The government has launched a consultation to identify how current foster care provision can be improved.
The Department for Education has appointed Martin Narey and Mark Owers to review the status, role and function of foster carers in relation to other professionals. The stocktake will also examine what works best in fostering and how the experiences of young people can be improved.
The consultation, which runs until 16 June, seeks the views of practitioners, academics, foster carers, children in care and care leavers. It comes after the education committee’s fostering inquiry heard its final evidence last week. The committee is investigating the recruitment and retention of foster carers, the stability of the current system and foster care market.
Children’s services leaders have expressed concerns over fostering agencies using ‘golden hellos’ to incentivise foster carers to leave council-run services, then charging councils inflated rates for the carers.
In a speech earlier this month, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, Alison Michalska said the sector should look “long and hard at the costs of fostering placements”. She said the fostering stocktake would also play an important part in reducing the use of long distance placements for children in care.
“75% of children in care are in foster placements, many of those placements are out of the immediate local authority area. Sometimes that’s necessary and a good thing for the child concerned; often it’s because of a lack of more local placement capacity.”
Children’s minister Edward Timpson said the stocktake would help the government better understand current provision “so that every child gets the stable, nurturing home environment they deserve”.