As a leading children’s rights charity and provider of advocacy services to vulnerable children, young people and adults, NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service) has provided support to many foster children and their families.

This has led our team to develop a deep understanding of the foster care experience and the disruption that moving from family to family and shifting from one home to another can bring if not handled correctly.

Our mission to promote more positive outcomes for care experienced children and young people has seen us put our weight behind lobbying efforts to call for foster care law reform in the past. We were one of several organisations that pushed for foster children to have the right to stay with their foster carers until the age of 21, for example. And now we are giving our full support to The Fostering Network’s ‘Keep Connected’ campaign  as they call on the UK government to develop guidance and regulations to help fostering services support the bond between foster carer and child as they move to another home.

The Keep Connected campaign is intended as a catalyst for transition planning change so that unless there is  a reason not to, children are supported to maintain contact with the important people in their lives after they move. Informed by a research programme that surveyed children in foster care and foster carers, the campaign aims to address the wide-scale issue of foster families and young people losing the valuable relationships they have forged when the young people move on to a new home.

In its research summary, The Fostering Network states, “The overwhelming majority of children and young people who responded to our survey placed a high value on being able to stay in contact with a former foster carer. Likewise, foster carers recognised the importance of continuing to support that young person when they moved on. It seems extraordinary that the importance of these relationships is not being recognised…”

The heart of the new Keep Connected campaign is a set of seven principles developed in consultation with foster carers, fostering services and organisations in the care sector, including those working with young people, to shape how transitions from and within the care system are approached across the UK. Aimed at creating an environment that enables all children and young people who are moving on from foster families to keep in touch with them, and with any other significant people, the campaign and its underlying principles are designed to promote better awareness, planning and support.

Having established its Keep Connected principles, The Fostering Network is now calling for support and donations, to enable it  to produce guidance for social work professionals and adopters, work with more fostering services to improve practice, and support young people to ensure their views are heard. At NYAS, we are committed to providing a voice for vulnerable young people, and so we applaud the Keep Connected campaign. We hope that many others in the sector will join us in supporting calls for government guidance and regulations to protect and give rightful recognition to the bond between foster carer and foster child.

For more information about the campaign Keeping Connected please click here