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COVID-19 Pandemics impact on foster care in Scotland

The pandemic brought with it a number of stressors for many families, and for those families in the social care system, existing challenges were exacerbated. Find out more about the impact the pandemic had on the foster care system.

January 18 2023 - 3 min read

Along with lockdown, homeschooling, facemasks, and thousands of downloads of the House Party app, the pandemic brought with it a huge amount of changes and challenges in the foster care system.

From a staggeringly high demand for more foster care places to a very noticeable drop in prospective carers coming forward to start the fostering process, the pandemic created something of an emergency in the care system, and the impact has continued long after the end of lockdown.

The Scottish Government published a summary of the Scottish and UK evidence on the impact of Covid-19 on the well-being of children, including children in care and young people, which showed not only a worryingly increased risk of mental health issues but also isolation and a surge in the demand for secure foster homes.

Foster care during the pandemic

The pandemic brought with it a number of stressors for many families, and for those families in the social care system, existing challenges were exacerbated.

The number of children entering foster care during the pandemic saw a huge surge. This was a result of a number of factors including the strain of lockdown in already dysfunctional homes, trauma or abuse, poor mental health, the pressure of homeschooling, and financial turmoil to name a few.

The pandemic also saw a number of available foster homes in some areas of the country fall due to issues such as shielding and self-isolation.

There were also cared-for children who found themselves unable to move on during the pandemic, where any plans to move to permanent homes or move back with their birth parents, were unable to progress due to the restrictions on social care services, hearings, and court visitations.

This has sadly created ongoing delays as courts struggle to keep up with the backlog and social workers struggle with keeping up with the demand for updated assessments.

Impact on foster care

Not only did the pandemic see a rise in the number of vulnerable children needing safe and secure homes, but also a concern about a reduction in child protection reports. This was due to social distancing and schools being closed, meaning the children were no longer meeting with the care professionals and social workers who would normally raise any concerns.

Vulnerability factors for families and children in the system increased and the resources that support these families have also taken a huge hit as the impact of the pandemic continues to develop for those who had existing adversities - such as being in the foster care system - before Covid-19.

The bottom line is the impact of the pandemic on foster care in Scotland has been hugely significant for children needing safe and secure homes before, during, and after lockdown ended, and the impact on the cared-for children themselves is likely to be long-term as the demand for services and secure foster homes continues to increase in the pandemic’s aftermath.

Start making a difference today

In Scotland, we are still seeing the aftershock of the pandemic in the fostering system. There is a constant need for new foster carers, now more than ever before thanks to the knock-on effect the pandemic brought with it, and more will be needed over the coming years to help support not only the children currently in care but those, unfortunately, coming into it.

But you can make a huge difference. If you are keen to learn more about fostering, including fostering allowances and how you could give a safe and secure home to a vulnerable child, then we would love to hear from you.

Get in touch today and have a chat with our friendly team about the different types of fostering, and whether you could start making a difference in a child or young person’s life today.

Are you thinking of fostering?

Download the FCA’s complete beginner’s guide to fostering a child. Find out more on how to foster a child and the process involved.

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