Comment on government response to Education Select Committee report into fostering and Foster Care in England, 20 July 2018
'A real sustained focus from government on building on the strengths of foster care and improving the lives of children placed in foster care is of course most welcome. Our overwhelming priority should be to match the child with the foster carer who can most meet their needs, with a keen eye on a value for money as a second priority.
Government's emphasis on genuine collaboration between local authorities and independent fostering providers is a breath of fresh air and I know many of our local authority colleagues will feel the same. We will continue to work co-operatively in partnership with our local authority colleagues in a positive and proactive manner, and refine social work practice to achieve an improved experience and outcomes for children in foster care.
'Commissioning of foster care placements can only begin to be effective with this kind of sea change in relationships between commissioners and service providers, and that includes local authorities as providers of fostering services too. Too often, we have prioritised the cheapest placement and that can never be right. We have collectively allowed a fragmented, 'last.minute.com' system to develop and this has worked against finding the right foster carer for a child when needed and in the right place.
'We know that the independent and voluntary fostering sector provides high quality placements for children, many of whom have the most challenging needs, and value for money for public spending in this tough economic climate. It follows then that when we are genuinely able, and willing (and this is key), to compare like-for-like options for children, we will be best placed to meet their needs and find the foster carer that is best for each and every individual child.
Government may need to go further in its intentions to ensure we begin to put this into practice at local level. Ofsted has a key role to play here to ensure better ways of working become the reality for children. This will be a challenge for us all but we look forward to working with local authorities to support and advise on implementation of government's action plan to put children in foster care at the heart of decision-making.'
Harvey Gallagher, Chief Executive, NAFP