Changes are needed to make long-term foster care work more successfully for both foster carer and child, according to a new report by the Fostering Network, which calls for the development of stronger statutory frameworks for long-term foster care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In the report the Fostering Network argues that long-term foster care should be regarded as the permanence option of choice for most children in care who cannot return to their birth family or live with wider family and friends. The organisation allow believes that long-term fostering placements made as part of a permanency planning process should have a distinct status and be formally confirmed by the local authority/trust.
The report, Long-term Foster Care in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, is based on a survey of foster carers which revealed support for managing long-term foster care placements differently from other fostering placements. The report outlines a number of policy and practice recommendations, including the need for additional training for foster carers offering long-term placements, improved delegation of authority for decision making and a process of reviews tailored to what works for each child.
In addition, the Fostering Network believes that a child’s foster carer should be entitled to apply to be assessed to provide long-term care if a long-term placement is decided to be in the best interests of the child, irrespective of which type of agency the foster carer is registered with.
Report author Madeleine Tearse, the Fostering Network’s policy manager, said: “Historically long-term foster care has not had a distinct status within foster care provision, nor has it had a high status as a lasting solution, or as a permanence option, for children who cannot return home.
“However, this situation is now changing. It is attracting respect and attention among policy makers across the UK, and opportunities exist to improve the policy frameworks within which long-term foster care operates.
“We are therefore calling for the development of statutory frameworks in each of the countries – it is only then that long-term foster care will receive the support, status and awareness needed to work well everywhere.”
For media enquiries contact the Fostering Network press office on 020 7620 6425 or email@example.com
NCCSC is seeking to recruit a service user, parent or carer to advise the scoping group on Child abuse and neglect
NICE Collaborating Centre for Social CareCall for Expressions of Interest to apply for the role of Scoping Group Member for the guideline on: 'Child abuse and neglect: Identifying and responding to abuse and neglect of children and young people, for practitioners working in all health and social care settings'
The NICE Collaborating Centre for Social Care (NCCSC) is a consortium led by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) in partnership with the:
The scoping group meets three times to help shape the 'scope' (or the framework) for the guideline. The role of the scoping group member will be to provide insight and challenge based on their experience and knowledge of care services. Following the completion of the scope, a Guideline Development Group (GDG) is formed, whose role it is to review the evidence on the topic and develop guidance. The scoping group member can apply for membership of the GDG as well, if this is of interest. This will be a formal recruitment process managed by NICE in July 2014.
Scoping Group 1: 19th May 2014 (10.00am - 12.00pm), London
Stakeholder Workshop: 13th June 2014 (9.30am - 1.30pm), London
Scoping Group 2: 16th June 2014 (11am - 1.30pm), London
Scoping Group 3: 28th August 2014 (1pm - 4pm), London
Fees and expenses
A fee of £150 per day (£75 per half day) and reasonable expenses are available.
How to apply
Please provide the following key documents:
Or post to:
NICE Collaborating Centre for Social Care
206 Marylebone Rd
If you would prefer paper copies of these forms, please email, write to, or telephone Mavis Taylormavis.firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel. 020 7535 0940.
If you have any questions or wish to discuss the role further, please contact the Co-production Leads:
Michael Turner -Michael.Turner@scie.org.uk Tel: 020 7535 0944
Pete Fleischmann - Pete.Fleischmann@scie.org.uk Tel: 020 7535 0955
Please return your completed forms by Tuesday 6th May (5pm)
The NICE Collaborating Centre for Social Care will decide whom to recruit to the scoping group. Please note that submitting an application does not automatically guarantee a place on the Scoping Group.
Fostering through Social Enterprise (FtSE) members meet on a quarterly basis to discuss a variety of issues relating to the welfare of children in care in the UK.
At the meeting on Monday 28 April 2014, FtSE members met with a representative from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) to discuss guidelines on recruiting foster carers who smoke.
A particularly interesting conversation took place with regards to the use of electronic cigarettes. There is already some research evidence relating to the impact of e-cigarettes on health and their efficacy as a smoking cessation aid, although inevitably at this early stage the findings are inconclusive.
FtSE will be listening to the debate closely and intend to be involved in the ongoing discussions to ensure the welfare of children is fully considered.
St Christopher’s has secured a grant from the Department for Education’s Children’s Services Innovation Programme to develop new ways of supporting Looked After Children and those on the edge of care.
The Innovation Programme champions good performance and drives innovation by funding children’s professionals to develop “adventurous” ideas for reforming how children’s social care is delivered.
This fits well with St Christopher’s ideology. We embrace and develop evidence-based good practice. In recent years we have been part of the Department for Education’s pilot on social pedagogy and, in partnership with Middlesex University's Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies, have enhanced and embedded attachment theory and Attachment Style Interviews as part of our practice.
The “seed” grant will be used to further develop our proposals and we hope to secure further backing from the Innovation Fund for testing and implementation.
The Department for Education (DfE) has become the government’s first foster-family-friendly employer, giving staff that foster children extra support in balancing their work and care responsibilities.
From today, DfE employees who foster - as well as those who care for children of family or friends, such as a grandparent caring permanently for their grandchild - will be offered up to 20 days paid leave to attend training or meetings relating to their role as a carer.
Employees will also be entitled to additional unpaid time off work to deal with unexpected emergencies, such as welcoming a child into their home at short notice.
Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson and Chris Wormald, the Permanent Secretary for the Department for Education, have written to other government departments to encourage them to adopt their own foster-family-friendly policy for staff.
Edward Timpson, who grew up with over 80 foster brothers and sisters, said:
We’re leading by example in becoming the first government department to introduce their very own foster-family-friendly policy. I hope this will encourage more employees to take that important next step knowing that their employer is behind them every step of the way.
Chris Wormald said:
By becoming a foster-friendly employer I hope we can retain those valuable and experienced people who may otherwise feel they are unable to combine their family responsibilities with work by offering flexible working options to those who care for our most vulnerable children.
Paul Adams, British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), said:
The British Association for Adoption and Fostering very much welcomes the announcement of the DfE’s policy to offer special leave to foster carers and family and friends carers. This is a significant development that shows an understanding of the real challenges that come with these caring roles, and offers recognition and support to foster carers in work outside the home.
We are particularly pleased that this development also recognises family and friends carers, whose needs are just the same as foster carers in this regard. In taking this step, the DfE is showing the way to other employers who want to demonstrate a real and meaningful commitment to children in care, or living with family and friends. It also sends out the clear message that people in work can also be suitable to foster. We hope that employers in the public and private sector will note this development and follow theDfE’s lead.
The department is encouraging businesses to support their employees who foster - just as companies such as Tesco and O2 already do - and has developed some simple steps that businesses can introduce to support their staff to foster.
Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of reforms the government has made to improve outcomes for foster families. We have:
Our policy offers employees up to a maximum of 20 days special leave in a 12-month period. The maximum entitlement will be granted only in exceptional circumstances, where an employee has, applied to be a foster carer, received training and had a child permanently placed with them, all within 12 months. Typically, it is expected that employees could apply for up to 10 days in a leave year when being placed with a child.
Employers need to be helped to understand the fostering task and to implement foster family friendly HR policies, which offer flexibility to foster carers in their employment, allowing them to adjust their hours when needed and recognising that there may be a higher incidence of emergency situations in looking after children with particular needs. We welcome the fact that the Department for Education is leading the way with a foster-family-friendly HR policy.
Having an employer that respects their fostering commitments can make all the difference to a foster carer. The Fostering Network is working with the DfE to encourage more employers to understand and respond to the needs of their foster carer employees.
Recent years have seen significant attention at both policy and practice levels to improve outcomes for looked-after children. This is not surprising when for so many young people our care system, at best, fails to compensate for toxic childhoods and, at worst, exacerbates their problems.
It is of concern, however, that outcomes are not improving and, arguably, are actually getting worse. Government research shows the the number of young people in positive destinations aged 19 has stagnated, while the number not in touch is increasing. It supports my argument that outcomes are not improving, despite all the policies targeting this.
The latest policy to try and improve outcomes is ‘Staying Put’, which will see a new legal obligation for local authorities to offer young people in foster care the opportunity to stay with their carers until they turn 21.
‘Misleading and discriminatory’
This hastily put together legislation is both confusing and discriminatory. It is confusing because there is very little evidence to indicate the policy in its current form will actually improve outcomes. Further, despite all of the rhetoric, it is misleading to say that all young people in foster care who wish to stay in care will be offered this choice.
The reality is this will only be feasible if carers are able to afford the significant drop in income. Many professional carers – although not necessarily fostering for the money – cannot afford this, a key message from the evaluation of the Staying Put pilot.
Further, young people placed with independent providers (approximately 33%) are also unlikely to be able to stay put because no provision has been made for agency fees – again a key finding from the evaluation that has not been addressed.
If a child or young person was fortunate enough to be given a choice in placement, they will not have considered the importance of the foster carer’s financial situation or if they are an independent fostering provider
‘A national disgrace’
The final discriminatory element (and the most grave) is that the policy fails to support our most vulnerable young people in residential child care – a population consistently found in research to be the most at risk.
The discrimination toward children and young people in residential care is a national disgrace, but it is not a new prejudice. In many ways, those young people for whom foster care or adoption is unsuitable are the ‘undeserving poor’ of the 21st Century.
There are many questions to be asked of Staying Put and how viable the policy is. Its architects have failed to address problems highlighted in the pilot and the evaluation had only 21 young people – a woefully inadequate number to base national policy on.
I wholeheartedly support the spirit of Staying Put, but believe this is a missed opportunity to improve outcomes for all children in care. It is likely to only benefit a select few – those in stable placements whose carers can afford to lose the fostering allowance. In reality there will be very few who can, and it’s contrary to the drive to professionalise foster care: Professionals want to be paid.
If we want to improve outcomes in areas such as educational attainment, we need to look at the educational level of foster carers.
The Achilles Heel of care
Research has shown that a relationship exists between parental educational attainment and that of their children, but we have no minimum qualification level to become a foster carer. Yet we hear repeated calls for increased qualification requirements for those working in residential care where arguably these are already higher than foster care.
If we are to increase the number of looked-after children with positive outcomes we must reassess the whole care continuum. We must commit to ALL looked-after children and young people, not just those served by charities with the most effective lobbying.
Despite the introduction of the Care Leavers Act, support for care leavers is the Achilles heel of our care system and is where the focus needs to be – whatever the form of care.
This critical part of the care continuum is where the budgets are most likely to be cut to fund the cost of Staying Put; one must remember that most care leaving support such as setting up home grants have no minimum amount in legislation.
Staying Put is far from a universal entitlement for looked-after children, a key factor that will no doubt be the subject of a Judicial Review by a young person who finds the government commitment to their stability hollow, in the same way as the Care Leavers Charter.
The discriminatory nature of the policy will mean a looked-after child’s opportunity to stay put will likely be based on whether their carers are reliant on the fostering income, or whether they are placed with an independent provider.
When people successfully parent their own children, they love and care for them equally; it is shame this government does not.
Mark Kerr is a PhD researcher and assistant lecturer in social policy at the University of Kent at Canterbury.
Young people in local authority care are too often being moved to children's homes and foster places far from their home communities, Ofsted says.
The regulator says looked-after children face serious problems with education and health care because agencies are failing to work together.
Around one in 10 children in care in England is moved more than 20 miles from their home area.
The Local Government Association says it finds the report "disappointing".
Ofsted found that 8,000 (12%) of looked-after children live more than 20 miles from their home.
The regulator concedes that this might sometimes be in the best interests of a child.
However, it says the most common reason for children to live out of their home area was a shortage of carers closer to home.
Inspectors saw many cases where children were well-settled in their placements, and examples of good practice from individual social workers, who worked well to establish beneficial relationships, maintaining regular contact with young people despite the long distances involved.
But they concluded that the further away from home children live, the less likely it is that their health and education needs will be met.
In nearly half the cases tracked, children and young people arrived in new areas without the right specialist support being in place for them, with poor information sharing leading to potentially damaging delays in their care.
In a third of cases, the quality of the support and help offered by services out of area had not been properly considered.
Debbie Jones, Ofsted's national director for social care, said this meant young people in care often experienced problems with their education, and delays accessing mental health services.
"Becoming looked after is difficult enough for any young person, even more so when they move away from their family, friends, and familiar surroundings to a unfamiliar place, without proper access to the help and support they so desperately need.
"Given the serious risks sometimes associated with out-of-area placements, corporate parents must prioritise and understand the needs of this group.
"The delays for children and young people accessing the mental health support they need, often because of funding disputes between local authorities is frankly unacceptable, and should immediately be resolved as we have recommended.
"As demand continues to grow, more and more children will find themselves placed at distance from their families and communities.
"This issue is not going to go away," she said.
Ofsted is calling on the government to review the impact of strengthened regulations on children's homes providers and local authorities, to ensure that the risks to, and needs of children and young people are properly met and regularly reviewed by those with responsibility for them.
The report comes only weeks after a committee of MPs warned young people were being sent to children's homes in "unsuitable and dangerous areas".
The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales, said it was "disappointed" by the report.
David Simmonds, chairman of the LGA's children and young people board, said: "Councils have been working very closely with the Department for Education on this issue for some time, in close consultation with approved children's home and foster carers who provide the majority of places.
"This is why it is disappointing that Ofsted are jumping on the bandwagon again with this, rather than offering constructive suggestions, especially as Ofsted is directly responsible for inspecting children's homes' provision.
The biggest concern for councils is the welfare of the children they care for, and the flexibility to place children away from the area where abuse or neglect has brought them into the care system can be a vital way of giving them a new beginning away from these problems.
"There are very good reasons why some children in residential homes are placed outside their home area. This could be for their own safety, to break gang affiliation, to place them near other family members or to access specialist services.
"Residential children's homes play an important role in caring for some of the most vulnerable children in society at difficult times in their lives and councils have a key role in making this happen."
A Department for Education official said that "every child deserves a safe and stable home.
"We have been clear that children should only be placed out of area when it is in their best interest. We have already changed the rules so that any such decision must be approved by a senior council official.
"We have also increased transparency about the location and quality of children's homes, and are working closely with Ofsted to improve inspection.
"There are now clearer expectations for children's homes, police and councils to ensure they work closely together when children are at risk of going missing."
Star of stage, screen and song sheet, and son of foster carers, Gareth Gates, is once again calling on people who may have the skills to foster to come forward and provide a loving and secure home for a vulnerable child.
Looking back on his formative years growing up in a fostering family, Gareth said:
"Fostering has always been a part of my life. My parents have fostered over 50 children since I was a small boy. I have three sisters, but have had many more foster brothers and sisters.
“My parents provided love and stability to many less fortunate children and brought them into our family. It may not have always been easy but is something I would never change.
“It's a huge decision and of course it isn't for everyone but it's incredibly rewarding. I know that it's not only changed the lives the kids who've spent some time in our family over the years but also mine and my sisters.”
Jackie Sanders, head of media and campaigns at the Fostering Network, said: “Gareth comes to this from a place of experience. He has seen what a difference fostering can make to children and we’re thrilled that he is again taking the time to support Foster Care Fortnight.
“Fostering is about the whole family, and the sons and daughters of foster carers can play a vital part in ensuring that a child or young person finds security in their new home.”
The charity runs the annual campaign on behalf of fostering services across the UK to raise the profile of fostering and to encourage people to consider becoming a foster carer. This year the theme is "guess who fosters", with the aim of smashing stereotypes about who can and can't foster, and highlighting the skills and qualities actually needed to become a foster carer.
Find out more about fostering and find details of your local fostering services by visiting couldyoufoster.org.uk
Following on from the amazing success of GoGoGorillas! in the summer of 2013, Break and Wild in Art are delighted to announce GoGoDragons! for summer 2015, bringing more love and laughter, families, communities, artists and local business together for another summer of fun!
The success of GoGoGorillas! was unbelievable. The way the public took them to their hearts - the partnerships, sponsors and artists who made the trail come to life will be remembered for a long time to come and the legacy lives on.
This time, Break and Wild in Art have chosen the Dragon, a mythical creature whose legend is much embedded in the history of Norwich.
We will be looking for artists to submit designs and businesses to sponsor the Dragons working towards a stunning trail around the City of Norwich in June 2015.
As well as the main Dragon sculptures, there will also be community and school projects to engage with the widest possible audience.
We are at the beginning of another awesome journey which we hope will bring amazing art to Norwich, visitors to our beautiful City and lots of joy and laughter.
Michael Rooney, Fundraising Manager at Break, says “Break is really looking forward to delivering another fantastic event for Norwich in 2015. We are very pleased to be working with our excellent partners Wild in Art and are excited about the possibilities that the Dragon sculpture brings. We want to build on the success of GoGoGorillas! whilst at the same time delivering some different aspects to increase its appeal to wider communities. Our aim is to have an inspiring event and raise money for Break’s work with vulnerable children young people and families. We will shortly be making an announcement about how the money from GoGoGorillas! is being used".
Sally Ann Wilkinson, Director of Wild in Art says “Wild in Art is delighted to be working with Break to bring GoGoDragons! to Norwich in 2015. This event will herald the arrival of the Norwich Dragon – a sculpture specifically designed to engage artists, people of all ages and communities in a summer-long celebration of Norwich and Norfolk’s rich cultural offer.“
The Dragon Mould is being created by Chris Wilkinson, Creative Director of Wild in Art.
Sponsor packs and artist packs will be available soon but in the meantime if you would like to register your interest, either with a view to sponsoring a GoGoDragon or submitting designs, please contact Martin Green, Break Fundraising Events Manager on 01603 670107 or email email@example.com.
Follow the GoGoDragons! FB GoGoDragons and twitter @gogodragons2015, website to follow!
Ofsted - What Do You Think Of Your Children's Home, Fostering Service, Adoption Agency And Residential Family Centre?
Ofsted’s social care online questionnaires for children’s homes, fostering services, adoption agencies and residential family centres are now open and available for completion until 30 June 2014.
We really want to hear from children and young people, adults who use services, staff, parents, carers and professionals.
As such we would like as many views as possible about the effectiveness and quality of these services. The results help us prepare for inspections and inform our decisions about when to inspect.
You will get a link to the questionnaire from your children’s home, fostering service, adoption agency or residential family centre. If you do not get this link, please contact your provider and ask if they can send you this.
If you do not feel able to ask the service for a questionnaire you can contact Ofsted on 03001231231 or firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure you have a chance to give us your views.
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