Jarrow MP urges government to use Queen’s Speech to pledge action on ‘crisis’ in the foster care sector

Campaigners in South Tyneside have urged the government to overhaul funding for foster care in England.

A new session of Parliament is due to be officially opened tomorrow (Tuesday, May 10), giving minister the opportunity to set out their priorities for the months ahead.

The ceremonial set-piece will see key policies outlined in the Queen’s Speech to Parliament.

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And Jarrow MP Kate Osborne has called for this to include a fully funded national strategy to deal with the “crisis in foster care”.

Jarrow MP Kate Osborne (middle) with Kevin Williams, chief executive of the Fostering Network (left), and Richard Burgon, Labour MP for Leeds East.
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“This government must take the opportunity of the Queen’s speech falling in fostering fortnight to commit to a fully funded national fostering strategy,” said the Labour MP, a former foster carer.

“In a climate where, over the last 12 years, local authorities have been forced to adapt their operations through cuts to local expenditure, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for foster carers has never been greater, with many children needing emergency support.

"The fostering sector and carers need increased recognition and wraparound support from local authorities and independent fostering agencies.”

This year’s Queen’s Speech coincides with Foster Care Fortnight, which runs from May 9 – 22, with South Shields Town Hall set to be illuminated in pink to mark the event.

It is estimated that an additional 9,265 foster families are needed across the UK to deal with current demand.

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In the UK, a child comes into care in need of a foster family every 20 minutes and, at the moment, there are believed to be more than 70,000 children living with almost 56,000 foster families.

"Foster carers are the bedrock of children’s social care,” said Kevin Williams, chief executive of the Fostering Network.

"They are vital in our society and our young people rely on their care, dedication, passion and skills to support them when they need it most.”

He added: “We know the current system is failing some of our children and young people and we must work together to keep up the momentum to ensure that significant improvements are made so that all children are supported to thrive and foster carers are valued and supported for the vital work they do.”