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Foster Parents

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) whether foster parents have the same maternity and paternity rights as other parents; and what assistance is given to foster parents willing to take on disabled children; [128068](2) how many children have been placed with foster parents in each year since 1997; and what measures have been taken to encourage more couples to foster children; [128069](3) what assistance is given to foster parents to take on children with behavioural problems; and whether it is compulsory for them to attend school; [128070](4) what age financial assistance to foster parents looking after children with behavioural problems stops; and what plans he has to extend payments to fosterers parenting for children reaching adult age [128071]

Foster carers do not have the same right to maternity and paternity leave as other parents with respect to the children they are fostering. However, from April 2003 foster parents have the right to request

flexible working. The recent Green Paper on Children at Risk "Every Child Matters" consults on a proposal for increasing parental rights for foster carers.

Foster parents caring for disabled children may receive funding and support beyond and above a fostering allowance. This will be dependent on the child's needs.

The table as follows shows the numbers of children in foster placements each year since 1997:

Number of looked after children in foster care in England at 31 March: 1997–2002

At 31 March

All children in foster placement1

199733,500 (66% of all children looked after)
1998>35,000 (65% of all children looked after)
199936,200 (65% of all children looked after)
200037,900 (65% of all children looked after)
200138,300 (65% of all children looked after)
200239,200 (66% of all children looked after)

1 Figures exclude children looked after under an agreed series of short term placements


The information provided is derived from the SSDA903, a one in three sample survey of all looked after children in England, completed by local councils with social services responsibilities.

The Choice Protects Review has been set up to strengthen fostering services and has a grant of £113 million over three years from 2003–4 attached to it. To support local recruitment the Review has commissioned Fostering Network to develop Good Practice Guidelines for the Recruitment of Foster Carers, which will be available shortly, and is also developing a recruitment toolkit for local authorities. The recent Green Paper on Children at Risk "Every Child Matters" consults on further proposals to encourage more people to consider fostering.

Treatment foster care is a new three year scheme linked to the Choice Protects Review, which aims to provide foster care for the most difficult to place children. two million has been made available to set up development projects in 2003–4 and a further three million is available for new bids in 2004–5.

Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 states that: "The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full—time education suitable:

  • (a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and
  • (b) to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise."
  • The Children Leaving Care Act 2000 places a duty on local authorities to provide general assistance for looked after young people, including those with behavioural problems, in cash or in kind, until they are 21, and to assist with employment, education and training.