Care standards ‘deter’ short-break foster carers of disabled children

Children’s charity Barnardo’s is lobbying to change care standards
for short-term foster care placements because they are deterring
people from caring for disabled children.

The move follows a survey of workers at 36 Barnardo’s projects,
which finds that the charity needs three times the number of foster
carers for disabled children that it currently has.

Barnardo’s believes the shortage is partly due to the onerous
nature of fostering service national minimum standards introduced
under the Care Standards Act 2000 two years ago.

Under the inspection framework, short-term carers of disabled
children have to meet requirements on handling contact with
parents, a child’s educational needs and providing equipment.

Last year, the charity placed 5,500 disabled children with
short-term foster carers on behalf of local authorities. However,
11,000 were unable to benefit because of a lack of carers, the
survey reveals.

Under the scheme, children stay with short-term carers one weekend
every month to expand their experiences and give their parents a

The minimum standards apply to all foster placements, but do not
reflect the practicalities of providing short-term breaks for
disabled children, Barnardo’s believes.

Jan Morrison, disabled children’s policy officer at Barnardo’s,
said the standards were a “deterrent” to people wanting to offer
short-break fostering. She said not all the requirements of the
Care Standards Act were practical or necessary.

“We have had feedback that some projects are losing carers because
of [the standards],” she said. “Carers are saying ‘look at what you
are asking me to do – I didn’t get into it for all this’.”

The Commission for Social Care Inspection was unaware that the
minimum standards caused problems in the recruitment of short-term
foster carers, said a spokesperson, but it would welcome evidence
to the contrary.

l If you are interested in the issues raised by this story, don’t
miss the opportunity to join the debate at Community Care LIVE in
London on 19-20 May. Call 0870 429 5326.

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