The Department for Education published a report this week about the fostering system in England, based on a stocktake that was launched in April 2017, led by government adviser Sir Martin Narey and children's social worker Mark Owers.

Adoption UK provided input to the stocktake, alongside other fostering and adoption organisations.

Many Adoption UK members were foster carers before they became adoptive parents. Some continue to foster after they have adopted. Children in foster care and adoption are the same children, just at different stages of their journey to permanence. 

Adoption UK believes that the challenge is to build a fostering service which is capable of taking our most vulnerable children at the most traumatic time in their lives, and not only sheltering and safeguarding them, but understanding them, healing them, and equipping them to move on – to family members, adopters, or permanent foster care.

The report does a good job of recognising the remarkable work foster carers do, giving a voice to fostered children, and emphasising the need to give foster carers much greater authority in making decisions about the children in their care. We welcome the emphasis in the report on putting the child and the foster carer at the heart of the fostering system, and on giving the child a ‘normal family life’.

Adoption UK's chief executive, Dr Sue Armstrong Brown, said: "What matters now is how Government responds to the report. It provides some sensible recommendations that must be implemented quickly. But Children’s Minister Nadhim Zahawi MP must also grasp this opportunity to start to build a much more ambitious vision for foster care, which recognises the specialist job that foster carers do, and the support they need to do it.

"Foster carers can make a lifetime’s worth of difference to the children in their care and we should be treating them as the front line in remedial care, rather than a neglected backwater. They are the A&E of our social services and we need the best people, the best training and the best resources, to ensure foster care is a moment when damaged lives begin their journey towards recovery."