Earlier this year, I met with the clerk of the Education Committee in England to talk about the current state of foster care and to introduce the idea of an inquiry looking at the issues surrounding the foster care workforce.
Select committees are cross-party groups of MPs responsible for the scrutiny of government departments. They decide upon the line of inquiry and then gather written and oral evidence. Findings are printed and then the Government has 60 days to reply to the committee's recommendations.
Therefore an inquiry is an ideal way of bringing issues to the attention of parliamentarians and the Government, and more importantly, getting them to respond.
We spoke to the clerk in detail, covering the issues in our manifesto including the importance of relationships, a professional framework around fostering, and investment. We then submitted a response to the committee's inquiry on social work reform, again highlighting the need for a separate inquiry on foster care.
So when the Education Committee announced an inquiry on fostering last week, we were delighted!
The inquiry will cover:
- The recruitment and retention of foster carers, and the capacity of the fostering system.
- Stability of foster care placements, including the impact of the Staying Put initiative since its introduction.
- The role of voluntary and independent foster care providers, and their relationships and cooperation with local authorities.
- The foster care market, including the costs of commissioning of services, financial incentives in the recruitment of foster carers.
- The sufficiency of current recognition, support and recompense given to foster carers.
- Foster care for young people with specific or challenging needs, and its relationship with residential care.
- The involvement of young people in their care, including their role in decision making.
- What the Government should consider in its stock take of foster care.
Anyone is welcome to submit a response - and we would encourage our members in England to do so. This is a fantastic opportunity to get your voice heard, please make the most of it.
The closing date for submissions is Friday 25 November. My top tip would be to keep it short and simple! List the main points and try to keep it to two sides - they receive a lot of responses, but they do consider every one.
For any advice or if you have any questions, please do contact my team - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vicki Swain, Campaigns Manager
Stop press: On Saturday 15 October, the Scottish Government announced a 'root and branch' review of the children in care system in Scotland. We warmly welcome this announcement, and will look forward to ensuring the issues that have been raised by foster carers in Scotland through our State of the Nation survey are included in the review. We will also be continuing to press for minimum fostering allowances to be introduced in Scotland as soon as possible. This must not be delayed any further because of this review.