Today’s publication of the Department for Education (DFE) annual statistics for children in care showed that the use of Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs) in England has risen 20.2 per cent from 2770 to 3330. Between 2010 and 2014 the figure has increased 158 per cent (in 2010 there were 1290 SGOs).
SGOs are court orders made for children who cannot live at home, which allow the child to live permanently with the guardian. TACT has been a strong supporter of the use of SGOs which can give children who have been in care the security and stability they need to thrive. Once an SGO is made the child will no longer be looked after. However, this sharp rise might indicate that the use of orders is extending beyond the original intentions.
TACT CEO Andy Elvin said;
“SGOs were introduced to allow young people stability and permanence. We are, however, worried that this dramatic rise indicates that they are being increasingly used inappropriately. TACT is aware of foster carers being asked to consider special guardianship shortly after a placement is made, or placements being made only on condition that an SGO is part of the care plan. SGOs should only be considered when the time is right for carers and the young person.”
The statistics also show an increase of 26 per cent to 5050 in the number of children adopted (2013: 4010). However, this growth is almost entirely due to the numbers of one to four year olds adopted (76 per cent of all adoptions). Numbers for children older than this have remained static. This demonstrates that the government’s adoption reforms are having an impact, but only for younger children.
TACT is concerned that 38 per cent of care leavers are not in education, training or employment (NEET). This underlines the importance of the recently introduced staying put scheme, allowing care leavers to remain with their former foster carers until they are 21.
TACT is the UK’s largest charity specialist provider of fostering and adoption services. Our core work involves providing high quality and well supported fostering or adoptive families for children and young people in the care of local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland. We have approximately 650 children placed with our foster carers and find new adoptive families for approximately 20 children every year.
A Special Guardianship Order is an order made by the court under the Adoption and Children Act 2002. It enables a child or a young person to live with someone permanently and gives legal status for non parents who wish to care for that child or young person in a long term secure placement. Parental responsibility is shared between the special guardian and the birth parent.
Today’s figures show the number of children in care in England overall rose one per cent since 2013 to 68840.
All figures are as at 31 March 2014.
Further information For further information contact Gareth Crossman, TACT Executive Director of Policy, Communications and Fundraising 07976 389 925 or 020 8695 8120.
The Department for Education (DfE) has published a guide for local authorities completing the 2015-2016 private fostering data return.
A privately fostered child is defined as being under the age of 16 (18 if disabled) and cared for by someone other than a parent or close relative, as defined by Children Act 1989, s 105. Private foster carers may be from an extended family, such as a cousin or great uncle. They may be a friend of the family, or other non-relative, or someone unknown who has advertised to offer to privately foster a child. A child is not privately fostered if the person caring for him or her has done so for fewer than 28 days and does not intend to do so for longer than that. Privately fostered children are a diverse and potentially vulnerable group. Groups of privately fostered children include children sent from abroad to stay with another family.
The guide has been created to help local authorities complete the 2015 to 2016 private fostering data return (also known as the PF1 return).
The PF1 statistical return was introduced from 1 April 2004 and is designed to collect information on the number of children reported to be in private fostering arrangements in England. This is the 12th year of collection. PF1 data is submitted electronically by local authorities (LAs), using the DfE's secure IT system - COLLECT.
A PF1 return is required from all local authorities in England, even those who have no children reported to be under private fostering arrangements. All completed PF1 returns should be returned to the DfE by Tuesday 31 May 2016. There have been no changes since the 2014 to 2015 collection.
Click here to read the full guide.
Across the UK, there is a shortage of fosters carers to look after children and young people who are in need of a loving home. At TACT, we’re always looking for people to come forward and take the first step on the road to becoming a foster carer.
People often ask themselves 'have I got what it takes to be a foster carer' and 'how do I become a foster carer'. It's true that being a foster carer can be challenging at times, but our carers tell us it's the most rewarding thing they have ever done. And at TACT, we're here every step of the way with support, training and a friendly ear whenever you need it.
So, what do you need to make a great foster carer? Let’s find out…
The UK’s largest specialist fostering and adoption charity TACT (The Adolescent and Children’s Trust) has appointed a new CEO, Andy Elvin. Andy will start in his post on Monday 15 September.
Andy arrives at TACT having previously been the CEO of Children and Families Across Borders (CFAB) since 2009. At CFAB Andy increased their local authority business and income by over 300 per cent and established CFAB as the acknowledged expert in cross border child protection and child welfare cases. He sat on a number of working groups set up by the Department for Education and the Home Office covering issues such as child detention in immigration, child trafficking and child abuse.
A social worker by background, Andy has worked at a number of local authorities, where he gained extensive experience working with looked after children, including those placed for adoption. Andy is also a founding board member of Frontline Social Work, which is dedicated to recruiting and developing leaders in social work.
TACT CEO Andy Elvin said:
“I am delighted to be given this opportunity to lead an organisation with such a track record of helping children in care achieve their ambitions. Despite an ongoing challenging external environment, I’m confident TACT will continue to identify new opportunities to extend our fostering and adoption services, benefiting even more children in care. With a general election in 2015, we will also be pushing forward our campaigning agenda, placing particular focus on improving outcomes for children entering care as adolescents.”
Geoff Knox, TACT’s Chair of Trustees said:
“Andy brings a wealth of experience in the social work field, business strategy and customer development. The trustees look forward to TACT beginning the next stage of its development under the leadership of Andy and the senior management team. Andy will be joining a highly committed group of staff and foster carers, dedicated to bringing positive change to children in care across the UK.”
Read Andy Elvin’s full profile
For more information, please contact: TACT’s Executive Director of Policy, Communications and Fundraising Gareth Crossman on 07793 580 418 or 07976 389 925 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
NFS Trustee Recruitment: IT and trans specialists
The board of trustees has recently created two new trustee posts, following a skills audit. The board was aware that it needed more expert knowledge in IT and in trans issues. The board is seeking one or two people to join as trustees who have at least one of the following:
We know that there are lots of very talented members with a lot of enthusiasm and a wide variety of experience to offer NFS.
Trustee meetings are held every two months (on the second Monday of the month). All the meetings are held via conference call so you can attend from home. There are two away-days each year, which are normally held on a Saturday, when the board meets face-to-face. All expenses are paid.
You can find information from the Charities Commission about the duties and responsibilities of Trustees here. Any member who has reached at least the stage of being approved to adopt or foster and feels able to meet these duties and responsibilities is eligible to apply.
Please note that these posts are not for election. The board will co-opt the one or two people whose skills best match those needed.
Anyone putting themselves forward should apply by emailing Tor by Monday 6th October at the latest and include a brief profile detailing your background skills and experience, and a statement on what you could bring to NFS.
Please email email@example.com if you have any questions.
The Fostering Network is calling for nominations for its first annual Fostering Excellence Awards in England and Wales to be held in October.
The Fostering Excellence Awards will recognise and celebrate excellence and outstanding achievement in foster care, honour the achievements of young care leavers and acknowledge the valuable contribution that sons and daughters make to the fostering household.
There are three award categories:
Fostering Achievement Award: This is for young people who have left care in the last 12 months who have achieved and succeeded against the odds on their journey through foster care.
Outstanding Contribution to Foster Care Award: Here at The Fostering Network we are reminded every day that foster carers are all amazing people, so for this award we are looking for foster carers who have made an exceptional contribution to foster care in the last 12 months, or who have achieved something truly outstanding.
Fostering Sons and Daughters Award: This is a very special award that recognises the unsung heroes of fostering who can make a real and lasting impact on the lives of fostered young people living with their family.
We are also looking for fostering services, and individual foster carers, to nominate foster carers who have been fostering for forty years or longer (1974 or before) and who are members of The Fostering Network to receive a certificate from The Fostering Network to recognise their achievement. You can nominate foster carers who have fostered for forty years by visiting our website.
Lucy Peake, director of development at The Fostering Network, said: “These awards are a chance for the wider fostering community to come together and applaud people who show dedication and commitment and always strive to help and support others.
“It is always a difficult job highlighting just a few foster carers for recognition, but we believe that it is important to highlight the work that the wider fostering community does and the benefits that fostering can bring to young people and their foster carers. These awards are just one way that we will be doing that throughout our 40th year.”
The Outstanding Contribution to Foster Care Award is sponsored by Endsleigh.
You can find out more, and nominate people in each of the categories, on the awards page on our website.
A third of UK children (3,582) have been separated from their brothers and sisters when placed in foster care during the last financial year, we have found by a Freedom of Information request.
This rose to 45 per cent (257 children) in the East Midlands, during those 12 months.
Splitting siblings can ignite feelings of loss and abandonment which can affect emotional and mental health. They increase the risk of unstable foster placements and poor performance at school, as well as further problems in adulthood, such as difficulty finding a job, drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness or criminal activity.
In a poll we asked children who have been split up from their siblings and live in foster care about how the separation made them feel; more than half say it makes them feel upset and angry. Yet we know a third of adults in the UK are willing to foster children, with 89 per cent prepared to provide foster care to siblings.
Sir Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of Action for Children, said: “For many children, being taken into care can be a confusing and upsetting time; add the distress of being split up from your brother or sister into the mix and the impact will last a lifetime.
“Nobody wants to separate brothers and sisters, but there simply aren’t enough foster carers who can look after for siblings. By arming ourselves with a pool of dedicated people who can provide a loving and caring home to groups of children we will avoid breaking more young hearts in the future.
“We know that in some cases children can be so badly hurt by what has happened to them before going into care, including severe neglect and abuse, that they need one–to-one support. In the vast majority of cases, however, siblings benefit hugely by staying together and that's why we need more foster carers to help them."
Action for Children is looking for people with a spare room who can provide a secure and loving home to all children who have had traumatic experiences. Lots of people can foster, it doesn’t matter if you’re older, own or rent your home, whether you’re single, co-habiting or married, male or female or in a heterosexual or same sex relationship. If you would like to find out more about being a foster carer click here or call 0845 200 5162.
The Fostering Network, in partnership with Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), has issued a new position statement on smoking and the use of e-cigarettes.
The position statement describes the shared policy position of The Fostering Network and ASH in relation to foster care, adoption and smoking, as we work to protect the welfare and interests of fostered and adopted children. It also considers the impact of exposing children to smoking and the subsequent impact on their behaviours.
Helen Keaney, practice support team manager at The Fostering Network, said: “It is universally known, and widely accepted, that smoking is deadly, addictive and that the behaviour can pass from generation to generation. The position on smoking of tobacco products remains the same: foster carers should not smoke in the presence of children.
“In addition we have considered the emergence of e-cigarettes, and consider the current research evidence provides no compelling reasons for restricting the use of e-cigarettes. Therefore foster carers should not be prevented from fostering or applying to foster because of their use of e-cigarettes.
“However, we strongly encourage foster carers not to use e-cigarettes in front of children and young people until more evidence is gained about the role modelling effect of this on the smoking behaviour of children more generally.”
The position statement will be subject to review as more research is undertaken in respect of e-cigarettes.
You can find the full position statement on The Fostering Network’s website.
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