Letter: Forgotten carers

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article 'State is a failure in loco parentis' (13 November) drew attention to the shortcomings of state child care, and in particular residential care. But the poor conditions, inadequate training and low public recognition which are the lot of staff of children's homes apply equally to Britain's 30,000 foster families.

Foster carers look after two out of three children in state care. The vast majority of these families are volunteers - receiving allowances only to cover the child's costs, and often continuing to support young people well into adulthood from their own funds. It is not helpful to castigate residential workers while ignoring the strengths and weaknesses of foster care.

Foster carers do not want to see young people 'dispatched (from care) too young . . . with few life skills, little support and just a few pounds in their pocket', because this merely restarts the cycle of deprivation. What they and we do want to see is proper recognition for foster carers who give young people those life skills, help them to mend the cracks in relationships with their own families, and encourage them to move to independent living.

Yours faithfully,

MARION I. LOVE

Director

National Foster Care Association

London, SE1

15 November

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