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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.”
Transition from Children’s to Adults’ Services
NICE National institute for Health and Care Excellence are consulting on a draft quality standard to cover all young people (aged up to 25) using children’s health and social care services who are due to make the transition to adults’ services. It will include young people:
- in local authority care
- with mental health problems
- with disabilities
- with long-term, life-limiting or complex needs.
The standard will cover the period before, during and after a young person moves from children’s to adults’ services.
The deadline for comments is 22 August 2016.
More information is available on the NICE website.
Future of Social Care Inspection
Ofsted is seeking views on proposed changes across Ofsted’s inspections of children’s social care. The consultation has four parts:
- principles for children’s social care inspections
- a new approach to inspections of local authority children’s services from 2018
- a new common inspection framework for social care establishments, agencies, boarding schools and residential special schools from April 2017
- changes to inspections of independent fostering agencies.
The consultation closes on 9 September 2016.
More information is available on the Gov.uk website.
Knowledge and Skills Statement for achieving permanence
The Department for Education is seeking views on the content of the knowledge and skills statement for child and family workers involved in permanence planning. This consultation runs from 4th July to 9 September 2016
Why We Are Consulting
This consultation is seeking views on our draft knowledge and skills statement for achieving permanence. We are consulting on this statement as:
- A statement of what social workers need to know and be able to do in order to successfully undertake the assessment, analysis and permanence decision making we require of them, and progress permanence plans with urgency and skill; and
- A statement to inform the content of the continuous professional development programme.
This consultation is for young people, foster carers, adoptive parents, social workers – Give Us Your Views
30-hour free childcare entitlement
The Department for Education is inviting views on how they should provide an extended entitlement of up to 30 hours free childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year-olds. More information is available on the Department for Education Consultation Hub.
Closing date: 6 June 2016
Children and Young People’s Mental Health: Peer Support – England
The Department for Education has launched a consultation seeking views on the most effective support methods to help improve the mental health of children and young people. The call for evidence aims to find out more about:
- what works in peer support for children and young people’s mental wellbeing;
- the approaches that are currently available; and
- how things might be improved.
More information including a link to a young people’s call for evidence is available on the Department for Education Consultation Hub.
Closing date: 24th March 2016
Keeping Children Safe in Education: Proposed Changes to Statutory Guidance – England
The Department for Education is seeking views on proposed revisions to statutory guidance for schools on keeping children safe. The revised guidance document, which replaces ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education 2015′, provides information on what schools and colleges should know and do, and sets out the legal duties with which schools and colleges must comply in order to keep children safe.
The consultation documents and response form can be found on the Gov.uk website
Closing date: 16 February 2016
Views Sought on Inspecting Special Educational Needs Provision – England
Inspectors from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission will assess how effectively local areas are fulfilling their obligations towards children and young people with special educational needs from May 2016, under new proposals announced. The organisations want these inspections to act as catalysts for improvement. They have launched a consultation to seek responses to the proposals from all those with an interest in disability and special educational needs, including young people.
Further details are on the Ofsted press release
The consultation documents are available on the Gov.uk website
Closing date: 4 January 2016
The Family Rights Group is running a survey for kinship carers in England and Wales. Its aim is to fill research and policy gaps about kinship care to inform campaign work to secure a better deal for kinship carers.
To take part in the survey please click here