Police check delays could put children in private foster care at risk

Children in private foster care could be at risk because
councils are having to wait up to five months for police checks on
carers, writes Derren Hayes.

In Swindon, a significant number of Criminal Records Bureau
checks on the council’s 25 private foster parents are outstanding,
one since April. While in Leicester, three checks are outstanding,
two for nearly 14 weeks.

The delays mean children may be in private foster placements for
several months before checks are returned, with local authorities
unsure as to the backgrounds of many of them.

People intending to privately foster a child must advise local
authorities of the proposed placement six weeks before its due to
start, giving time for checks to be carried out. But local
authorities are not informed about many private placements partly
because of ignorance and lack of understanding in the wider

Felicity Collier, chief executive of Baaf Adoption and
Fostering, said the six week checking period was “critical”.

“Local authorities which are trying to follow best-practice in
doing these checks within the time frame are being hindered from
doing it properly by this problem,” she added.

Graham Senior, family placement manager at Swindon council, said
the delays put councils in a difficult position.

“There are a lot of children already in placements and therefore
the potential is for children to be at risk,” he adds.

* The government is to send in a team of troubleshooters to try
and turn around the beleaguered CRB, after Capita, the private firm
jointly running the agency, said the home office was equally to
blame for the delays fiasco. The independent team, which will be
lead by businessman Patrick Carter, who founded Westminster Health
Care, and will also include Whitehall computer expert Ron Skelly,
and former Companies House chief executive John Holden, will review
operational issues.

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