Children’s minister Tim Loughton has called on foster carers to tell him which councils are “excessively bureaucratic” when it comes to allowing them to make day-to-day decisions for the children they foster.
During an interview with ITV’s Tonight programme last night, Loughton told the broadcaster that “myths” existed across children’s services departments about what daily decisions foster carers are, and are not, allowed to make.
It was a myth, he said, that foster carers cannot let children stay overnight with friends unless the friends’ parents have been CRB checked. Also a myth, he said, is that carers need permission before allowing children to have their hair cut.
“If some local authorities are excessively bureaucratic, I want to know,” Loughton said. He also said he would be “battling” for more money for the fostering system, which has a shortage of 10,000 foster carers.
Jackie Sanders, communication manager for the Fostering Network, told Community Care that while some restrictions were myths, they still represented the experiences of many foster carers and fostered children across the UK.
“The government has circulated guidance saying that CRB checks are not needed for overnight stays, for example, but this is clearly not being taken on board by all councils. There is still a lot of confusion about the status of foster carers.”
Sanders called for a cultural change within children’s services departments so that social workers understood when they could delegate responsibility to foster carers.
“Although decisions must be made on a case by case basis, foster carers should be able to give their fostered children the same rights in day-to-day caring as their biological children.
“We are delighted to hear Tim Loughton tell ITV he will support this. If councils are going to trust foster carers to look after children, often with very complex needs, then they must trust them to make day-to-day decisions for them,” she said.
Elaine Dibben, adoption and fostercare development consultant at the British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF), pointed out that giving foster carers parental responsibility on day-to-day decisions enabled foster children to have the same opportunities as their peers.
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