want is them being told they won’t be able to, based on their current situation financially and within the community.”
Children in care added that children’s services posed a barrier to them throughout their childhood, stopping them from being able to do certain things such as see their biological family.
Some children added they would like their foster carers to have more autonomy to grant them permission to participate in activities, without the need for approval from children’s services.
The report comes as the sector awaits the government’s implementation strategy for the Care Review and includes a series of recommendations to improve the lives of children in care, including:
De Souza said: “We know from The Big Ask that children in care want the same security and stability of home, relationships and education as all other children. However, too often it is these essential elements of a good childhood that are missing for children in care.
“We all have a role to play in providing a shield of support around children in care that mirrors the protective effect of family and allows them to be ambitious for their futures. The publication of the government’s strategy to reform children’s social care provides us with a unique opportunity to reform the lives of children in care.”
Carol Homdon, chief executive of Coram, added: “It is good news that the happiness of children in care is broadly similar to that of children in general. However, this new analysis also reveals that children in care are more worried than other children about some aspects of their lives: education, family relationships and where they live.
“If we focus on these three areas and listen to children about what matters to them most, we can close the gap even further and ensure children in care have the best possible chance in life“.
News & Jobs
News stories and job vacancies from our member agencies, the fostering sector and the world of child protection and safeguarding as a whole.