Foster carer recruitment and retention directory released

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A directory of case studies and support discussing the recruitment and retention of foster carers, aimed at both independent and local authority fostering services, has been released following a two year programme, part run by The Fostering Network, and funded by the Department for Education.

Supporting Fostering Services to Recruit and Retain Foster Carers is a comprehensive directory detailing the challenges and successes experienced by the fostering services who took part in the project. 

Funds were initially awarded to West Yorkshire: Calderdale Council, Core Assets, Fostering Yorkshire and Leeds City Council. South: Oxfordshire Council, PACT and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. North West: Barnardo’s, Core Assets and Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Warrington and Wirral councils. The Fostering Network was also commissioned to develop a suite of resources to support fostering services as part of the programme of activity. This work included supporting 26 local authority fostering services to produce bespoke local action plans, informed by the resources, to improve the recruitment and retention of foster carers.

Each consortium was required to consist of at least one independent fostering provider and one local authority, encouraging joint working and best practice sharing across the sector.

An additional consortium of Doncaster Children’s Services Trust, Fostering People, By the Bridge, TACT, Start Fostering with Parallel Parents, The Fostering Care Co-Operative, Fostering Solutions were awarded funding for 2014-15. 

James Foyle, recruitment and retention consultant at The Fostering Network, said: “The case studies and findings from the work undertaken will help to inform fostering services nationally on how they can identify and implement actions to improve recruitment and retention of foster carers locally. 

“This collaborative approach to recruitment and retention is vital for the sector and could lead the way towards more cohesive and fruitful relationships between fostering services that will hugely benefit foster carers and the lives of the children in their care.”

Edward Timpson MP, children’s minister in England, said: “This directory pulls together key strategies developed over the life of the project to encourage and support people with the right skills and experience, to come forward and offer some of our most vulnerable children an opportunity to experience a loving, stable family life. 

“For example, by carrying out a thorough needs analysis of their local area to identify gaps in provision, the consortia were able to develop targeted recruitment strategies and support existing carers. Using their existing foster carers as local service ambassadors, services have shown how valuable it can be to have foster carers involved in all stages of the recruitment process, helping to build relationships and a healthy foster carer workforce.”

You can download the full directory from The Fostering Network website, and fostering services can sign up to Attracting and Keeping Carers to find out the latest innovations in foster carer recruitment and retention by emailing james.foyle@fostering.net