2 March 2017: News round-up
THE TREATMENT of local authority fostering as the “Cinderella service” within children’s social care will pave the way for a continued expansion of independent fostering agencies, TACT chief executive Andy Elvin told MPs within the Education Select Committee. Speaking at the Committee’s second oral session held as part of its fostering inquiry, Elvin said that all of a local authority’s focus is understandably on child protection “because it has to be”. Foster care by contrast may not be optimal but “it is rarely dangerous” and unlikely to cost someone their job or cause a council member to resign. Sometimes no-one in a senior position in the council has a full understanding of the issues in fostering as people tend to come to management via the child protection route, he said. “You then end up with fostering services and foster carers that are not supported as they might be – and that has really led to the growth of the independent fostering sector,” he concluded. He also said that eight or nine local authorities had approached him about running a service similar to that which is about to start in Peterborough, where TACT is to take over the fostering and adoption service in its entirety. You can see the entire evidence session via Parliament TV.
IN OTHER news, the findings of the Child Welfare Inequalities Project was widely covered by media including the BBC and Community Care and attracted comments from organisations including the Fostering Network and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services. The study, led by Coventry University, found that a child in the poorest area of the UK was ten times more likely to be in care or on a child protection plan than a child in the most affluent area of the country. And around one in 60 children is in care in England’s most deprived neighbourhoods, compared with one in 660 in the least deprived area. But the disparity could be even higher due to what researchers call the inverse intervention law (TWiF 8 November 2016).
APPLICATIONS TO become foster carers may have dropped by a third in the year 2015 to 16 compared with the previous year, according to the government’s latest annual statistics on fostering. The drop to 11,460 in applications could partially explained by the fact that almost one quarter of agencies did not submit data about their prospective households. And while the total number of children in care increased by 1% from 2015 to 2016, the number of looked after unaccompanied asylum seeking children increased by 54% to 4,210 children at 31 March 2016, according to data on children in care.
AND FINALLY the National Children’s Bureau is calling for information on how organisations elicit views from children in care and care-leavers as part of the Children’s Commissioner’s forthcoming “State of the Nation” report on children in care and care-leavers.
Picture by Jamie Street