FOSTERING PROVIDERS – WORKING TOGETHER
The problem - The chronic shortage of foster carers in the UK.
There are many thousands of unsuccessful enquiries made to the 800 UK Fostering Providers annually. Simply Fostering estimate that 60% of people who express an interest in fostering, are not taken to the next stage because they do not meet the requirements of the Provider they have contacted. On occasions IFA’s will refer some of these enquirers to their Local Authority, however, this is not reciprocal. The vast majority of unsuccessful enquirers are lost, probably forever.
Reasons why a Fostering Provider decides not to proceed with an enquiry includes the applicant does not live in an area the agency covers, the applicants have younger children of their own or the applicants are only interested in looking after a specific age group.
There are a high number of IFA’s who are looking only to recruit foster carers who have the experience and potential to look after challenging teenagers, as those type of placements are the most common referrals for most IFA’s today.
In July 2009 Simply Fostering launched a new initiative called the ‘Fostering Enquiry Clearing House’. The thinking behind the idea was to try and utilise effectively the foster carer enquiries that were not being used or followed up by Fostering agencies and Local Authorities.
Simply Fostering contacted all of the Fostering Providers nationwide, explaining the reasoning behind the service and suggesting that they arrange to forward their unwanted foster carer enquiries which Simply Fostering would then send to Fostering Agencies whose criteria for assessment might match the enquirer’s circumstances.
As an added incentive, the referring Fostering Providers are paid an administration fee, if the enquirers go on to become approved as foster carers.
To date, only four Independent Fostering Agencies and one Local Authority have shown an interest in the service and have referred enquiries.
A big thank you to Capstone Foster Care who have been at the forefront of referrers having referred 80 enquiries to date. Also the same to Kaleidoscope Foster Care, recently one of their referrals successfully proceeded to assessment and approval with another Agency.
The Fostering Network estimates a shortage of at least 8,200 foster families nationwide. Every potential fostering enquiry is precious. If as a society we are to utilise the resources available to us effectively and provide the choice and diversity of placements needed for children in the care system, all Fostering Providers should be enthusiastic participants in the Simply Fostering’s ‘Fostering Enquiry Clearing House’, and if not, why not?
For more information contact: Annette