‘Make investigations more transparent’

    A UK-wide shortage of foster carers has prompted the Fostering
    Network to start a campaign to improve the handling of allegations
    against foster carers.

    Although insisting children’s welfare was paramount, chair of the
    Fostering Network board David Hadjicostas said its study of 3,000
    foster carers showed that allegations made by fostered children –
    and the way councils and agencies dealt with them – were causing
    fear among foster carers.

    The network is calling for greater transparency in the process for
    dealing with allegations, as set out in the National Minimum
    Standards for Fostering Services 2002
    . This says that
    information about the investigation procedures must be made known
    to local authority staff, foster carers, and children and young
    people. It also says that independent support for foster carers
    during an investigation should be provided.

    The charity is setting up regional forums to collect information on
    issues affecting foster carers, with a view to taking its campaign
    to the government in November, Hadjicostas said. “We need to always
    act in the best interest of the children, but we need councils to
    recognise the families and offer them support as well.”

    The campaign was prompted by research for the Department for
    Education and Skills aimed at improving the status, support and
    training of foster carers as promised by the Every Child
    Matters – The Next Steps
    document, which was published in
    March.

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