Fostering requires radical reform if the struggling system is to cope with pressure from rising numbers of children coming into care, 13 children's charities are warning this week, with the launch of a major new campaign.
In an open letter to children's minister Ed Balls, the charities said: "The care system is under pressure. Increasing numbers of children with complex and challenging needs require the stability and security that good foster care can provide.
"But the reality is that despite improvements the system is struggling to cope. Children in care still move too frequently, leave too early and too often fail to get the help they need to achieve their potential. This cannot be allowed to continue.
"It's time to recognise and value the difference good foster care makes to children's lives. To achieve this foster carers must be recognised as a crucial part of the child care team, and must be properly paid and supported."
The letter was signed by the chief executives of the Fostering Network, Action for Children, BAAF, Catch 22, Children England, The Children's Society, The Frank Buttle Trust, A National Voice, NCB, NSPCC, TACT, Voice and The Who Cares? Trust. The leading charities have come together to mark the launch of Together for Change, a new campaign from the Fostering Network.
Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, commented: "When foster care works it works really well, providing children with stability, security and a positive experience of family life. But we know that for too many fostered children and too many foster families this is not the case - the system is letting them down.
"Recent high-profile stories have highlighted the pressure the care system is under and the need for reform. With almost three-quarters of children in care rightly living with foster families, improving outcomes for children in care means improving foster care, and that's why we are launching this major new campaign.
"Through Together for Change we want to see foster care work for every fostered child and every foster family."