23 March 2017: News Round-up
TACT, THE UK’s largest fostering and adoption charity was offered the opportunity to “buy” foster carers at Acorn Care and Education for between £10m and £20m it emerged last week. TACT revealed the offer after CYP Now reported that Acorn agreed last month to divest itself of certain fostering operations in order to allow a merger with the National Fostering Agency to go ahead (TWiF 23 February 2017). TACT noted that it was “depressing enough that foster carers can be bought & sold” adding later that since charities and local authorities can’t and won’t purchase carers, “This means that either an existing large commercial will “buy” these carers or a new venture capital firm will,” it tweeted. The Competition and Markets Authority which called in the proposed merger for investigation has set an initial deadline of 10 April to decide whether to accept the terms of any proposed divestment, but is minded to accept the proposal.
LIFELONG LINKS, a project to create support networks for young people in care entering adulthood, that could include former foster carers, is one of the new projects to be financed through the latest wave of the government’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme. Run by the Family Rights Group, the scheme will involve seven local authorities in England and will be aimed at under 16 year olds who have been in care for less than two years and for whom there is no plan for them to live within their family or be adopted. “The Government has recognised that the biggest issue for care leavers is one of isolation and loneliness; and the difficulty of navigating their way through their late teens and early twenties without a strong and stable social network to support them,” the FRG said. “Lifelong Links aims to ensure those social networks can be available for the child in care, providing stability to their care experience and support through the transition into independent living and beyond.” The Fostering Network’s Mockingbird Family Model (TWiF 8 November 2016) and the Pause Project (TWiF 25 October 2016) are among the existing projects receiving funding to continue.
MEANWHILE TRAUMA, resilience and recovery trainer Lisa Cherry has reignited concerns over the use of bin bags to carry the belongings of children in care when they move to a new home, a practice which was widely thought to have been stamped out a number of years ago. “I’ve become increasingly concerned about the number of stories I’m hearing about looked after children being moved around with their belongings in bin bags,” she said via a Linked In post which received dozens of responses including examples of where the practice was still widespread. “We had a huge campaign about this in the late 90’s/early noughties. It seems to have slipped back into practice.”
THERE ARE still cases where children do not understand why they are looked after by the local authority, while many more are not routinely involved in decisions about their care, a report commissioned by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Children said last week. The findings were part of the “No Good Options” report into children’s social care, published by the National Children’s Bureau which found widely varying approaches towards child protection in different parts of the country. Because local authorities are focussing their limited resources on meeting statutory obligations, resources for children in need and early intervention programmes were dwindling, the APPG said. New investment is needed to help children before they reach crisis point, it concluded.
AND FINALLY anti smoking charity ASH Scotland argues that smokers should not be excluded as potential foster carers in a statement published this week which it says is aimed at promoting discussion. Instead the focus should be on encouraging people to have smoke-free homes. Someone who smokes is “as likely to be a good and suitable carer as anyone else, and should not be excluded simply because they smoke”, said the organisation’s chief executive Sheila Duffy. ASH Scotland has also published a viewpoint paper on supporting young people in care to live in a smoke free environment, noting that in some areas of the country nearly half of children who are in care smoke.
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