Warwickshire County Council’s Fostering Service has undertaken an internal review of its service to look at how it can better meet the needs of children and young people in its care and when placed with foster carers. The review concluded that by developing, adapting and modernising the service, fostering for Warwickshire would become more financially viable for people who wish to foster. Foster carers would also benefit from an increased level of support. Warwickshire has set the target to provide an additional 60 new placements for children in care in the county by 31 March 2020.
The Fostering Service carried out the last review of its service in the late 1990s which put Warwickshire at the forefront of best practice at that time. The service was rated as ‘good’ with ‘outstanding’ elements in subsequent Ofsted inspections, the latest being in 2011. Since the last review, the environment has changed dramatically with an increasing number of children and young people being ‘looked after and some young people having complex needs. The environment in which the local authority is trying to recruit foster carers is also increasingly competitive.
Over the last 20 years the fostering service has made many changes, including the introduction of the ‘payment for skills’ scheme in 2002 and the establishment of the QCF Centre (rated as ‘excellent’ by City and Guilds) which allows foster carers to gain their Diploma Level 3 Children and Young People.
The current review of the service involved listening to what existing foster carers and young people in Warwickshire had to say about the support provided and what improvements could be made. It concluded that Warwickshire has a sound fostering service meeting the needs of the majority of the children and young people. However the recommendations for the future include:
- Developing a scheme whereby foster carers could receive both fostering allowances and fees from the beginning of their fostering career
- Providing more support for carers, particularly when they start to care for a child – to include support from other foster carers, social care workers and psychological input.
- To increase the frequency of support and supervision visits for foster carers.
- Developing a scheme that uses the skills of existing foster carers to offer support to other carers as Fostering Service Ambassadors. These carers will also talk to people who are thinking about fostering to tell them what is like to foster and what it means to foster for Warwickshire.
Cllr Les Caborn, Portfolio Holder for Health said
“Warwickshire’s Fostering Service continues to strive to be at the forefront of best practice. The fostering service review provided the perfect opportunity for foster carers and staff to have their say on how we can improve outcomes for the young people we look after.”
Cllr Dave Parsons, Chair of the Children & Young People Overview & Scrutiny Committee said
“We want to ensure that all of our foster carers are fully supported in their role, in order to provide the highest level of care for our most vulnerable children and young people in Warwickshire.”
For more information on fostering for Warwickshire’s Fostering Service please visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/fostering or our Facebook page (Warwickshire-County-Council-Fostering). For direct enquiries please contact Central Fostering on Freephone 0800 408 1556 or complete the online enquiry form at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/fostering.