Until now there has been little investigation in to the costs that foster carers bear in order to provide the extra accommodation space that their fostered children require, or the implication on foster carer recruitment and retention.
This important new research by Professor Tunstall is a vital first step in increasing our understanding of the issue, and in helping the fostering sector consider what might be the policy implications affecting matters such as allowances and grants to foster carers, and the allocation of social housing.
Some key findings of the report include:
- Foster carers are incurring very significant costs from their own pockets in providing suitable accommodation for fostering. A minority receive financial assistance from the authorities for this purpose.
- Some foster carers move to bigger homes or build extensions or adaptations to their existing homes to make sure they have suitable space for fostering. Many foster carers make use of spare rooms they already have, but there is still an impact – if they weren’t fostering, they might be able to have a paying lodger or to downsize.
- Figures showing the estimated range of accomodation costs by region.
- Evidence from a survey of foster carers revealing that about half thought the cost and availability of suitable accommodation affected their ability to foster and a few are considering stopping because of financial pressures.
Professor Tunstall has used a variety of primary and secondary sources, including a survey of foster carers carried out by The Fostering Network among its members in July 2014. The Fostering Network is very grateful to Professor Tunstall and to all the foster carers who participated in the survey.
Download the full report here.