Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, responding to the Department for Education’s publication of ‘Foster Care in England’, said:
“All children, including those in foster care, need and deserve the love, care and support of a family. I welcome this review of fostering which shines a light on what being in foster care feels like for a child.
“I support many of the report’s recommendations, including giving clearer guidance to help foster carers so they know they are allowed to give their foster children physical affection like hugs and kisses, if the child wants them. I also support plans to give foster carers more freedom to make day to day parenting decisions.
“We know from the foster children we speak to that what they dislike most is the instability in the system and the stigma associated with being looked after. So we need to see the Government and local authorities prioritise stability of placement for children in care and for foster children to be treated like any other child and receive the same opportunities as others.
“However, I do not support the recommendations to remove Independent Reviewing Officers. We know from cases referred to our advice service Help at Hand that IROs often raise the alarm about a child’s situation that needs help to resolve.
“There are 70,000 children in the care of the state and they have faced more challenges in their short lives than most of us will ever know. The majority will live with foster families who have the immense responsibility to provide the secure and loving environment they need to help them recover and flourish. The Government’s ambitions for those children should be high and this report provides an opportunity for Ministers to do all they can to build a world-class foster system – loving, secure, stable and aspirational, with children’s voices at its heart. They must take it.”