Home for Good response to the Government report ‘Fostering Better Outcomes’

Following two inquiries, one conducted by Sir Martin Narey (originally named fostering stocktake) and the other by the Education Select Committee, the Government has now responded to all 52 recommendations and has outlined its next steps for improving foster care in England in its report ‘Fostering Better Outcomes’.

We were so pleased to see a consistent emphasis on securing stability for children.  The introduction of a new National Stability Forum is a very positive development and will enable a cross-sector conversation across the whole landscape of children’s social care.  Bringing expertise from the fostering, adoption, residential care and special guardianship sectors together is much-needed and could facilitate much more joined-up practice.

Of course, it is essential that the forum has a mandate for action, a focus on improving the lived experiences of children and the resources to make change happen.  Nevertheless, we are pleased to see the Government prioritising a joined-up approach.

Another key theme in the report was the need to improve commissioning, sufficiency and recruitment in the foster care system.  We know that there is a shortage of foster carers with the right skills and in the right geographic locations to ensure that every child is in a home that meets all their needs.  In fact, Sir Martin Narey’s report highlighted that in almost half of placement decisions, the social worker has no choice of carers at all.

The Government have outlined steps to increase the number of carers in the system.  We were particularly pleased to see the Government encourage all fostering providers to consider recruiting from a diverse range of backgrounds and a mention of Home for Good’s faith-based approach as a model for doing so.  Importantly, the report highlights the need to ensure that recruitment practices do not intentionally or unintentionally disadvantage some groups.  We hosted a Parliamentary Roundtable in March 2018, during which we emphasised this point to Government officials.  We highlighted our faith literacy training with social workers, which helps them to understand the role that faith plays for prospective Christian carers.

In 2017, we submitted evidence to Sir Martin Narey’s review and to the Education Select Committee’s inquiry.  In our evidence we expressed the need to empower foster carers to make day-to-day decisions in the lives of their foster children.  We were therefore pleased to see that the Government will be piloting default delegated authority with some local authorities, meaning that unless there are explicit exceptions, foster carers will be empowered to make more day-to-day parenting decisions.

Finally, it was encouraging to see the Government highlight the importance of hearing from children when decisions are being made about them.  We would recommend that the proposed package of training for social workers includes guidance on how to ensure that children are appropriately involved in decision-making. 

We had hoped for a more radical intervention to improve the lived experiences of children in care, however we accept that the scope and focus of the Sir Martin Narey inquiry was intended to look at the system as a whole, with a strong emphasis on sufficiency and commissioning.  We hope therefore that the new National Stability Forum will make it a priority to gather research and make recommendations that will radically improve the lived experiences of children and their carers.

 

 

 

 

John and Paula

In their late fifties, John and Paula began caring for a mother and her baby.

Tory's Story

Tory and her husband's family was 'complete' with two children. Now they have seven!

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