Under the policy, three- and four-year-olds in families where all parents work are entitled to the 30 hours, but children in foster care are exempt.
In an open letter, published in the Guardian, a group of 13 charities concerned with children’s welfare argue that fostered children have been ‘explicitly and inexplicably excluded’ from the policy, and call on the children and families minister Robert Goodwill to reverse the ‘discriminatory decision with immediate effect’.
They go on to say, ‘Fostered children must have access to the same opportunities as other children.
‘Moreover, foster carers are, as a group, unpaid or underpaid and often cannot rely on their fostering income. They may therefore benefit from this extra childcare, especially those who foster members of their family and provide long-term care.’
Spokespeople from the following charities have come together to write the letter:
- Action for Children
- Become – the charity for children in care and young care leavers
- British Association of Social Workers
- The Care Leavers’ Association
- Children England
- Coram BAAF (adoption and fostering academy)
- Coram Voice
- The Fostering Network
- National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers
- National Youth Advocacy Service
- Tact (a fostering and adoption charity)
- The Together Trust (a charity which supports vulnerable young people and adults)
- St Christopher’s (a charity to support children and young people.
Children and Families Minister Robert Goodwill said, 'Foster carers play a vital role in supporting some of our most vulnerable children and it’s vital that they are given effective support.
'That’s why children in foster care are already entitled to the universal 15 hours free childcare and also receive funding and support for the care of their foster child, including a national minimum allowance, and favourable treatment in the tax and benefits system.
'We are in the first term of the 30 hours free childcare offer and we will continue to keep the policy and how it works for families, including those fostering, under review.'