Boost to education of foster children

The government is to tackle the educational underachievement of
children looked after by foster carers through its new national
minimum standards for fostering services.

All local authority fostering services, independent fostering
agencies and voluntary organisations will have to adhere to the 27
national standards published in a Department of Health consultation
this week.

The educational needs of children and young people in foster
care are addressed by standard 12. It says: “The fostering service
gives a high priority to meeting the educational needs of each
child or young person in foster care and ensures that she or he is
encouraged to attain her or his full potential.”

It adds that all fostering services must ensure that their
foster carers provide an environment for the child or young person
that values education and learning.

The 27 standards place an emphasis on a high level of competency
and experience for fostering services’ management staff. Standard
one says all managers of fostering services must possess “a
professional qualification relevant to working with children, which
must either be NVQ level 4 or the Diploma in Social Work or

Fostering services also have to ensure that children, young
people and their families are provided with services that promote
equality and diversity. Standard seven says: “Each child and her or
his family have access to foster care services which recognise and
address her or his needs in terms of gender, religion, ethnic
origin, language, culture, disability and sexuality.”

Paul Snell, director of independent voluntary fostering agency
Foster Plus, welcomed the standards and said they were the first
step towards high quality services for looked-after children on a
national level.

He said: “We are pleased that children in foster care in local
authorities and independent agencies will, probably for the first
time, be awarded the same protection and standards of care that all
other children have.”

Snell added that the inclusion of standard 12 meant that all
fostering services had to put the educational needs of children and
young people first. He said: “This clarity of view will lead to a
clarity of work. Not all agencies work to this standard and local
authorities need to be clear and work with independent agencies
that do.”

The consultation document also includes a draft of the Fostering
Service Regulations 2001 that, with the national standards, replace
the Foster Placement (Children) Regulations 1991.

The regulations are due to come into force on 1 April 2002 and
will be overseen by the National Care Standards Commission. All
fostering service providers must comply with the regulations, which
cover the conduct of fostering services, the approval of foster
parents, placements, local authority visits and schedules.

The consultation period ends on 16 October 2001.

Fostering Services – National Minimum Standards and
Fostering Services Regulations

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