More than a dozen households start fostering in Bedford

"We see more children coming into foster care and too few carers with the right skills," warns Ofsted

By Reporter
Friday, 3rd December 2021, 12:15 pm

More than a dozen households started fostering in Bedford last year, figures show.

But Ofsted warned the number of available foster carers across England is not keeping up with demand from vulnerable children.

Data provided by the Government body shows there were 90 households approved for foster care in Bedford during the year to March, providing 165 foster places.

Ofsted warned that while the number of fostering households in England increased by 2% between 2014-15 and 2020-21, the number of children in foster care has increased by 11%

Of them, 20 gained their approval between April 2020 and March this year.

Across England, there were 160,635 initial inquiries in 2020-21 – a record high and up 55 per cent since 2014-15.

However just 10,145 (6 per cent) led to formal applications, an all-time low and half the proportion in 2014-15 – meaning fewer applications despite an increase in enquiries.

Last year, 8,880 households gained approval to provide foster care, meaning there were 45,370 fostering households in total.

These households had 76,640 approved foster carers looking after 55,990 children.

But Ofsted warned that while the number of fostering households in England increased by 2 per cent between 2014-15 and 2020-21, the number of children in foster care has increased by 11 per cent%, with the type of carers available not always matching the needs of vulnerable children.

Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s national director for social care, said urgent action was needed to boost the number of foster carers.

She said: “Today’s statistics paint a bleak picture.

“Year on year, we see more children coming into foster care and too few carers with the right skills to give them the support they deserve.

“How long can this go on before the care system reaches breaking point?

“We rarely see children coming into care who don’t need to be, but with the right help earlier, some may be able to remain with their families.”

The Government said it was encouraging more people to come forward to provide foster care for children in need.

A spokeswoman said: “We have made significant additional funding available in response to changing pressures on children’s services and we are investing in different approaches to help councils provide foster care places, including through digital tools that make it easier to match children with foster carers, and by trialling different ways to plan placements.”