Plans for children in care will lead to professionalised fostering system

The green paper on looked-after children will propose a new tiered framework for foster carers, with those at the top looking after some children who might currently be considered for residential care, Community Care has learned.

The framework will be underpinned by a set of new qualifications, leading to foster carers at the higher end of the framework becoming increasingly professionalised, according to a source.

The green paper, which is expected to be published on 9 October, could also introduce a presumption for local authorities that looked-after children remain with their foster carers beyond the age of 16.

The document is likely to be very “green”, in that it will set out the government’s principles and priorities but will ask for the input of stakeholders on the finer details. It will focus strongly on the need to prevent children coming into care.

According to the source, a series of pilots will be proposed to test the effectiveness of family therapy in keeping children out of care.

Fostering Network chief executive Robert Tapsfield said he hoped the green paper would establish a postapproval training framework that provided foster carers with a way of gaining recognised qualifications. He said he would welcome moves to enable young people to stay with foster carers for longer if they wanted to.

But he added: “There do seem to be a whole raft of very good intentions but if these are not followed up by financial resources they we will not see the change in practice we want to see.”

British Association for Adoption and Fostering head David Holmes said measures to extend foster placements beyond 16 would be “exciting” given that young people in the general population left home, on average, aged 24.

British Association of Social Workers professional officer Nushra Mapstone said BASW would applaud any move to extend foster care placements and said children’s services needed a stronger therapeutic emphasis.

Likely green paper plans
● Measures to swiftly identify and address failure by local authorities.
● Encourage voluntary sector to run children’s homes.
● More power to budget-holding lead professionals.
● Council champions for looked after  children.

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