Coronavirus putting a strain on foster care in Cornwall says campaigners

3 minute read
Coronavirus putting a strain on foster care in Cornwall says campaigners

Published at 8:01am 12th April 2020. (Updated at 7:25am 14th April 2020)

Campaigners say children in foster care are facing a 'looming crisis' as coronavirus begins to place a strain on foster families in Cornwall.  

Department for Education figures show there were 453 looked after children – those placed under the care of the council – in Cornwall in 2018-19.

Children’s charities say England’s care system will be placed under great strain as a result of measures to deal with COVID-19, with some families already pushed to “breaking point”.

The vast majority of these go into foster care with the Independent Foster Carers Alliance warning the sector faces a “looming crisis” as the coronavirus begins to place a strain on foster families.

Charity director Jane Collins says she fears reduced support for families will mean even more children needing new homes, while school closures have added to the strain on foster families caring for children with disabilities, who can no longer attend.

"The current unprecedented crisis is placing a massive strain on foster carers.

"Foster carers with children with complex medical needs and disabilities are already at breaking point without respite provision and school to give them needed time to recharge their batteries.”

Jane Collins, Director or Independent Foster Carers Alliance 

She added that the coronavirus outbreak could also further the anxiety of children in care, causing “very challenging behaviour” and the breakdown of many placements.

Anne Longfield, the Children's Commissioner for England, said there would be significant knock-on effects on children’s social care, which was already under heavy pressure.

“Whilst it is hard and unwise to predict at this stage, it would also be unwise to rule out the possibility that the number of vulnerable children needing care won’t increase, and add strain on a system whose staff are facing the exact same health threat we all are.”

Anne Longfield, the Children's Commissioner for England

Figures show one in every 238 children in Cornwall is looked after, compared to one in 154 across England.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said schools are remaining open to children in foster care to help protect them.

“Foster carers play a vital role in the lives of looked-after children.

"We are urgently addressing the challenges that they are facing during these uncertain times and working to get more emergency foster carers approved swiftly to help alleviate pressures on the system.”

Spokesperson from the Department for Education

Cornwall Council has been approached for a comment. 

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