27 September 2016
TACT, THE UK’s largest fostering and adoption agency has been awarded a contract to run Peterborough Council’s fostering and adoption service under a ten-year contract, worth over £126 million approved by the city’s councillors yesterday. The agency was chosen following a competitive tendering process that involved both foster carers and children under the council’s care in the assessment panel. The council believes that the contract will see an increase in fostering recruitment and services for children in care as well as a cut in costs.
MEANWHILE THE Competition and Markets Authority has launched an investigation into the sale of Acorn Care and Education to SSCP Spring Topco Limited,which owns the National Fostering Agency (TWiF 19 July). The CMA says it has reasonable grounds to suspect that the sale will effectively result in a merger of the two organisations which “may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition in any market or markets in the United Kingdom”.
Acorn owns four fostering agencies: Fostering Solutions, Pathway Care Fostering, Swan and Heath Farm Fostering – the last of the four is a partner in the Fostering Network’s Mockingbird Family Model pilot programme. It was bought in 2010 by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. According to Corporate Watch the National Fostering Agency made £94.5m in income from foster care and paid out £14.4m to owners. By way of contrast The Foster Care Co-operative publicised details of their presentation to the IFCO conference about the “co-operative approach to fostering” with “all profit re-distributed back in to the agency”.
The CMA announcement came just a few days before a group of foster carers voted to form a union to defend their employment and legal rights (TWiF 20 September). The move and the unpredictability of fostering were explored this week by Martin Barrow while a few days previously the Guardian had published a piece by independent reviewing officer Hilary Alexander exploring examples of what many foster carers deal with that the public know little about. “I am still taken aback by these people who take children and young people into their homes in the hope they can make a difference to their lives,” she said. “Without foster carers, what would happen to our most fragile children and young people? The general public needs to know what carers do.”
ELSEWHERE FAMILY Law reported that mothers who were reunited with their children after care proceedings in the Family Drug and Alcohol Court are more likely to stay off drugs and alcohol for longer compared with cases heard under ordinary care proceedings. As a result the FDAC has cut the number of children taken into care because of parental substance misuse compared with those in ordinary care proceedings. The news follows Family Division president Sir James Munby’s warning of a “looming care system crisis” reported in CYP Now, with care cases topping 1,254 in August – up 34% over the previous year according to CAFCASS.
AND FINALLY the Food in Care website is offering fostering professionals resources to support them in a range of food behaviour challenges that they may face with children in their care. The online resources have been developed with experienced foster carers and include guidance on the principles of healthy eating, eating disorders and hoarding.