The Case for Change Call for ideas APAC
06 December 2021
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.
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.