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City MP and Shadow Minister call for urgent action to tackle looming crisis in foster care

Labour has called for urgent action act to tackle a looming crisis in the number of foster carers, and ensure all children can have a stable, loving home.

Data shows the number of current foster carers deregistering is increasing faster than the number of new families, prompting calls for urgent action to improve recruitment and retention. Last year, the South-East saw a decline of 310 foster carers registered with local authorities.

This comes as the number of looked after children continues to grow, increasing 26 per cent in Portsmouth since 2012, with a 21 per cent increase nationwide. This is rapidly outpacing the number of new foster homes which has increased just 6 per cent since 2012.

More than a decade of Conservative government has stripped away vital early-help services which worked to prevent children unnecessarily entering care. At the same time, almost half of children’s services in England are now rated by Ofsted as inadequate or needing improvement, holding back the wraparound support available for foster families.

Labour’s Shadow Minister for Children and Early Years, Helen Hayes MP, visited Portsmouth with Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Schools Minister Stephen Morgan to meet with foster carers and see the Fostering Network’s Mockingbird service, which brings foster families together to support each other. The service was highlighted as an example of good practice in the recently published Independent Review of Children’s Social Care.

Helen Hayes MP, Labour’s Shadow Children and Early Years Minister, said:

“Foster families are crucial to ensuring every child has a stable, loving home, but across the country services are at breaking point after a decade of Conservative neglect.”

“Too often bureaucracy puts off potential foster carers whilst a lack of support means many families are choosing to deregister.  Today, I’ve seen the brilliant Mockingbird service which a really effective example of ways in which additional support can be provided to foster families to help them sustain their vital work.

“Labour in government transformed support for children and families, ensuring all young people were supported to thrive. Labour will put children first once again.”

Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Schools Minister, said:

“Twelve years of Conservative government has created a crisis in foster care. The number of looked after children in our City has grown faster than in the rest of the country, yet the number of foster families in the region is shrinking.

“The Mockingbird service in Portsmouth offers outstanding support to both children and foster families, facilitating stable and loving homes across our City.

“The next Labour government will put children at the heart of our vision for a successful and prosperous Britain.”