National survey of carers announced

    A national assessment of the training, skills and experience of
    foster carers has been announced by the government.

    Education minister Lord Filkin said he planned to build a
    picture of the number and “characteristics” of the UK’s approved
    foster carers.

    In a House of Lords debate on looked-after children last week,
    Lord Filkin said the data would feed into the forthcoming
    children’s workforce strategy.

    He said the quality of support and training to foster carers
    varied greatly and the government needed a better analysis of the

    Felicity Collier, chief executive of Baaf Adoption and
    Fostering, said she was delighted to see training for foster carers
    on the government’s agenda.

    She argued that foster carers should be registered with the
    General Social Care Council, have continuing professional
    development and training, and be paid according to their skills and

    Collier said the number of foster carers in the UK needed to be
    increased from the estimated present number of 38,000 to 45,000,
    and that they had to be highly skilled to look after challenging
    young people.

    During the debate Lord Filkin pledged to set up a round table of
    experts to look at other ways to prevent children being taken into
    care. Family Rights Group chief executive Cathy Ashley, who has
    been approached about the idea by Filkin, said the experts were
    likely to focus on family group conferences, mediation and early
    family support.

    The minister will also meet representatives of the Oregon Social
    Learning Centre, a US research organisation, to discuss their work
    with foster parents and carers, including research into a play
    technique which allows foster parents and carers to better
    understand a child’s preoccupations and thoughts.


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