Agenda item

Annual Report of Fostering Service and Panel; & Review of Fostering Services & Escalation Policy for Foster Carers


The Corporate Parenting Panel considered the Annual Report of Fostering Service and Panel together with the Review of Fostering Service and Escalation Policy for Foster Carers report, which provided an overview of the overall aim of the Fostering Service, providing a range of high quality, safe and aspirational foster placements that met the needs of Children Looked After. The Panel received a detailed overview from the Service Manager of Early Help, Brian Amos.


The Panel welcomed the reports and discussed the report in further detail.


In response to queries raised by the Panel, the Service Manager of Early Help and the Interim Director of Early Help and Children’s Social Care clarified the following:


-        The fostering carer recruitment was brought back to in-house, recruiting a minimum of thirty carers.

-        The fostering recruitment had a very good response as the service expanded to team managers with supervising social workers.

-        There were 222 fostering households to date and 691 young people placed in a variety of placements in accordance with their care plan.

-        48% of Croydon children in care were placed with in-house foster carers, the remainder were placed with independent fostering agencies (IFA), residential units or in semi-independent accommodation, with some being placed at home with their parents and a number placed for adoption.

-        There were a number of carers who had deregistered from fostering, with reason such as ill-health or retirement amongst others.

-        The pandemic had impacted the financial difficulties to the fostering service. There were more training and exploring of different ways for better value for money; though there were difficulties in the take up of training.

-        The escalation policy and the implications of fostering showed evidence of change and it was highlighted that there was plenty work to do.

-        There were 45% of the young children cared for by the independent foster carers. The process acquired every foster carer who had vacancy to be approached and matched, to the needs for the children; if the match was not appropriate there would be no placement.

-        The number of Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) carers commissioned were fifty-one, though the agency had their own fostering social workers as well as the children having their own social worker. The supervising social workers were employed and remunerated by IFA. It was unknown whether there were any ex-council workers employed with the agency. Additionally, the South London Commissioning Programme (SLCP) was working to remove competition and working on a borough basis where the service needed to be more cohesive in addressing what foster carers required and what was not being delivered. With 48% of in-house fostering service, it was deemed that foster carers were not aware of the different types of placements and therefore IFAs were chosen to deliver the service; going forward the Children Social Care was striving for more in-house fostering service than sourcing outside.


Members of the Panel were pleased to learn that Croydon was building a skilled based on foster carers across the borough.


During the consideration of the recommendations, the Panel discussed the following:


-        It would be beneficial for connected carers to be introduced at the foster carers association.

-        More in-depth information of the child’s culture, beliefs and ethnicity needed to be addressed in the assessments to signify the importance of the young person who was being cared for. Cultural genograms had been encouraged in all assessments to celebrate history and culture of a child.

-        The Chair added that the key focus on placement stability was also the same in staffing of foster carers working for a local authority or IFAs, to ensure that there was a clear mechanism for communication channels opened between all services, to communicate with workers within Children’s Social Care, in particularly the out-of-hours service. Officers advised that there were no known gaps in the efficiency of safeguarding practices provided by foster carers in-house and with the IFAs who also followed service procedure. There were clear protocols in place for working with the out-of-hours service, missing children, allowances, activities, contacts and so forth.


ACTION: For an updated list of names of managers of the Children’s Social Care to be circulated with the Panel.


-        Members of the Panel highlighted the issue of the Emergency Duty Team (EDT) out-of-hours service, which drew concerns in the past and across the service and should be an area to review in the future in terms of support to foster carers. Further concerns included the missing policy and the clarity of how to record a missing child. Officers noted the challenges and were working very closely with other services to provide a better service in how a missing procedure was applied.


The Chair thanks officers for a very thorough and detailed report.


The Panel RESOLVED to note the two reports.


Supporting documents: