28 Jun

Fostering Network State of the Nation’s Foster Care 2021 Thematic report 3: Children's unmet needs 

The release date:-  28/06/2022 

These are encouraging figures, although not at all good enough. They do point to the fact that awareness is as growing as is support. This shows that we are over the tipping point and that it is now time for action and support. 

These are the FASD specific findings and recommendations: -  

One third of foster carer respondents were not given information about FASD as part of their pre-approval training. 

Nine per cent of foster carer respondents reported having cared for a child with a diagnosis of FASD in the last 24 months. 

A further 13 per cent cared for a child with suspected FASD. These figures were higher in Scotland where there is increased funding and training and consequently, a greater awareness of FASD. 

• Of those foster carers who had cared for a child with a diagnosis: 

55 per cent felt that health professionals were knowledgeable or very knowledgeable about the condition, 

26 per cent felt they were somewhat knowledgeable and 19 per cent felt that they were unknowledgeable or very unknowledgeable. 

Half reported that education professionals were not sufficiently knowledgeable about the condition. 

Only a third received follow-up support post-diagnosis. Support was provided by health, education and social work professionals. The majority of those who received support post-diagnosis said it was effective. 

• Of those who were seeking a diagnosis:

Two thirds had not received any support from their fostering service or child’s social worker around getting a diagnosis. 

71 per cent did not receive any support from their fostering service to cater for the child’s additional needs thought to be related to FASD. 

Every child has the right to the best possible health and education that must develop their personality, talents and abilities to the full.[1] FASD can significantly impact how children interact with the world. Greater awareness of FASD and diagnosis can enable better targeted support.  

Recommendation for fostering services: 

19. Fostering services should ensure that pre-approval training for foster carers includes FASD. This is so that foster carers are aware of the prevalence and understand the support required. More in-depth training should be provided post approval.   

Recommendations for governments: 

0. Relevant government departments across education, health and social care should increase funding for training on FASD. This should be for all those who work with children in care, to help improve awareness of the condition.   

21. As awareness of the condition increases, more children will be diagnosed. Increased funding of support models for affected children and families should be made available across education, health and social care. Children’s care plans should be developed via an informed multi-agency approach to tailor support for each child’s individual needs.   

22. Governments should review their data on children with additional learning needs to include FASD as a primary need. This would help give an indication of the prevalence of FASD and help target interventions needed by children.   

And 38.

 A learning and development framework for foster carers, such as that in Wales, should be implemented across the UK and sufficiently funded. It should cover accredited and standardised pre- and post-approval learning and development. This framework should include: 

 Recommendation for children’s placing authorities and fostering services:

23. Children’s placing authorities and fostering services should work together to provide multi-disciplinary training on FASD to all teams working with children and young people. They should also ensure that those who undertake looked after children’s medicals have a full understanding of FASD. 

This is a positive report and shows that things are changing. Please don’t be misled by the fact that some statements reflect small numbers, this is much better than before.

However, it states that In England and Wales, the recent NICE Quality Standard raises expectations that children and young people with probable prenatal alcohol exposure and significant physical, developmental or behavioural difficulties are referred for assessment. This is to be welcomed and should be a standard element of looked after children’s medicals. (My italics) 

In England the consideration that a child or young person might be affected by FASD is already part of the Statutory Guidance for Looked After Children’s medicals.[2]Hence the recommendation from tFN that They (children’s placing authorities and fostering services) should also ensure that those who undertake looked after children’s medicals have a full understanding of FASD.    

They have not included the figure that I quoted at the launch of ‘The Time is Now’[3] of those who might have FASD. In the background they quote that 27% of children might have FASD from the DHSC FASD Needs Assessment but fail to join the dots. This is the working for the figures that I used.  

If 27% of ‘looked after children’ have FASD as per the DHSC Needs Assessment, we can look at the figures from the ONS for Looked after children and this leads to the conclusion that around 21,930 looked after children have FASD in England. (27% of the 80,850 Dept for Ed Nov 2021). If we add the rest of the UK, we add another 6,494 children and young people. In total in the UK the figure is 28,424 (27% of 13,255 Scotland July 21 + 7,265 Wales March 21 + 3530 N Ireland March 2021).

This has huge implications for foster carers and agencies as almost all are under prepared and thousands of foster carers are becoming experts without adequate support or are failing the children in their care through no fault of their own.

In their social media graphic relating to FASD the state that 1 in 3 .. This is either an only 1 in 3 or for a positive spin we welcome the fact that now 1 in 3 foster carers looking after children are being supported in the important role that they play.              


Brian Roberts 28/06/2022 

   [1] UNCRC Articles 28, 29   

[2] Statutory guidance Promoting the health and wellbeing of looked-after children Gov.uk   

[3] The Time is Now The National perspective on ramping up FASD prevention, Diagnosis and support services National FASD Launch March 2022   

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