Following today’s publication of the Government’s response to the consultation on looked-after children: improving permanence in England, The Fostering Network’s policy manager Madeleine Tearse said: “The Fostering Network welcomes the Government's decision to strengthen long-term foster care as a permanence option. Long-term foster care is the permanence option of choice for many children, yet it has not previously had the status or support it requires. The legal changes proposed will help to reinforce security and stability for many fostered children.
“After the major focus on adoption law and practice by the Department for Education, Parliament and the regulator Ofsted, we now call on all to ensure that improvements to long-term foster care become a reality.
“We particularly welcome the proposal to increase the role of foster carers in team decision-making processes. We are, however, disappointed that some issues which are important for foster carers are being left to local discretion, such as the process for assessing support to the placement, whether the decision to confirm a long-term placement is communicated in writing, and whether a permanence policy is published. We are pleased that guidance will include consideration of requests from the child's existing foster carers to be assessed as designated long-term carers when long-term foster care becomes the plan for the child.
“The Fostering Network will seek to use its expertise and influence to support practice improvements which will underpin the direction announced by the Government. While much good practice exists, The Fostering Network's published research demonstrates that this needs to be applied more consistently. The Government's wide-ranging measures include a number of specific areas which will be addressed by practice guidance rather than regulation.”
“The Government states that it has framed its proposals in the context of the social work reforms taking place. This underlines the importance and urgency of addressing the turnover of social workers which is so damaging to foster care, and also of ensuring that social work training includes a sound understanding of foster care.
"We have called for changes to the status and administration of long-term foster care for many years, and have participated in the Department for Education expert group on this matter. We are very pleased with the overall direction of the Government’s proposals which reflect our views and concerns."
You can read the Government's response on the Gov.uk website.