5 July 2016: News round-up
THE GOVERNMENT is to develop a ‘staying close’ policy for children in residential care which will enable them to live near, maintain ties and receive support from their former residential home until they are 21, children’s minister Edward Timpson announced this week. The move coincides with the release of a major report into residential children’s care from independent government adviser Sir Martin Narey which listed a staying close policy as one of its 34 recommendations. This will bring the support for children in residential care more into line with those in foster care who can stay in placement until they are 21. The report also calls for a long overdue review of fostering and TWiF will bring you further details in next Tuesday’s issue.
BARNET COUNCIL is seeking to cut the fees paid to special guardians and many of its kinship carers by a quarter in October, reports Community Care. It plans to do this by reducing the child allowance paid to all its carers – while keeping it above the government recommended minimum – and increasing the professional foster carer’s fee ensuring that its approved carers continue to be paid at the same rate. The financial support paid to children of special guardians varies according to circumstances and the financial means of the guardians involved.
THE GOVERNMENT has launched its national transfer scheme for unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC). Under the scheme a child arriving in one local authority area already under strain caring for UASC may be transferred to another council with capacity, to ensure a more even spread of caring responsibilities across the country. According to family lawyer Marilyn Stowe, this responsibility will be limited to 0.07 per cent of the under-18 population in their area. Meanwhile The Guardian reports on the plight of the 600 children living in the Calais refugee camp – half of whom are living on their own.
LOCAL COUNCILS are urging people to notify them of private fostering arrangements as part of Private Fostering Week (4 – 11 July) to avoid children falling under the radar and being exposed to neglect or abuse. Kent County Council cites figures suggesting up to 20,000 children are living in private foster care – where a child under 16 or under 18 with disabilities lives with someone who is not a close relative for more than 28 consecutive days.
THE NATIONAL children’s charity NCB is inviting foster carers to feed back via an online survey by 8th July on their experience of reading with their foster children. The charity hopes to identify areas where it can provide further support.
THE HOUSE of Lords debated the Children and Social Work Bill discussing the current lack of parity of provision for UASC, mental health, personal advisers and the variability of training amongst others. Labour peer Lord Watson commented generally on the standing of foster care within the government’s pro-adoption agenda: “From the Prime Minister down, Ministers have made things harder for foster carers, by doing down their role and contrasting it unfavourably with adoption. I believe that the Government should be setting out a reform programme which takes a long-term, holistic view of the entire care system and ensures that adequate support is provided to every child. This Bill could have done that but fails to do so.”
FOSTER CARERS are more likely to experience extreme levels of stress relating to parenting than adopters or kinship carers, despite being part of the formal care system with social workers to support them, a blog on the care pathways and outcomes study reminds us. Having to manage contact with birth families, risk of placement disruption, threat of allegations and social work involvement are all factors that can add to the stress of fostering, the blog suggests. The study has been tracking 374 children in Northern Ireland who were in care and under-5 in 2000.