Polling drama

In the News Round-up this week: General Election result casts fostering policy upheaval into doubt; Final hurdle cleared for NFA takeover of Acorn; Foster Carers support trauma systems therapy project

Election result casts uncertainty over fostering policy upheaval

Last week’s general election result has thrown political debate around fostering into turmoil after two key figures lost their seats. Former children’s minister Edward Timpson who launched the government’s fostering stocktake last year (TWiF April 27) lost his Crewe and Nantwich seat by just 48 votes. Meanwhile the chair of the education select committee Neil Carmichael was overthrown in his Stroud constituency losing to Labour’s David Drew.

Having been part of a foster family himself Edward Timpson was seen as having a greater awareness and understanding around fostering issues than many of his fellow MPs. Meanwhile, as chair of the education select committee until parliament was dissolved Neil Carmichael was leading the committee’s cross-party inquiry into fostering (TWiF 2 February). At the committee’s final sitting Carmichael indicated that the inquiry report on fostering would be delayed until the autumn after the general election was called (TWiF 20 April). With the select committee’s new chair yet to be nominated, the report’s publication looks to be delayed further.

While the future of the fostering inquiry is uncertain, the department of education’s stocktake into fostering is continuing with responses officially being sought until the end of a formal two-month consultation process tomorrow. However Sir Martin Narey, one of the two chairs tweeted this week, “Don’t worry about the formal deadline. We’ll continue to read everything for sometime yet.” Narey also tweeted that with a week to go he had received responses from 52 foster carers, but only five social workers and promised to “reply personally” to those contacting him via sirmartinnarey@gmail.com.

As one of two new junior education ministers in Theresa May’s new government, Whitby and Scarborough MP Robert Goodwill has been tipped as the new children’s minister. At the time of publication the government website and Robert Goodwill’s own site are yet to specify his role although it has been widely accepted that he will take on Timpson’s former portfolio. Guildford MP Anne Milton has been named as the other junior education minister expected to have responsibility for apprenticeships and further education.

Robert Goodwill previously served in Theresa May’s government as immigration minister. He also announced in February the government’s decision to end a scheme to accept lone child refugees under the so-called Dubs scheme, blaming a shortage in available local authority placements (TWiF 16 February).  In April he was forced to admit that the Government had got its sums wrong after it found an additional 130 places were available for unaccompanied children fleeing conflicts under the scheme. Previously the Government had said that only 350 places had been made available by local authorities to accept refugee children.

Final hurdle cleared for NFA takeover of Acorn

The day after the General Election result saw the final hurdle cleared for the National Fostering Agency’s acquisition of Acorn Care that will require many Acorn foster carers to be “divested” to new companies while others will be transferred to the NFA. The Competition and Markets Authority had called in the merger over concerns that it would significantly lessen competition in local authority framework agreements in Wales, Norfolk and Luton. However it has now accepted the NFA’s undertakings and confirmed it will not take its investigation to the next stage.

Read more on our Facebook page

This Week in Fostering’s Facebook page features some really interesting examples of great practice around fostering. This week we wrote a post featuring a really interesting study from America about the involvement of foster carers in a successful project around trauma systems therapy. We also featured a blog from East Sussex’s principal social worker showcasing one parent’s positive experience of FDAC – the problem solving court.

Please do comment, share or like – or add some examples of your own.

Image courtesy of Pixabay used under Creative Commons.

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