A charter launched today will help foster carers become pushy parents according to children’s minister Tim Loughton (pictured).
The Foster Carers’ Charter sets clear guidelines on how local authorities, social workers and foster carers work together in future, the minister said. However, it remains unclear what teeth the new charter will have or whether it is simply designed to clarify the new national minimum standards for fostering.
Loughton said the charter tackled the myths that had sprung up in some local authorities on the restrictions around fostered children such as not allowing them to take part in sleepovers or take holidays without criminal records bureau (CRB) checks or express permission from social workers.
“The charter will help to change that. It underlines the huge value we place on foster carers. Not only as role models to the children who look up to them, but also as pushy parents who put those children first. The charter sets out clear principles of what support should be available and what foster carers can expect. I hope every local authority and fostering agency will sign up to the charter. I particularly want local areas to sign up to the spirit of the charter and build on and develop it in their own way to reflect the needs of the local community.”
The charter was developed in conjunction with the British Association of Adoption and Fostering, The Fostering Network and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS). It will also set out how foster carers should be supported in their role, including being provided with full information about the child they are fostering.
Andrew Christie from ADCS said the charter provided “a clear and easily understandable set of principles to guide the relationship between foster carers and the local authority in providing for the needs of some of the most vulnerable children”.
The revised fostering national minimum standards, coming into force next month, clarifies the delegation of authority to foster carers to make day-to-day decisions for foster children unless it does not fit with a child’s care plan. It also sets out when CRB checks need to be undertaken and removes the prescriptions on the use of foster carers by fostering services such as allowing foster carers to act as mentors and trainers.
The government today has also invited local authorities to bid for funding to provide intensive support to looked-after children with complex needs including multi-dimensional treatment foster care, multi-systemic therapy for children on the edge of care, keeping foster and kinship carers safe and supported and functional family therapy for young people with conduct problems.
Loughton today also launched a web tool called “Tell Tim” where young people in care, care leavers or those working in the care system could send their thoughts, ideas and experiences directly to him. But he said he would not be able to intervene in individual cases but would use the facility to guide him on patterns and recurring issues.
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