NAFP response to Education Committee Fostering Inquiry report, 21 December 2017
The Education Committee has today published a report on its Fostering Inquiry. NAFP Chief Executive, Harvey Gallagher, has given this response:
- A review of the whole care system: whilst the reviews on adoption and children's homes have been helpful, we cannot hope to improve the journey of all children in and on the edge of care until we take an overview of the whole care system. The soon to be published National Fostering Stocktake needs to be viewed in this context, for the role of played for all children who come into contact with social care, not just the silo categories of care that adults have created.
- Local authorities and foster care providers piloting new ways of working: there is very little learning of what has worked in delivery of services. We are often guilty of jumping on the next initiative and over-stating its success before solid evidence exists to suggest it was ever a good idea. Local authorities and IFPs should come together in new collaborative partnerships that must start to re-build trust (see NAFP commissioning report).
- Funding of Staying Put: funding is the major concern, but there are others including poor planning/coordination. But nothing less than a further injection of funds is needed to make Staying Put a reality for more young people (see NAFP report on Staying Put).
- Commissioning and placement decisions made on the basis of cost: this is a theme in our new report on commissioning (see above) and it besets commissioning - 'cheapest first'. IFPs generally care for children with more complex needs and who are older, so it costs more to care for these children. 90% are good or outstanding with Ofsted and less than 1% inadequate, so we know that their services of a very high standard. Local authorities who believe (incorrectly) that their own in-house fostering services are cheaper than IFPs are in fact placing 'cheapest first' - that can never be good enough for children in care.