Fostering Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

Introduction

1.The Government must ensure that its review of the foster care system is considered in the context of the wider children’s social care landscape. The value of the work the Government has undertaken so far on different forms of care will be undermined if they are not viewed and considered as part of a whole, interlinked system. The Government should conduct a fundamental review of the whole care system, recognising the relationships between different types of care, addressing wider underpinning issues, and ensuring that the care system is fulfilling its purpose. (Paragraph 9)

Valuing young people

2.We welcome the Government’s recent commitment to extend the entitlement to the additional 15 hours of free childcare to children in foster care, so that all young people are able to benefit from the same opportunities. We urge the Government to look carefully at how children in foster care getting this extra childcare will access the highest quality childcare. (Paragraph 29)

3.Staying Put will not be the right option for every young person leaving care. But at the moment, too many are missing out on the opportunity to take advantage of this welcome programme. Funding and promotion of Staying Put must be improved so that all young people who wish to remain with their carers are enabled to do so. Other young people, who may wish to live independently but maintain contact with their former carers, must similarly be empowered to do so. (Paragraph 46)

4.We hope that the Government’s review focuses on this issue, and recommend that the Government takes action to ensure consistency of practice and application of guidance with regards to:

Valuing foster carers

5.The Government must:

6.We consider it unsatisfactory that foster carers are subject to the responsibilities of self-employed status without the benefits. In light of the recommendations of the Work and Pensions and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committees, the Government must state whether self-employment is the appropriate employment status for foster carers. (Paragraph 60)

7.We do not believe that foster carers should be officially classified as ‘professionals’. However, it must be universally recognised and understood that they are the experts with regards to the life and care of their child, and they must be afforded the same respect and professional courtesies as would be extended to a birth parent or any other care professional involved in the care of looked-after children. (Paragraph 71)

8.We appreciate that initial training cannot be comprehensive, and that many things can only be learned on the job. However, there is a great need for more ongoing training and development for foster carers. We recommend that the Government works with experts and organisations in the sector to develop high-quality training resources for foster carers, and make them available nationwide. (Paragraph 75)

9.The Government should bring forward legislative proposals to extend the scope of the Public Interest Disclosure Act to cover foster carers, so that they are protected during proceedings or when raising concerns of their own, and safeguarded from the consequences of malicious or unfounded accusations. (Paragraph 79)

10.We recommend that the Government develops and consults widely, including with foster carers, on proposals for a national college for foster carers. For a college to be truly national and accessible, it should be a virtual association, which works to represent foster carers, share knowledge and resources, and bring greater prestige to the role of foster carers. (Paragraph 88)

Valuing care

11.Capacity in the foster care system must be increased. There must be a range of placements options for young people requiring foster care so that they can be assured of the best and most appropriate home. (Paragraph 101)

12.The Government’s approach to dealing with capacity issues must not only focus on increasing capacity but also look to support children and families before they reach crisis point and need to enter the care system. The Government must be proactive, and focus more energy and resources on early intervention. More support must be given to children and families when they first need help so that, where possible and appropriate to do so, they are enabled to stay together. (Paragraph 102)

13.The Government should establish a national recruitment and awareness campaign for foster carers. This should:

14.The quality of foster care provision must always be paramount. We are concerned by the extent to which commissioning and placement decisions are made on the basis of cost. The Government must provide local authorities with the resources they need to ensure financial concerns do not take precedence over the needs of the child. The Government should also require standardised cost analyses of local authority and IFA placements. (Paragraph 124)

15.Given the well-evidenced improvements made in areas with access to the Innovation Programme, we recommend that the Government extend the time period and at least double the funding given to the Programme, so that more children and young people are able to benefit from early intervention and improved services. (Paragraph 131)

16.Local authorities’ children’s services need to improve. While funding and resourcing will always be an issue, particularly with an increasing number of children in care, we welcome attempts to innovate and find new, efficient and effective ways of working. However, it is vital that change is not imposed for change’s sake, or before internal improvements can take effect. We recommend that the Government place a greater emphasis on providing support and guidance when considering intervention. (Paragraph 146)





21 December 2017