inisters must “rocket boost” fostering to tackle a shortage of carers, the Children’s Commissioner for England has said.
Dame Rachel de Souza suggested the Government could learn from its Homes for Ukraine scheme to access an “untapped well” of possible carers.
The UK needs 7,200 more foster families, with the problem being particularly acute in England where 6,000 are required, according to the Fostering Network charity.
Dame Rachel warned bureaucracy may be a problem, citing figures suggesting nearly three quarters of people who complete a fostering form do not go on to look after children.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Of course children need to be safe and of course all the checks need to be carried out, but 71% of people dropping out seems very high to me.
“I urge ministers and I urge the Government to run a national fostering campaign. It’s really, really important that we rocket boost fostering.”
The MacAlister review of children’s social care in England last year called for £2.6 billion of new spending over four years.
But the Government faced criticism for announcing £200 million of investment in response.
Children’s minister Claire Coutinho said £11 billion is spent on the children’s social care system overall, with a further £2.3 billion coming in the last autumn statement.
But she said the £200 million is for testing “really ambitious” plans to respond to the MacAlister review as she insisted the funding was not falling short.
“You can’t just fund a system with money, you do need to make sure the reforms work properly,” she told the Today programme, being guest edited to highlight issues in fostering.
Every child deserves a safe and stable home so the rising numbers of young people in need of supportive care placements needs addressing urgently
She argued recruitment is “one of the biggest challenges”, saying last year 138,000 people made inquiries to become a foster carer but only 6% of them became one.
“People call up and say they want to be a foster carer and then they don’t necessarily get that hand-holding to make what is ultimately a big decision in your life,” the minister said, pointing to a pilot aimed at alleviating the issue.
Anna Edmundson, head of policy at the NSPCC, urged the Government to “speed up and turbo charge” its reform plans.
“Every child deserves a safe and stable home so the rising numbers of young people in need of supportive care placements needs addressing urgently,” she said.
“But the status quo of increased spending on expensive care placements without adequate investment in early intervention is unsustainable and letting down the most vulnerable children and families.”