Social enterprise Link Maker has launched a new national platform for the commissioning of care placements for all children.
Link Maker was formed in 2014 by adoptive parents, and the website was initially launched for adoption. It is now responsible for the majority of inter-agency adoptive placements across the UK, and is used by nearly every local authority and independent agency.
From 1 November 2016, the same platform will help to find fostering and residential placements. Providers can make live details of their vacancies available on the site for all authorities to find – or they can offer vacancies to a select group within a framework arrangement for example.
Link Maker’s chief executive, Andy Leary-May, said: 'We think we have proved the case in adoption for a national platform. The old, fragmented assortment of systems wasn’t efficient, and couldn’t find placements at greater distance. We know that for many children the widest range of options is essential.
'The landscape in fostering and residential care is very different, with organisational and financial factors playing a larger part in placement choice. We have accommodated current processes, but at the same time we hope to open the door to new ways of working, where meeting a child’s individual needs can be higher up the agenda.'
In October 2015, Link Maker extended its family-finding system to include long-term fostering, and many placements have been identified in that time. Foster carers can still register individually on Link Maker to view profiles of children seeking permanence, and to use the community features.
With their user accounts, foster carers can find others near them to chat, or to arrange playdates. They also have access to the ‘Q&A’, a knowledge base used by both families and practitioners to ask questions of each other and share advice. Support staff from The Fostering Network are ready to add their advice online.
Link Maker is providing the new commissioning platform free of charge to both local authorities and providers until 31 March 2017. For further information, and to register to use the system, visit www.linkmaker.co.uk