“Private equity firms buying up small agencies have “set off alarm bells” within England’s foster care system, the Local Government Association says.
Three groups account for 45% of funds spent on independent fostering by English councils, according to new analysis.
The LGA said councils worry about what could happen if one group failed.
The Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers said its members provided a vital and high quality service.
More than 75,000 children are in care in England, compared with about 60,000 a decade ago. Most of these children are in foster care.
Councils manage foster placements themselves as well as commissioning care from independent fostering agencies.
Many of these providers started as local, small-scale operations but private equity firms – essentially, investment companies – have moved into the sector in recent years.
The National Fostering Agency, Compass Fostering and Foster Care Associates are now the dominant independent groups in the industry.
All three run for profit and are backed by private equity. …”