Portsmouth foster carers met MP Helen Hayes as she came to the city to see the Fostering Network’s Mockingbird service in action.
Working to bring foster families together to support each other, the Mockingbird service was highlighted as an example of good practice in the recently published Independent Review of Children’s Social Care.
The MP praised the team’s work as a brilliant example of how we must support and value foster families caring for some of our most vulnerable children.
However, Labour says that data shows the number of foster carers in the south east declined by 310 last year, as the number of carers deregistering is increasing faster than the number of new families.
According to the data, the number of looked after children continues to grow, increasing 26 per cent in Portsmouth since 2012, with a 21 per cent increase nationwide.
This is rapidly outpacing the number of new foster homes which has increased just six per cent since 2012.
Ms Hayes said: ‘Foster families are crucial to ensuring every child has a stable, loving home, but across the country services are at breaking point after a decade of Conservative neglect.
‘Too often bureaucracy puts off potential foster carers whilst a lack of support means many families are choosing to deregister.
‘The Mockingbird service is a really effective example of ways in which additional support can be provided to foster families to help them sustain their vital work.
‘Labour in government transformed support for children and families, ensuring all young people were supported to thrive.
‘It’s time the Conservatives match our ambition for every child.’
Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Schools Minister, agreed that the current Conservative government has ‘created a crisis in foster care’, but praised the work of local carers: ‘The Mockingbird service in Portsmouth offers outstanding support to both children and foster families, facilitating stable and loving homes across our city.’
On Friday Mr Morgan met a range of local care providers to thank them for their efforts.
As the country marks Carers Week, the city MP paid a visit to Portsmouth Carers Centre, which provides support and advice to local caregivers.
He met with those taking part in the centre’s ‘Chop Cook Chat’ sessions - a cookery group for those who are either carers or at risk of social isolation.
Mr Morgan also met with Portsmouth Alzheimer’s society, to discuss its experiences of the social care system and how it could be improved, particularly regarding the social care workforce.
He said: ‘On Carers Week it’s important we recognise and thank our carers for the incredible work they do to support our most vulnerable.
‘Many carers are still struggling with the ongoing impact of the pandemic.
‘It is clear from the continued strain on social care services, many of which remain unavailable to carers, combined with the current cost of living crisis, have left carers urgently needing more support.
‘I will continue to speak up for the thousands of people providing unpaid care in Portsmouth and across Britain, and push government to urgently fix our social care system as we emerge from the pandemic.’