I missed the Fostering Network’s State of the Nation report in February 2019 despite, I feel sure, blanket coverage by our MSM. It was worth reading and reporting as it contains a number of statistics suggesting foster carers in Scotland are treated better than their counterparts in non-Scottish regions.

Here are the highlights:

Only 41 per cent of foster carers say that they will continue to foster for ‘as long as I am able’. This sentiment was highest in Northern Ireland, at 46 per cent. When it comes to uncertainty about when they will stop, Scotland is lowest here with only 19 per cent of foster carers replying: “I don’t know”, compared with the overall UK figure of 25 per cent. (11)

This is weirdly worded: ‘Scottish foster carers significantly more likely to foster as long as they are able.’

There is a clear difference between foster carers’ perceptions of support from their supervising social worker (70 per cent saying excellent or good) and the fostering service in general (only 53 per cent saying excellent or good): Scotland and Northern Ireland foster carers were more positive about the support from their fostering service in general, with 61 and 62 per cent respectively describing it as excellent or good. (14)

However, when it comes to the child’s social worker, the corresponding figure drops to only 58 per cent, a reduction of four per cent since 2016. We would like to see children’s social workers have much better training on foster care so that they are better able to understand the role of the foster carer. The picture is slightly (sic) better in Scotland here, with 63 per cent saying that the children’s social worker treats them as part of the team. (17)

63% is, of course, more than slightly better.

Overall, three-fifths (60 per cent) of foster carers said that they receive a fee, a slight increase on 57 per cent in 2016. Across the UK the highest percentage was in Scotland at 69 per cent. (21)

Very few foster carers receive retainer fees between placements: of those who reported receiving a fee in the first place, only 20 per cent said they receive a retainer. England has the worst record for retainers at only 15 per cent, while Scotland is highest at 38 per cent. (23)