The Case for Change Call for ideas APAC - #4

13 December 2021

Date of submission 16/11/2021

Assurance: Parents and Carers (APAC) www.assurancepac.co.uk

APAC #1a Call for ideas: Stabilise Current Care Provision.

The Case for Change, ‘call for ideas’ asks for ‘deliverable reforms that make the most effective use of resources’, we submit therefore, the notion that each Local Authority Fostering Service are required to carry out an Independent Audit with their currently approved Foster Carers, including Kinship Carers, Special Guardians, Pre-Adoptive Carers and Shared Care Carers.

This Independent Audit should determine how satisfied are they with the Local Authority Fostering Service, what percentage likelihood is there that they will continue in their role for the next 5 years and what elements of the current relationship (multi choice) would they like to see change in order to increase the likelihood to 100% (bearing in mind certain unpredictable / unavoidable changes).

Those Carers that agree to take part will be immediately contacted by a member of our audit team and asked a series of standard questions. Answers will be analysed and fed back anonymously, so to provide for Local Authority Fostering Services, a road map of satisfaction or improvements to establish stability and potential increased recruitment conversion rates.

Building on Ofsted’s, National Director Yvette Stanley’s comments (November 2020) APAC believes that understanding and addressing the 16,555 ‘unavailable’ households would close the current 8,600 shortfall in provision considered too low to allow for matching (Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers).

APAC #1b What Impact will this achieve?

This low-cost telephone audit will achieve high impact results in the short, medium, and long term. Stabilising the current care provision in this way, will deliver sustainable and accountable local in-house Care to the children and young people most in need of support. It will potentially allow for planned returns from Independent Agency provision thereby cut costs and contribute to the ‘strengthen families’ agenda by promoting face to face contact.

Desired outcomes include; Social Care Experienced (SCE) children and young people remain stable in their households; Fostering Household choice is increased; Foster Carers / Kinship Carers etc feel valued and supported; Satisfaction leads to retention leads to recruitment; Directors and Lead Members clarify budget for improvements; Directors and Lead Members budget for APAC Membership annually; APAC Membership delivers a ‘Collective arm around’ additional layer of support to current and future Parents and Carers (see website for details); Local commercial retailers sign up to the APAC Promise, in recognition to Parents and Carers of SCE Children and Young People for their lifestyle choice.

Debra Gibbs, Founder of Fostering Support Ltd and Assurance: Parents and Carers (APAC)

Date of submission 25/11/2021

Assurance: Parents and Carers (APAC) www.assurancepac.co.uk

APAC #2a Call for ideas: Response to Audit
Building on APAC idea #1a Nationwide Independent Audit of currently approved Foster Carers, available to foster and currently unavailable, APAC idea #2 is to act on that feedback. Taken in the context of Recruitment ‘from scratch’ or placing outside of the Local Authority, the financial and emotional costs involved for targeted improvement may prove surprisingly low. Our article ‘Swim against the tide’ (www.assurancepac.co.uk) calls for cessation of following old tributaries, tried with disheartening regularity, to recruit new Foster Carers (and in this case new Adoptive Parents) where clear evidence illustrates those enquiries to either vocation are not converting into applications.

We are delighted to see a £1m grant going to Kinship peer support projects announced by Will Quince Children and Young Peoples Minister in recognition of the added value in supporting relationships; Assurance Parents and Carers advocate a ‘collective arm around carers’ in this same way. My own experience of using a peripatetic Carer to support me to foster my sibling group of three by ‘parachuting in’ as and when required, was echoed in the Case for Change discussion group (24.11.21) and for very little additional cost saved the placement, supporting 5 children whilst I could concentrate on reassuring one other.

APAC #2b What Impact will this achieve?
We believe the impact to be immeasurable. Ofsted figures 2019/2020 identified 20% of approved Foster Homes were unavailable for reasons unknown. This represents a wasted human resource, a reduction in placement choice, a negative impact on word of mouth recruitment and crucially, benighted stories of possible placement disruption. All we need is for a sample group of Local Authorities to lead the way and this local initiative can be disseminated Nationally, saving £1000’s.

Increased Placement Choice is quite clearly a big part of the solution to an otherwise downhill spiral of disruption. So too will be a matching criterion which promotes time being taken to provide welcome information, pre-placement visits, consulting with birth family and host family in a meaningful way, prior to placement; most people take longer choosing a holiday than children and young people get to agree their next family. Emergency Protection Orders are thankfully rare, the majority of placement decisions can be made in consultation, so long as there is an element of choice. Let’s believe in better.

Assurance: Parents and Carers (APAC) www.assurancepac.co.uk

Date of submission 09/12/2021

APAC #3a Call for ideas: Direct Social Work

As reported in Children and Young People Now (October 28th 2021) Social Care Experienced Children and Young People need to know that their Social Worker can take the time to understand their wishes and feelings. Care Leaver Lauren Parker wrote a moving piece titled ‘Why social workers need to show children they care’ (see www.assurancepac.co.uk). In this piece for National Care Leavers' Week, Lauren recalls the first time a social worker showed she cared about her - and why it is so important for practitioners to take an interest in the children they work with.

Similarly, Children’s Social Workers are quoted as saying “it isn’t the job that I thought it would be. I currently work as a Looked After Children’s’ social worker and the job involves an awful lot of travelling, it involves an awful lot of bureaucracy and, actually, I do very little work with children, and I came into this work because I love working with children.” (Longitudinal study of local authority child and family social workers Research report July 2020; University of Salford for Department for Education).

There-in is commonality which APAC #3 seeks to address by suggesting that Social Work hours should mimic those of other vital services from 07.00 -15.00, 15.00 – 19.00 or 19.00-07.00 and Voluntary Groups, such as Music Fusion in Havant. Thus, building across teams a specialism which can address a wider range of needs and extends the period available outside of school hours to work with young people.

APAC #3b What Impact will this achieve?

We believe that children and young people will benefit from spending time outside of school hours with their social worker and visa versa, leading to more reflective practice and better outcomes, improved recruitment and retention rates and in turn less instability in the system. Instead of an hour at the nearest McDonalds, lets capitalise on the young person’s interests, like Lauren, lets facilitate as yet untested hobbies and interests like we do with our birth children.

What little boy or girl wouldn’t be excited by climbing into a fire engine, what young person would say no to joining a group of Rappers in their community, for young people and their Social Workers, engaging with Police projects to tackle Child Criminal Exploitation requires cross discipline measures. To affect this, Social Workers should be afforded control over their own budget and their own time. Mimicking the adult that ‘goes the extra mile / shows they care / becomes that special person that turns around the lives’ of social care experienced children and young people. Research suggest that more and more young people are victims of knife crime being trafficked and are joining gangs, this doesn’t only happen 9-5!

 

APAC #4 Call for ideas: Reunification

This, the 4th and final ‘Assurance: Parents and Carers (APAC) idea in the Case for Change consultation, completes the APAC Circle with Reunification. We have suggested idea #1 Audit, #2 Response to Audit, #3 Direct Social Work. APAC Idea #4 is Reunification with birth families.

In her Article (CYPN 25.2.2020) Returning children home from care: what can be learned from local authority data? Charlotte Goddard reported on factors associated with “stable reunification” with birth parents (University of East Anglia) defined as not re-entering the care system for at least two years. Making stable ‘in care’ placements was key to successful reunification; The more care placements a child had, the less likely they were to be successfully returned to their parents. More than nine in 10 – 91 per cent – of children experiencing very few or no changes in placement had a successful reunion with their parents compared with 67 per cent of those who experienced two or more changes per year.

The Case for Change ‘Focus on Stigma’ webcast identified young peoples’ sense of displacement and pain. The ‘Local, Regional, National’ webcast illustrated National Standards, whilst they have their place, are best delivered locally. Whilst ‘Freedom and Responsibility’ recognised the “whole village to raise a child” approach, which, remains relevant as much today as ever before. APAC believes that Shared Care, Peripatetic Care, Community Groups, Schools, Businesses and Neighbourhoods should be responsible for this, whilst Statutory Services such as Police, Schools, Children’s Safeguarding should have the Freedom to allocate support from those responsible including themselves.

APAC #4b What Impact will this achieve?

In order to make more visible the children and young people who may need protection, before or after Care, Local Community development needs to be encouraged and coordinated. Social Workers need the time for reflective practice and support to manage risk, whilst DBS checked, trained and supported members of the Local Community need co-ordination. The impact of this will be felt morally, emotionally, physically and financially.

As discussed by NSPCC publication ‘Promoting the wellbeing of children in care’ Getting reunification right means that returning home should be a safe and positive experience. The costs of providing robust assessments tied to appropriate support are dwarfed in comparison with the costs of the child remaining in or re-entering care. Our work with local authorities shows that there is an increasing recognition of what good reunification practice looks like and a commitment to putting children’s best interests at the heart of decision-making.

Assurance: Parents and Carers are looking to on board people locally, who can ‘put a collective arm’ around Parents, Carers, Kinship or SGO, shared carers and birth families to benefit children and young people at risk or in care.

Tags:

© Assurance: Parents and Carers 2022

Website by Kontrolit