Councils are threatening foster carers that they will remove children from their care unless they apply for a special guardianship order, a parliamentary committee was told yesterday.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of TACT, the largest charitable fostering agency in England and Wales, told the children, schools and families select committee that carers had said that they had been urged to move into special guardianship.
Under special guardianship, the child is no longer the responsbility of the local authority, and carers are able to make decisions about day-to-day living. They were introduced under the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and give special guardians legal parental responsibility but, unlike adoption orders, do not completely remove parental responsibility from birth parents.
Councils must be judged on long-term placements
Fostering Network chief executive Robert Tapsfield, who also gave evidence as part of the committee’s inquiry into looked-after children’s services, said the Department for Children, Schools and Families should require councils to count the number of their children in long-term foster placements.
Currently local authorities are only judged on the numbers of adoptions and special guardianship orders, which was “not helpful”, he said.
Later, Williams said children in care were often criminalised by the system as a result of committing minor crimes when they vented their frustrations by breaking a window in their residential placement or running away from foster care and being reported missing to the police.