A new resource has been launched to help social workers find long-term fostering placements.
Placement Link, developed by the company behind Adoption Link, will allow social workers who are looking to place children to search all available long-term fostering placements listed on the website.
Adoption Link is used in 80% of local authorities, and Placement Link is a very similar tool that will roll straight in to a council’s Adoption Link license at no extra cost and on to the same website.
Local authorities can make a profile for the child they want placed, and then find suitable carers based on the profiles returned after submitting specific search criteria. This can work locally, regionally, nationally or within a specific distance of the local authority.
Andy Leary-May, chief executive of Link Maker, which created both services, said it would enable social workers to source appropriate fostering placements without having to constrain the process by looking at only a small number of potential foster carers in their local area.
“Here is the child, here are the needs, and here are all of the available placements that could meet those needs well. Finance and commissioning arrangements may come in to the decision making but at least they have the visibility of all options there from the outset,” he said.
Leary-May added: “Our view, and the view of many, is the most child-centred approach would actually be to look at all available placements.”
The system works both ways, so long-term foster carers can identify children who they think they could care for.
If they make an enquiry, “that alerts the child’s social worker that there is some interest. They can then view the foster carer’s profile and if they think that might be something they want to pursue, then they can,” Leary-May explained.
The secure system gives local authorities and foster carers the space to transfer carer files, and other details to help the matching process.
The Fostering Network will provide advice and support to foster carers who use the service, and all UK foster carers can register for free to find other foster carers in their area, and build their local support network.
Link Maker plans to launch a similar resource for short-term foster placements and residential homes early next year.