Agenda item

Fostering Service - Annual Report 2020/21

Report of the Director of Children and Families



The Committee received a report of the Director of Children and Families containing the Fostering Service - Annual Report 2020/21.




In attendance for this item were Carly Speechley (Director of Children and Families) and Paul Dempsey (Assistant Director - Provider Services).




Paul Dempsey introduced the report, which contained information on the Authority’s vision and aims, looked after children and foster placement data, placement stability, innovations, recruitment and retention activity and outcomes, recruitment plans for 2020/21, support and supervision for carers, the Fostering Panel, developments in 2020/21 and developments and improvements for 2021/22. 




Members of the Committee raised questions, and the following responses were provided:-




·            Whilst it was possible to recruit specialist foster carers for teenagers, it was very difficult on the basis that there were less carers wanting to foster teenagers. Those carers who had just started mainly wanted to look after younger children and/ or children without complex needs. The Authority strived to place as many children as possible into fostering arrangements, including teenagers.




·            There was a private fostering team within the Fostering Service.  The Authority promoted the need for groups and organisations to inform it of any private fostering arrangements, which they were legally required to do.  Part of the role of the private fostering team was to raise awareness of the need for such groups and organisations to inform the Authority of such arrangements. Where cases were reported to the Authority, officers would have to visit the family to make an assessment to ensure that it was a safe arrangement, and liaise with whoever had parental responsibility for the child and the private foster carer, to draw up an agreement between both parties. There were currently only a small number of private fostering arrangements.




·            The Mockingbird Family Based Model of Foster Care does allow for other families to become involved, including families who were not necessarily foster carers.  There could be a model comprising a cluster of seven or eight foster carer households, as well as a birth parent household, if they have had a child recently returned to their care from a foster carer in the cluster, and possibly an adoptive family, who had recently had a child placed from one of those foster carers in the cluster.




·            The possibility of creating a model similar to the Mockingbird Family Model, for adopters, could be explored.  There was a peer mentoring scheme across South Yorkshire, where adopters mentored other adopters, with a number of them being paid as peer mentors.




·            Regional Adoption Agencies were a Government initiative, which had commenced in 2015, based on the concept that a large number of small adoption services would not be an efficient way of running adoption in the country. It was considered that a smaller number of services, that were larger, would be more efficient as they could pool resources and expertise, and it would make it easier to match children with adoptive families.




RESOLVED: That the Committee:-




(a)      notes the contents of the report now submitted, together with the information now reported and the responses to the questions raised; and




(b)      thanks Paul Dempsey and Carly Speechley for attending the meeting and responding to the questions raised and expresses its thanks and appreciation to all staff in the Fostering Service for the excellent work undertaken by them during 2020/21.



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