The recently published ‘State of the Nation’s Foster Care’ 2016 report has drawn support from another key organisation in the fostering industry: the chief executive of the Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers, Harvey Gallagher, has just added his voice to warn of the negative trends indicated in the report which could have a direct bearing upon the recruitment and retention of foster carers. And this comes at a time, when the country is struggling with a shortfall of some 9,000 new foster families. So this report should certainly foster a sea change in government thinking.
“I commend The Fostering Network on their State of the Nation’s Foster Care 2016 report. It provides an excellent snapshot of what foster carers from across the UK, and from both local authorities and independent and voluntary sector fostering providers (IFPs), think about their role and how they are supported to do their very best for the children placed with them. The report is food for thought and begs further analysis and questioning.”
It is heartening when influential figures step forward and ‘tell it as it is’: Harvey Gallagher went so far as to voice his dismay that the most basic costs of looking after a child seem not, in a great many instances, to be covered by fostering allowances. This has the consequence of a great many foster carers paying out of their own pockets, for essential items such as clothes and shoes. He warned that such a situation would mean “We’re in serious danger of stretching the good will of carers to breaking point and that could have dire consequences for children in care.”
Findings from report give
Harvey Gallagher has provided a useful snapshot of one significant aspect of fostering gleaned from the report. It measures certain differences between foster carers fostering for independent fostering providers (IFPs) and those fostering for local authorities:
carers who foster for IFPs (63%) were more likely to recommend fostering to others as compared to those fostering for local authorities (54%);
carers who were fostering for IFPs (40%) were less likely to miss out on training opportunities than carers fostering for local authorities (50%);
views that were expressed about what kind of support was available were more positive from carers fostering for IFPs compared to carers fostering for local authorities: carers transferring from local authorities to IFPs reported making the move as they felt training and support would be better. Foster carers moving from IFPs to local authorities did so in the main in the expectation that they would get more placement referrals;
It also emerged that a certain number of foster carers felt uncomfortable working for IFPs because they were profit making;
people fostering drawn from black and minority ethnic groups – most especially black Caribbean foster carers – were more likely to be fostering for independent fostering providers;
carers fostering through IFPs were, it emerged, more likely to receive more background information about a child before it was placed, than those fostering for a local authority;
the report had found that just over half of foster carers (56%) had received training around managing allegations, but a higher percentage (74%) were more likely to have received such training if working for an IFP;
52% of foster carers felt that they had been pressured into taking children from outside their approval range; it was local authority foster carers who were more likely to feel pressured this way as compared to people fostering for IFPs;
The report also found that slightly more Muslim foster carers were working for IFPs as compared to local authorities.
What should please everyone working for IFPs is the sentiment expressed by Harvey Gallagher, that the report revealed a picture of an “independent and voluntary fostering sector that supports its carers well.” Going further, he opined that this situation was supported by Ofsted findings. Their judgement was that 85% of IFPs were found to be good or outstanding – with just 1% being classed inadequate. A relative performance comparison between IFPs and local authorities is not possible, as LAs are not inspected by Ofsted.
And the good news at the end of this rainbow…the first of our special music sessions was held for our children at our headquarters on Friday. There was an extremely favourable reaction and we shall be looking to involve more children over the coming weeks.
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And you also will be eligible for a bonus. The process is extremely straightforward – we will provide all the necessary support and guidance for you. Please call for more details today – discover the benefits of joining our welcoming family of foster carers.
If you foster, keep up to date with the issues that matter
Make sure you refer to our special news section on Rainbow Fostering’s web site. It has articles that should be of interest if you foster. But these are also intended to be of general interest – Latest article: “State of the Nation’s Foster Care report draws response” Simply visit http://bit.ly/2e8PrIK And please feel free to contact us with your own views or experiences.