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Call for evidence – Fostering Stocktake
Sir Martin Narey and Mark Owers have been appointed by the Secretary of State for Education to conduct a National Fostering Stocktake. As a first step, they are seeking views on the current state of foster care in England and how the prospects of children in care might be improved through changes to fostering.
They would like to hear from the following about how to make fostering more effective in meeting the needs of children:
- foster carers
- children in care
- children and adults who have left care
They are looking at:
- the types of fostering currently offered by providers
- the status, role and function of foster carers in relation to other professionals
- how we commission, regulate and inspect fostering settings
- what works best in fostering settings to improve outcomes for children and young people
- How we can improve the experiences of young people entering foster care, transitioning between placements, and leaving foster care
The closing date is 16 June 2017 and responses should be emailed to Stocktake.FOSTERING@education.gov.uk
Further Information about the Fostering Stocktake and how to respond can be found here.
You can download the further information about the Fostering Stocktake here.
NICE child abuse and neglect consultation
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has launched a consultation on draft guidance aimed at helping people who work with children to spot and stop abuse and neglect. The guidelines include physical, mental and sexual abuse as well as newly recognised forms of abuse such as Female Genital Mutilation, sexual exploitation, child trafficking and forced marriage, and outlines both ‘soft’ and ‘harder’ signs. The expected publication date for the guidance is September 2017.
Closing date: 19 April 2017
Further information is on the NICE website.
Helping foster carers to deal with difficult behaviour
The Department for Education (DfE) has published an evaluation of KEEP Standard, a 6-week training programme for foster and kinship carers to help them improve the way they deal with difficult behaviour. Findings suggest that carers who completed KEEP Standard showed significant improvements in parenting and their child’s levels of emotional distress decreased.
For further information, please click here.
Source: DfE Date: 03 November 2016
Views, experiences and perceptions of children in care and care leavers – call for evidence
The National Children’s Bureau and Research in Practice have launched a call for evidence to identify methods used to seek the views, experiences and perceptions of children in care and care leavers and outputs from any activities. The results will be considered by the Children’s Commissioner for England to help inform a future “State of the Nation” report on children in care and care leavers. The deadline for responses is 20 March 2017.
Source: National Children’s Bureau Date: 27 February 2017
Source: Children England Date: 08 November 2016
Child and adolescent mental health services consultation
NHS England is consulting on five service specifications for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) tier 4. These have been developed with the support of lead clinicians as well as patient and public representatives. In addition to the formal consultation, a series of webinars and face to face events will take place, and two events for young people and their parents/carers. Closing date is 28 February 2017.
Source: NHS England Date: 09 January 2017
For further information please see: Consultation guide: proposed changes to the service specifications for tier 4 child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) (PDF) and Child and adolescent mental health services consultation
Foster carers and the public interest disclosure act
The Children and Social Work Bill was introduced in the Queen’s Speech on 18 May 2016 the proposed legislation will affect looked after children, care leavers, and social workers in England.
Whistleblowing for foster carers is not incorporated into the Bill at the moment. The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) does not cover foster carers and so they currently do not have whistleblower protection if they highlight bad practice. You can ask your MP to sign the Early Day Motion here.
Children England discuss funding and commissioning of care services in new paper
Children England has published a discussion paper to engage thinking about the funding and commissioning of care services and placements for children in need of care and adoption, across all types and specialisms of placement. It puts forward the idea of a national ‘Care Bank’ which would fund the costs of all placements directly from income tax.
For further information, please click here.
Source: Children England Date: 08 November 2016
Children and social work bill
Committee stage is where detailed examination of the Bill takes place. Most Committees are able to take evidence from experts and interest groups outside Parliament.
The Children and Social Work Bill Public Bill Committee is currently gathering written evidence for the Committee stage of the Bill. The Committee stage is expected to end on 17 January 2017 but may finish earlier.
Summary of the bill
The Bill relates to:
- support for, and education of, looked after and previously looked after children;
- child safeguarding and proper performance;
- pre-employment protection of whistleblowers;
- the regulation of Social Workers.
For more information and how to respond please click here.
Fostering in England inquiry launched
The Education Committee has launched an inquiry into fostering in England. Issues which will be addressed include: recruitment and retention of foster carers; stability of foster care placements; foster care for young people with specific or challenging needs and its relationship with residential care; the involvement of young people in their care.
Submit your views
The Education Committee invites written submissions addressing the following points:
- The recruitment and retention of foster carers, and the capacity of the fostering system
- Stability of foster care placements, including the impact of the Staying Put initiative since its introduction
- The role of voluntary and independent foster care providers, and their relationships and cooperation with local authorities
- The foster care market, including the costs of commissioning of services, financial incentives in the recruitment of foster carers
- The sufficiency of current recognition, support and recompense given to foster carers
- Foster care for young people with specific or challenging needs, and its relationship with residential care
- The involvement of young people in their care, including their role in decision making
- What the Government should consider in its stock take of foster care
Submit your views through the fostering inquiry page.
Deadline for written submissions is Friday 25 November 2016. The public evidence sessions for this inquiry are likely to begin in January 2017.
Inquiry background and aim
The Committee’s fostering inquiry also examines the support for and treatment of foster carers, the involvement of young people in their foster care, and the increased role of private companies (independent fostering agencies), in providing children’s foster care.
The Committee announces its fostering inquiry at a time when the number of looked-after children is higher than at any point since 1985, when the number of available foster care places has decreased, and when foster carer recruitment has slowed.
Foster care providers and the Staying Put initiative
The Committee’s inquiry looks into the role of voluntary and independent foster care providers. Latest figures show the majority of looked-after children, around two-thirds, are fostered with local authority foster carers, but that local authorities are increasing the percentage of children they place through independent fostering agencies (IFAs). Media reports have highlighted issues relating to the financial operation and practice of IFAs.
The Fostering inquiry also examines the impact of the Staying Put initiative, which requires local authorities to support arrangements for fostered young people to remain living with their foster carers until the age of 21, if this is desired by both parties and it is in the young person’s best interest.
Neil Carmichael, Chair of the Education Committee, said:
“Fostering is a huge commitment and foster carers play a crucial role in making a positive contribution to the health, well-being, and future prospects of the children in their care. There are more children in care than at any point since 1985 and there are very real concerns of a shortfall in the number of families available to foster and about the support offered to foster carers. The foster care system is in need of urgent attention and in this inquiry we want to examine issues around the recruitment and retention of foster carers, over the role of private sector providers, and the involvement which young people have in their care.
Many people in the sector have been calling for a review of fostering for a while now and the Government has responded by announcing a ‘stock-take’ of fostering in England. But we do not have any details as to what this will look at, how long it will or what the outcomes would be.
As a Committee we want to identify the main areas where Government needs to act to ensure the foster care system in England is fully equipped to provide young people with the loving, stable care they deserve.”