Children left with unchecked carers

Children in private foster care could be at risk because councils
are waiting up to five months for police checks on their carers.

The delays may leave children in private foster placements for
several months before local authorities can be sure about carers’

In Swindon, a “significant” number of Criminal Records Bureau
checks on its 25 private foster parents are outstanding, including
one since April. In Leicester, three checks are outstanding, two of
them for nearly 14 weeks.

People intending to foster a child privately are supposed to advise
their local authority of a proposed placement six weeks before it
is due to start, giving time for checks to be carried out.

Felicity Collier, chief executive of Baaf Adoption and Fostering,
described this six-week checking period as “critical”.

“Local authorities trying to follow best practice in doing these
checks within the time frame are being hindered from doing it
properly by the CRB delays,” she said.

Social workers in the fostering sector said that to prohibit all
private arrangements until checks were available was impractical as
it would deter carers from informing councils about placements in
the first place.

The government announced this week it was to send in a team of
troubleshooters to 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.

The independent team, comprising Westminster Healthcare founder
Patrick Carter, Whitehall computer expert Ron Skelly and former
Companies House chief executive John Holden, will review

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