New approaches and an old regime

15 November 2016

A RADICAL new method of financing and managing fostering and other placements for children in care has been outlined in a newly publicised paper from Kathy Evans the chief executive of Children England. Unlike adoption there is no national system for placing children in care within the right family or residential setting Evans says. Her proposed ‘Children’s Care Bank’ would be financed through tax income – so that local authorities would no longer be responsible for paying the costs of care at all, leaving them to focus on meeting the child’s needs as their ‘corporate parent’.

The new approach would place the child at the heart of the process, Evans says. “The Care Bank would, essentially, be the child’s financial backer enabling them to act as a more empowered ‘consumer’ of their own care experience – if the child doesn’t like their placement, or doesn’t want to leave it when a change is proposed, they can appeal to the Care Bank to stop / continue funding it until they feel they have been heard,” Evans writes.

The publication of Evans’ paper follows the launch of a new national commissioning tool for foster care and residential places by Link Maker at the start of the month. Evans’ paper has already met a response from Harvey Gallagher, chief executive of the Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers who asks, “How could the Care Bank ensure it wasn’t just writing a ‘blank cheque’ to providers?” He concludes: “The key for me is properly capturing, storing and reporting on social worker assessments of children in care and the findings of their annual reviews. That is surely the baseline data for understanding if a placement is meeting a child’s needs.”

TRAINER AND parenting expert Jane Evans lamented as “shocking, unacceptable and morally wrong” a continuing lack of awareness among some professionals working with children about “easily accessible neuroscience”. She refers to a policy at the Magna Academy in Poole where headteacher Richard Tutt is proposing to put pupils who are at permanent risk of exclusion in front of the school assembly to apologise to classmates. “As the Head of any Academy, Tutt should feel an obligation to be fully educated in the up to date research and STOP using antiquated, ineffective, ‘behaviourist’, behaviour management policies and strategies,” Evans says recommending the head some reading to help him.

THE SCOTTISH government is “abdicating its responsibility as a corporate parent” by failing to set minimum allowances for foster carers in Scotland writes Fostering Network chief executive Kevin Williams. Unlike Wales and England Scotland has no minimum rates for allowances paid to foster carers resulting in some carers receiving as little as £77 a week to cover all costs of caring for a child.

CHILDREN WHO experience home raids by the police resulting in the arrest of a parent are likely to remain traumatised by the incident and develop a negative view of the police according to a paper by Jo Tilley Riley produced under the Clore Social Leadership scheme. The scale of the issue is not fully understood however, as most police forces fail to collect data on the ages of other people present at raids, she says.

ALFONSO MONTERO, policy director of the European Social Network, reminds us of some good practice on supporting care leavers from other European countries including help to find accommodation, work and to get support to continue in education. Possibly the most comprehensive model is offered by Catalonia’s regional government, he says (link in the article). “The need for young people to have an appointed professional to bring all this together is a common denominator across these programmes,” he says.

AND FINALLY the government has unveiled guidelines on how to apply for funding under the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme which aims to test new ways of supporting care leavers, children in care and preventing children coming under child protection schemes. The programme has recently funded a pilot into the Mockingbird family model of foster care and also tested the idea of children and their foster carers sharing a social worker.

For updates, links to stories of interest, opinion and comment, head for This Week in Fostering’s Facebook page, and ‘like’ it to get notifications of new content. Don’t forget to follow @TWiFostering on Twitter too.

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