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Five Rivers responds to the Fostering Stocktake consultation

Consultation recently came to an end in the Fostering Stocktake. This is a milestone review of the state of the nation’s fostering services by Sir Martin Narey and Mark Owers for the Department of Education.

The sector’s two leading representative bodies, the National Association of Fostering Providers (to which Five Rivers contributed) and the Fostering Network submitted their own reports to the review. We have read them and picked up a couple of hot topics of interest to our foster carers and our commissioning clients.

Best match

The National Association of Fostering Providers (NAFP) voiced concern at the practice of ‘in-house first’, where local authorities move children to in-house foster carers regardless of potentially better matches in the independent sector. We are adamant that stability of placement is the number one factor in improved life chances for looked after children – and planning is key to success. Our child-centred approach to foster care placement planning includes meaningful preparation, full information-sharing with foster carers and where possible the views of children and young people are taken into account during this process. (All our fostering offices are assessed for certification by Investing in Children – the quality mark for how organisations listen and involve children and young people in decisions that directly affect them when they are Looked After)

Respect for Foster Carers

Both the NAFP and the Fostering Network reported a proportion of foster carers feel they are neither supported nor listened to by children’s social workers. They are not seen as professionals within the group of people involved in the child or young person’s life, and often feel sidelined in the planning and decision-making process.

At Five Rivers, we are aware of the issues and ensure foster carers are treated as an equal member of the team through a variety of ways :

All carers are able to get involved in the development of the fostering service and give their views on matters that directly affect them through our carer consultation arrangements, and other settings where carers have direct access to Senior Managers.
All carers are canvassed each year for their views about their experience as Foster Carers in the Annual Foster Carer Survey conducted by Five Rivers.
Carers are also encouraged and supported to also give their views in the annual Ofsted carer survey.
As a means of delivering excellent outcomes for children and young people, and raising the status of carers in the eyes of other professionals outside of Five Rivers we offer specialist training options. These enable our foster carers to meet growing demands for specialised care in the following areas:

  •       Children with disabilities
  •       Specific and challenging needs
  •       Short-term emergency placements
  •       Parent(s) and Child(ren) placements
  •       Carers who are trained and have the appropriate skills are in high demand and will rarely be without someone placed with them.

The future for foster carers

In our regular internal surveys and open forums Five Rivers foster carers continue to report that they are extremely well-supported by the Five Rivers “family” of Supervising Social workers,  Fostering Support Workers and clinicians who deliver a huge amount of training expertise and support.  We believe training and the development of carers as partners in the team of professionals looking after a child or young person has to be the way forward for the whole sector.

We look forward to reading the full analysis of the public feedback when it is published by the government later this year.

Reference:  ‘Government stocktake told of poor commissioning and lack of respect for foster carers’ This Week in Fostering 22 June 2017

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