Efforts to tackle problems in fostering should be given equal weight to those in place in adoption, writes Andy Elvin of TACT Fostering and Adoption
by Andy Elvin
In November the National Association of Fostering Providers (NAFP), which largely represents commercial agencies, took three local authorities to court in a judicial review claiming their commissioning approach was unlawful. The NAFP claimed that, rather than looking for an “in house” local authority foster carer first (as happens in some cases), local authorities should send all referrals to all providers of foster care. The judge ruled against this position.
NAFP took Leeds, Bristol and Suffolk to court and the Local Government Association joined the three councils as an interested party
I do not know how much this action cost NAFP to bring, or how much it cost the three local authorities to defend, but it is all money that could have been better spent on vulnerable children.
’There are, nonetheless, legitimate issues about foster care provision that should be discussed between the Department for Education (DfE), Local Government Association, Association of Directors of Children’s Services, local authorities and independent fostering agencies.
The Adoption Leadership Board has done excellent work in closing the gap between the number of children available for adoption and the number of adopters available. It has also very effectively promoted adoption and post-adoption support.
That is why TACT is calling for a Fostering Leadership Board to be instituted on the same basis as the Adoption Leadership Board. This can bring stakeholders together and improve provision and practice; not through lawyers, but through dialogue, partnership and our shared aspirations for the children we all care for.
Adopted children comprise 5% of the children who go through the care system each year.
Fostered children comprise 75% of the care population, and a leadership board with ministerial and local government buy in is urgently required.
The immediate issues are:
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