Children in foster care are being bullied and missing out on ‘a full and proper childhood’ because foster carers are not allowed to make day-to-day decisions on issues as simple as a haircut, a new survey claims.The study of more than 1,000 foster carers across the UK by the Fostering Network - entitled Like Everyone Else - found around one in five (17 per cent) cannot decide if a child can get their haircut or allow a child to go on a school trip and a third cannot give permission for a child to stay over with a friend.
Instead foster carers have to ask local authority social workers about such issues, who in turn often require the approval of a senior manager, the Fostering Network said in a statement.
This can lead to ‘unnecessary delays’ meaning fostered children often miss out, and ‘in some cases can be bullied because the decision making process sets them apart from other children’.
Robert Tapsfield, chief executive at the Fostering Network, said: ‘We hear far too many examples of children missing out on the essential experiences of childhood because their foster carers are not allowed to make basic decisions. One girl wanted to go on a school trip, but because it took 16 weeks for the local authority to give permission she couldn’t go. That is ridiculous and the system has to change.
‘Local authorities should see delegating more authority to foster carers as a positive step as it will free up time for social workers and reduce unnecessary bureaucracy.’
The Fostering Network has called for day-to-day decision making to be automatically delegated to foster carers ‘unless otherwise specified’, and all four UK governments to run programmes to help local authorities to put this into practice.
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