Charities warn of ‘looming crisis’ in foster care due to the coronavirus lockdown

Foster care in Hertfordshire and beyond is bracing for a 'looming crisis' amid the coronavrius pande

Foster care in Hertfordshire and beyond is bracing for a 'looming crisis' amid the coronavrius pandemic. Picture: Edmond Terakopian - Credit: PA

Campaigners have warned that the nation faces a “looming crisis” in foster care owing to the coronavirus lockdown.

Children’s charities say England’s care system will be placed under great strain as a result of measures to deal with COVID-19, with some families already pushed to “breaking point”.

Department for Education figures show there were 930 looked after children, those placed under the care of the council, in Hertfordshire in 2018/19 – a 4 per cent jump on the year ​before.

The figures show that one in every 294 children in Hertfordshire is in foster care, compared to only one in 154 across England.

The Independent Foster Carers Alliance has warned that the sector faces a “looming crisis” as the coronavirus begins to place a strain on foster families.

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Charity director Jane Collins says she fears reduced support for families will mean even more children needing new homes, while school closures have added to the pressure on foster families caring for children with disabilities.

“The current unprecedented crisis is placing a massive strain on foster carers,” she said.

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“Carers with children with complex medical needs and disabilities are already at breaking point without respite provision and school to give them needed time to recharge their batteries.”

The coronavirus outbreak could also further the anxiety of children in care, causing “very challenging behaviour” and the breakdown of many placements,” she added.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said that schools are remaining open to children in foster care to help protect them.

She said: “Foster carers play a vital role in the lives of looked-after children. We are urgently addressing the challenges that they are facing during these uncertain times, and working to get more emergency foster carers approved swiftly to help alleviate pressures on the system.”

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