12 July 2016
BETTER SUPPORT is needed for foster carers facing allegations regarding children in their care, while fostering services should provide a higher quality of training around the causes and impacts of allegations. These were two of the conclusions from the Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education outlined in a report on the impacts of unproven allegations against foster carers. Four in ten foster carers did not receive independent support following an allegation, the authors found.
Combining data and case studies the report suggests that 3 in 20 fostering households may stop fostering following an unproven allegation and the impacts more generally can be devastating – leading in some cases to the break-up of fostering families, financial hardship and huge emotional distress. The definition of “allegation” needs to be tightened so that it does not overlap with “standard of care” concerns and the standard of training and support provided by fostering services around the issue of allegations should be monitored by Ofsted, it adds.
MANY LOOKED after children do not feel involved in their own care, according to Not Seen, Not Heard – the Care Quality Commission’s review of the arrangements for child safeguarding and health care for looked after children in England. The CQC said that most areas they visited during their inspections over the last two years were unable to show how they were making a difference to the lives of young people, although it also gave examples of outstanding interventions in some areas. The CQC also flagged up a serious concern about the continued variability in the standard of reporting, information sharing and responding to child protection concerns among health agencies.
DIRECTORS OF children’s services are urging the government to curb the practice of some fostering agencies offering carers a ‘Golden Hello’ to move from a local authority to a private fostering agency, Community Care reported from the annual conference of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services. The ADCS president Dave Hill said directors were increasingly concerned that fostering agencies were offering carers up to £3,000 to “jump ship” from local authority services before selling back the carers’ services to the councils at an inflated rate.
AT THE same conference children’s minister Edward Timpson announced a national “stock-take” of foster care, reported Children & Young People Now. This will look at issues such as how placements are made, the skills and expertise that foster carers require and the possibility of regional commissioning for fostering services, the minister said.
The announcement follows the release of Sir Martin Narey’s review of residential children’s care in which he calls for a “fundamental review of foster care”. While gathering evidence Sir Martin encountered “concern… about an increasing dislocation between the types of foster carer generally recruited and the needs of children needing to be fostered”.
Sir Martin also named the “No Wrong Door” initiative in North Yorkshire as an example of how “residential care can sometimes be used to make fostering a success, even when it might have failed previously”.
He explained: “Two children’s homes in this geographically vast county act as hubs. Each hub provides placements in mainstream residential care; emergency beds; community foster family placements; supported accommodation and supported lodgings with outreach support. Children often move from one type of placement to another, but the key element… is ensuring that each adolescent has one key worker who works with him or her throughout.” The goal is always for a child to be fostered and the No Wrong Door approach states that: “It is not acceptable to say there are some young people who cannot live in a family placement… for some, we simply haven’t found the right approach, carer or mechanism to achieve this.”
EXAMPLES OF how schools in Wales are raising the aspirations of children in care can be found in a report by Estyn, the Welsh educational standards inspectorate. The Fostering Network voiced its concern over the “continuing wide achievement gap between looked after children and other pupils” in its response to the report adding: “We also call for a recognition of the role of foster carers as first educators, and for foster carers to be seen as a professional equals in the team around the child. Foster carers must be key partners in the team that works together to secure the best possible outcomes for a child in care.”
MEANWHILE FORMER Tory leader hopeful Andrea Leadsom caused furore amongst some fostering professionals after she was reported in The Times as saying that having her own children gave her a greater stake in the future of the country. Jamie Kinlochan, campaign and communications manager at the Who Cares Trust tweeted: “The next Prime Minister will have kids. There’s 69,540 children in care in England and she’ll be responsible for every single one of them.”
AND FINALLY The Guardian features Madlug, a company founded by youth worker and former foster carer Dave Linton, which manufacturers rucksacks. For each one sold Madlug donates a bag to a child in care and wants to see no child leaving care move their belongings in bin bags.