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The impact of Covid-19 on fostering activities in the UK.

The impact of Covid-19 on fostering activities in the UK

Before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic and epidemic in the UK, social workers could freely visit and
evaluate homes of prospective and approved foster carers, pay unannounced visits to fostering homes, and
interact face to face with all stakeholders without such restrictions. However, the core effect of Covid-19
has been the limitation of such interactions in the hopes of containing the virus. Where foster parents had
to worry about the regular health issues as part of the child’s welfare, getting sick themselves present a
very complex situation that is not so easily resolved.
In early 2019, The Guardian reported on the ‘looming crises’ faced by the foster care system as a result of
poor government funding and support. Nearly two years later, a report made by BBC earlier this year
further indicated a serious shortage of BAME foster carers in the system, which further highlights the
continued sorry state of the foster-parent vs. foster children statistics.
The risk of infection for both foster parents and the children is easily the greatest threat here. A very
disturbing trend has been noted by The Independent. It seems parents with foster children under their care
are very reluctant to seek treatment when affected by the virus as this would mean deserting the children,
making them even more vulnerable.
With several thousands of people losing their livelihoods due to the epidemic, household incomes have
declined drastically to alarming levels. Just this May, a manager at the Perpetual Fostering Agency in
Manchester, Lisa Witter, revealed that the agency had over a thousand pending foster placements. These
had started flooding in soon after the Covid-19 virus hit the region for only a few months.
The psychological impact of the pandemic has been largely overlooked.
Already, children in the foster
care system are often under a lot of emotional stress having been separated from families or been
subjected to neglectful living conditions. With the onset of the pandemic, this emotional stress is only
further compounded by the separation from their friends in schools, the limited or non-existent interaction with family members or more familiar faces. As a result, these children are likely to develop serious anti-
social behaviour both in the near and far future.

The government has had to modify the delivery of children’s social care to suit the new reality brought
about by Covid-19. The changes aim to protect vulnerable children in society in the face of the pandemic.
Some of the key changes include:

  • The granting of local authorities the power to exercise some flexibilities in the foster system
    regulations at their discretion, in the interests of the foster children.
  • Increased financial support amounting to £3.2 billion to cover the increasing demand for
    caregivers and other fostering costs.
  • Prioritisation of the social services’ staff when accessing NHS services such as Covid-19 tests.


People wishing to foster children is easily one of the most effective ways to relieve the foster care system.
As such, fostering agencies and organisations are continually encouraging interested prospective
applicants to proceed, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Similarly, prospective parents in the process of
adopting foster children still have the green light to proceed even during the pandemic. A key focus has
been on ensuring that vulnerable children in care can still receive a loving and nurturing home. Foster
carers receive 24 hour support from their fostering providers which enable them to look after themselves
whilst they are caring.

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