TACT – the UK’s largest fostering and adoption charity, warmly welcomes the independent review of foster care in England, produced by Sir Martin Narey and Mark Owers. The report published today, provides an overdue recognition of the importance of foster care to the UK care system and the vital role foster families play in caring for the UK’s most vulnerable children.
TACT CEO Andy Elvin said: “We very much appreciate the report’s kind words about our ground-breaking partnership with Peterborough City Council. We hope other local authorities look at this and consider how they might transform their care services in order to improve outcomes for children in care. We also applaud the reports recognition of foster parents as the experts on their foster child. The professional network often forgets that, along with the birth family, it is the foster carer who knows most about the child. Decisions about the child should never be made without the foster parents’ involvement and insight”
The report’s recommendation that Ministers should direct the setting up of a Permanence Board under the chairmanship of the Director General for Children’s Social Care, is particularly welcome, and something that TACT has long been campaigning for. The focus of a joined-up body should be on supporting all family types so kinship carers and birth parents whose children return to them can access the same long-term assistance as foster carers and adopters.
Andy Elvin said: “It is gratifying that TACT and other smaller voluntary sector providers have been acknowledged as charging fees substantially lower than the average, and that any surplus TACT makes is ‘genuinely – and commendably – modest’. It has always been our ethos that instead of making money from the placing of children in foster homes, all of our excess income goes back into improving the lives of our foster carers and the children we care for”.
On the matter of family contact, TACT warmly endorses the report’s recommendation that the opinion of foster carers about the effect of contact on the child in care should be an important factor in helping courts to come to an informed decision.
Martin Barrow, an experienced foster carer says in the publication ‘Welcoming to Fostering’ co-authored by TACT CEO Andy Elvin and quoted in the report:”On a number of occasions we have been in conflict with placement teams over arrangements for contact, with little success. In our view, placement teams put a parent’s demands ahead of the child’s wishes and will adhere to the family court’s proposed contact schedule even if it is having a materially negative impact on the child.”
We are also pleased that the report shares our belief that children on the edge of care and their families should routinely gain access to foster care. TACT has been successfully running a scheme called Parallel Parenting – with specially trained TACT carers delivering home coaching to help families successfully look after their children to avoid admission into care or when they return home from care.
It is disappointing that the report has rejected the idea of a large-scale national advertising campaign funded by central government. While we acknowledge that there are fostering households without a child living with them, there is an urgent need to attract more people willing and able to care for sibling groups, teenagers and children with disabilities.
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