Adults working with children in care want more specialist training, survey finds

Ofsted survey of professionals, carers, parents and children in care also showed how foster carers struggle to get information about a child before a match

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Adults working with children in care want more training – with extra focus on specialisms – to be delivered more regularly, an Ofsted survey has found.

The watchdog’s survey of services for children who lived in care found that parents, carers, adopters and professionals working with children felt that, to improve the lives of children in foster and residential care, specialist training had to be offered in the specific needs of children in foster care, children’s home and for adopters.

Foster carers and adopters should be offered training at more flexible times, like evenings and weekends, the survey found, and foster carers should have the option to complete training online.

Communication problems

Ofsted published two surveys that canvassed the views of professionals and parents involved in the care system and young people living in foster and residential homes. More than 23,400 adults shared views, as did 3,271 children.

Many social workers and independent reviewing officers voiced dissatisfaction with whether their views were taken into account with regard to improving fostering services, with 30% disagreeing that they were asked about these services.

Children told Ofsted they generally felt safe in their foster or residential homes, but 48% said staff didn’t always make good decisions about who else lives in the home.

Responses by children were, in general, overwhelmingly positive, although the survey identified that children in residential homes were less positive about being given a say in their care, and that staff in residential homes weren’t as likely as those in foster homes to make changes to their care because of children’s views.

Views taken into account

One in five foster carers also disagreed that their views were taken into account with regard to improving fostering services, and more than 2,000, 40%, said they weren’t able to find out useful things about their foster child before they entered the home.

Each survey produced common themes, for what was good or required improvement in children’s homes, fostering services, and adoption services.

Key areas that needed improving among adults and professionals were communication, the facilities available in children’s homes, the recruitment and retention of staff, and the recruitment of foster carers and adopters. Training, activities for children and the provision of support for children and young people, foster carers and adopters, were also areas that needed addressing.

Children said that residential and foster care were good if they felt safe and looked after, staff put them first, they felt like part of a foster family, had fun things to do and good food to eat, and they had independence, responsibility, and a say in their care.

Eleanor Schooling, Ofsted’s national director of social care, said the survey would help identify where improvement could be made in the system.

“Children know what has made a difference to their lives, and it is important we all listen to what they have to say,” Schooling said.

“What has been particularly heartening is the overwhelming number of positive responses from children and young people about the care and support they have received.”

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