Every Child In Care Matters #ECICM
By the end of Key Stage 4, children in care are three to four times more likely to have Special Educational Needs as other children. In 2016, just 14% of Looked After Children obtained 5 or more GCSEs at A*-C. In context, 59% of their peers achieved this.
Furthermore, just 6% of care leavers aged 19 to 21 go into Higher Education.
The figures are bleak. Looked After Children in this country are clearly notably disadvantaged in terms of education.
Helping Looked After Children in their Education
So what do we do about it?
Lisa Witter, Manager of Perpetual Fostering, believes the answer lies in encouraging more educators to become foster carers.
She tells us: “Retired teachers, teaching assistants or University Professors have excellent skills that are completely transferrable to fostering and really could change the outcome for a young person in need.”
She adds: “Children who struggle from a young age at school need more support. And we know that Looked After Children are likelier to be amongst those struggling academically. Educators are incredibly skilled in spotting those struggling, identifying the specific additional needs a child may have and in support their learning in fun, engaging ways.
"Having someone in the home environment who can support them in their educational endeavours could really make a huge difference to the outcome for that child or young person.”
But it’s not just retired teachers that Perpetual Fostering is encouraging to take the leap. Those still in their jobs could be eligible to foster as well as not all Looked After Children require placement with stay at home carers.
Equally, Lisa believes that the families of educators are well placed too, adding:
“Fostering is a whole family endeavour. So even just one person in a household having an education related profession, even if they’re not a stay at home carer, would make a difference. I firmly believe that it could solve a lot of the problems children in Foster Care face at school.”
Myths Around Fostering
There are a lot of myths that surround fostering, which is perhaps why there is a shortage of carers in parts of the country. Let’s dispel some.
- You do not have to be married or even living with a partner to foster. Much like raising children, a support network helps. But single people CAN become foster carers despite what you might have heard. Foster carers from diverse backgrounds, professions and relationships situations are welcome.
- You don’t have to be a stay at home carer. Not all placements require a stay at home carer and in some cases you can continue to work while also acting as a foster carer
In addition, there’s a generous allowance for foster carers of up to £400 per week typically. So fostering needn’t leave you out of pocket or unable to earn either.
Changing Educational Outcomes
By providing Looked After Children with care placements in which they have access to people qualified to help people learn, Perpetual Fostering hopes it can improve outcomes for its Young People.
Could this be a nationwide scheme in years to come? And if so, might it close the educational gap between Children in Care and their peers?