County Council’s foster care service has been given the thumbs up
following a rigorous review.
seven-month Best Value review of Warwickshire’s Family Placement
Service (fostering) found the service to be sound and that the council
had invested wisely in it.
review recommended the service continue to be provided by the
council’s Social Services Department together with a series of
improvements to the service.
review was overseen by a steering group, of county council officers and
a representative from the government’s Social Services Inspectorate,
and a six-strong councillor panel.
Haines, Director of Warwickshire Social Services, said:
am very pleased that this rigorous review found that we provided a
was particularly glad to learn that, overall, young people in our care
saw fostering as a positive experience and that carers enjoyed their
the review also flagged up a number of areas of improvement, and we
are currently putting together proposals to address these.
example, we need to review payments to ensure that we continue to
recruit and retain foster carers.
need to find ways of offering a wider variety of foster placements and
to speed up assessment of potential carers.”
review was examined by the council’s Social Care and Inclusion
Scrutiny and Review Committee.
Richard Hobbs, Chairman of the Committee, said:
corporate parents, it is important that councillors are aware of all
the issues within the fostering service.
review highlighted the very valuable work of foster carers and Social
Services staff, but it also revealed areas for improvement and we will
be monitoring this to see what progress is made in these areas.
of the committee were involved in interviewing staff, foster carers
and looked after young people for the review and they found this a
very valuable experience.”
is the second of three Best Value reviews taking place in Social
Services. The reviews check that
the council is offering the best quality service at a reasonable cost.
young people saw fostering as a positive experience. High levels of
satisfaction were recorded amongst foster carers. Staff thought the
department had good carers for most of the population.
young people wanted more time with social workers and more
information at the time of their placements. Foster carers raised
the issue of pressure on social workers’ time to provide support;
they wanted more joint training with social workers, and they wanted
a review of allowances. Staff wanted greater placement choice.
service compared well with other local authorities. Warwickshire has
one of the highest proportion of children placed in family
placements in the country. 98%
of those foster care placements came from the internal service.
- The costs of external
placements (with foster carers from outside agencies) were shown to be
two-and-a-half times as much as placements with county council foster
is a need to speed up assessment and approval of potential carers.
investment in 1997 has put the service in a good, strong position.
market is not yet strong enough for external competitors to offer a
competitive bid to provide an alternative service. Current payments
cover the cost of caring for looked after children and young people
but do not reward carers.
Warwickshire has 239 foster homes; on 1 October 1999, 234 children were
looked after by the local authority; in 1999-2000 the council spent
£4.2 million on the foster care service.
MORE INFORMATION: Simon Lord