Raising standards in foster care
26 May 2012
As Foster Care Fortnight 2012 (14-27 May) comes to an end this weekend, we explain how our latest revisions to the inspection of fostering services places the spotlight even more firmly on the welfare and safety of children and young people.
Better inspection arrangements
This April, after taking into account the views of children and young people, foster carers and professionals, we made further improvements to our arrangements for inspecting the fostering services that local authorities and independent agencies provide. One of the key changes is that inspectors focus much more on the views and experiences of those using the service and on the progress children and young people make. We have also introduced new online questionnaires to gather the views of children, young people, birth relatives and foster carers as well as other interested parties.
Our trained social care inspectors talk to social workers, staff, children, young people and foster carers to find out whether children and young people in foster care have been placed in suitable placements within good time and whether they are being looked after properly and making progress. They also look at the impact on children from the training and support that agencies provide to foster carers. They read case files and examine other evidence but they do not visit foster carers’ homes as this is an inspection of the fostering service provider not individual foster carers. Inspectors have to report honestly and clearly, ensuring that the judgements they make are fair and reliable and based on clear evidence and promote the best interests and well-being of service users.
Focusing on the child
We inspect the quality of services and whether the placements made are stable, appropriate and of benefit to children and young people. For example: Do children and young people feel valued and welcomed? Have they been helped to achieve their potential; to develop or maintain a positive self-view; to make and maintain sound relationships where appropriate, with their family, friends and foster carers; and if it’s in their best interests, have they been placed with their siblings? We also look at what safeguards are in place to ensure that unsuitable people do not have unsupervised contact with children and young people. We check that leaders and managers are monitoring the quality and impact of the services, are continually striving to improve them and making sure that effective partnerships have been forged with all those involved with the children and young people.
At the end of the inspection, inspectors give feedback to service providers about their initial findings including the strengths and weaknesses that they have found. They discuss the requirements that services need to fulfil and recommend how they can improve further.
How fostering can make a difference
There are increasing numbers of children coming into care and an ongoing shortage of foster carers. It is estimated that every 22 minutes a child in the UK comes into care and needs a foster family. Foster carers can make a huge difference to the lives of children and young people by providing them, often at difficult times in their lives, with stability, care, love and support in a safe, secure and nurturing family environment.
If you are thinking about becoming a foster carer and would like more information or have any questions, visit: www.couldyoufoster.org.uk/foster-care-fortnight.
The resources below link to further information on our website. You can find out more about our arrangements for inspecting fostering services and there is a report about what children and young people told us during our consultation last year.