Agency Report Quarter 1 Fostering 1 April - 30 June 2017
To consider a report outlining the activity in the Fostering Agency during Quarter 1.
The Panel considered the report of the Executive Member for Social Care and Housing which outlined activity in the Fostering Service from 1 January to 31 March 2017.
Points and comments included:
· The carers working within the supported lodging programme were not approved foster carers though assessments were carried out and they could undertake foster carer training if they wished.
· The supported lodging scheme catered for 16-18 year olds and would be expanded once successfully established. The participants were carefully selected as it was acknowledged that the scheme was not suitable for all young people.
· A number of Looked After Children experienced three or more placements during a twelve month period. The reasons for this included an insufficient number of foster carers, some foster carers could only foster for short periods, placements could break down or the needs of the child were not being met. An attempt was made to ensure that there was continuity in other areas of the child’s life in order to minimise the adverse impact of a move.
· That figures were produced each month on the movement of Looked After Children to new foster carers and the reasons for the need for a new placement were examined. The Interim Head of Corporate Parenting undertook to include a summary on this issue in the annual Fostering report.
· The employment stability of permanent social workers working in the Fostering Service with Looked After Children was very high at above 90%. The Practice Manager, Conference and Review Service undertook to regularly include data regarding this issue in her annual report. However, Members felt that an initial report on LAC social worker ‘churn’ should be submitted to the next meeting if possible.
· The support available to the six fostering households that were overdue in completing their Training, Support and Development (TSD) Standards. In response the Practice Manager, Fostering stated that the training took approximately 12 months to complete. She stressed that the quality of care provided by the households was very good despite them having failed to complete the training. The tier system for foster carers provided an incentive to carers to complete training as failure to do so could lead to a carer dropping a tier and experiencing a reduction in income. Nevertheless, problems arose because carers were sometimes too busy, or they had difficulty reading or English was not their first language.
· The costs in developing and recruiting social workers and the comparative costs of in house and agency foster carers.
· The absence of ‘pressures’ within the fostering budget to reflect the growth in population. The Interim Head of the Corporate Parenting Service referred to working within a five year timeframe for financial planning and that the Early Help and Universal Help programmes might reduce the numbers of children entering the system who required care.
· The delays experienced in the recruitment of staff through the Vacancy Management Process (VMP) and the causes of the delays.
· The growing number of Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs) though this was now at a slower pace. The Practice Manager, Fostering commented that the Orders were viewed positively as they removed children from the care system. The Interim Head of the Corporate Parenting Service added that local courts were keen that children remained with family members. The use of SGOs also impacted on the numbers of children being available for adoption.
the Fostering Agency report for Quarter 1.
that, if possible, a report be submitted by the Practice Manager Conference and Review to the next meeting of the Panel on Looked After Children social worker ‘churn’.