This week the NSPCC called for the Government to publish detailed data revealing how many children in each English local authority area re-enter care after a return home fails.
Department for Education national figures show a third of looked after children (not just fostered children) who went home were returned to care within five years. The NSPCC says the Department for Education should also release the authority-by-authority data as they say it will help councils benchmark their rates of return of children and identify practice and processes that need improving.
Some recommendations for a sucessful return home
- The child’s wishes should, where possible, be taken in to account when considering a return home.
- Contact between the fostered child and their family should be well-supported, creative and have a focus on building relationships between the foster carer, the child and their family.
- The return home should be extremely well planned, with support being offered by the fostering service and other relevant services for an extended period of time.
- The return home should be phased, perhaps a couple of days a week at first, for as long as it takes to ensure success.
- The fostering placement should be held open for a period of time, with the option of using it to provide respite or, in the case of the return home being unsuccessful, a return to a familiar foster carer. This could include a retainer for the foster carer to facilitate keeping the placement open.
We believe that putting these recommendations in place provides a better chance of children having a smooth and successful transition home, and helps to ensure that there is consistency and familiarity should they have to return into the care system.