Only one in three households showing interest in fostering apply to care for vulnerable children in Nottinghamshire

Only one in three households enquiring about becoming a foster carer in Nottinghamshire goes on to make an application, figures suggest.

By Federica Bedendo
Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 12:46 pm

Despite a record number of families making enquiries across England in the year to March, the proportion who then apply is at an all-time low – with Ofsted warning the number of available carers is not keeping up with demand.

Ofsted data shows 125 households approached their council in Nottinghamshire to enquire about fostering, but only 40, 32 per cent, made an application in 2020-21.

This was more than six years before, when 704 enquiries were received, with 25, 4 per cent, households going on to make an application.

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There is a need for more foster carers.

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.

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 carers available not always matching the needs of vulnerable children.

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Urgent action

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

She said: “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 figures show there were 375 households approved for foster care in Nottinghamshire in the year to March, providing 675 foster places.

Of them, 95 were approved between April 2020 and March this year.

The Government said it was encouraging more people to come forward .

A spokeswoman said: “We have made significant additional funding available in response to changing pressures on children’s services and are investing in different approaches to help councils provide foster care places.”

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