Corporate director of family services at Wakefield council Elaine McHale says the council has developed an action plan to address the recommendations raised by report author Brian Parrott. Below are some extracts of issues raised in the report, its recommendations, plus some of the points in the action plan.
The report says early placements to same-sex couple Craig Faunch and Ian Wathey were made to give them experience and to meet other foster carers’ needs, rather than the individual needs of the children. It recommends that the matching of children with foster carers should be based on the needs of the child, the capacity of foster carers and a mindset of ‘risk assessment’.
The council is now using a revised placement form that includes a section on matching considerations.
The report notes that the independent reviewing team struggled with sickness and vacancies and foster care reviews were the lowest priority of the three areas of responsibility. It recommends that there must be robust administrative and quality assurance arrangements for ensuring reviews take place on time and are undertaken appropriately to the circumstance of the foster carers and the children placed.
Annual reviews are carried out on foster carers and the council is reviewing its training programme for fostering social workers and independent reviewing officers.
The report says that there was a real concern that any criticism of the carers would be seen as homophobic and Faunch and Wathey had acquired a status as “trophy carers”. It recommends that social workers must be capable and confident to deal with issues of sexuality in all people and all relationships with which they are working.
The council’s action plan says it has developed training and made staff aware that specialist advice on gay and lesbian foster carers is available from Baaf Adoption and Fostering.
The report says that management failed to deal with issues of staff competence or sickness, leading to “organisational malaise” where poor performance was complained about but tolerated. It recommends that there must be effective arrangements for dealing proactively with issues of underperformance, incapability and recurrent sickness absences and this must be agreed at all levels in the organisation.
In its action plan the council says it has tools in place to deal with sickness and capacity procedures.
The council’s full action plan