review of fostering and placement services announced by the
Department of Health last week has been welcomed by children’s
review, unveiled in a speech by health minister Jacqui Smith at the
National Quality Protects Conference in Birmingham, will examine
how councils recruit foster carers, as well as the provision of
rewards, training and support. It will also look at helping
councils commission and deliver effective placements, including the
contribution of independent fostering agencies.
review will build on the improvements in the management and
delivery of children’s social services that have been put in place
over the past three years of the Quality Protects programme,” said
Choice Protects review aims to provide stability for children in
foster care – about two-thirds of England’s 58,000 looked-after
children – as well as raise the status of foster carers.
Fostering Network executive director Gerri McAndrew commented:
“Fostering has always appeared to be the ‘poor relation’ in
children’s services, and we are pleased that our calls for it to be
given higher priority have been answered.”
Fostering Network is keen for the review to provide the first
“meaningful” comparison of the costs and benefits of fostering in
the local authority, independent and residential care sectors.
Protects will run in tandem with a review of private fostering,
which Smith announced during the committee stage of the Adoption
and Children Bill.
agreed to the review in response to a proposed amendment that would
have required councils to keep a register of private fostering
arrangements. The amendment had been prompted by concerns raised
last year in BAAF Adoption & Fostering’s A Very Private
Practice report that between 8,000 and 10,000 children in
unregulated private foster care were at risk of physical, social or
sexual abuse. But the amendment was withdrawn following the
past fortnight, the DoH has begun consultation with local
government, children’s organisations and other government
departments over the nature and conduct of the review, which is
expected to report its findings later this year.