The package, worth £750,000 in total, will be used to develop three partnerships between local authorities and independent fostering services to explore new ways to recruit and retain a wider group of foster carers – including working professionals and those with the skills and experience to care for children with more complex needs.
Intervention programmes for looked-after children and those on the edge of care and custody and their families will also be developed.
The Fostering Network will work with local authorities to boost recruitment by sharing good practice, thanks to a two-year grant worth £250,000.
Speaking at the National Fostering Agency’s annual conference, Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson, said: “Growing up with over eighty foster brothers and sisters, I know from my own experience that foster care can provide an incredibly valuable opportunity for children to experience stable family life.
“Fundamental to this challenge is the successful recruitment and retention of carers – in particular, those capable of caring for sibling groups and children with complex needs. We know that three quarters of children in care are fostered, and that some local authorities need more help to get this right."
Research published earlier this month suggests that more than half a million people consider fostering, but are put off because of the myths about the process and confusion about what fostering involves, and whether they are eligible to foster.
While the number of foster carers is increasing, with more than 67,000 children in care last year, the government wants to encourage a wider range of people to come forward to foster.
Government plans due to be implemented this summer will introduce a fast-track process for foster carers that want to adopt, give foster carers greater powers to make day-to-day decisions about the children they care for, and make the foster carer assessment process clearer.