Plans to allow councils to delegate provision of children's social services to staff-led mutuals should be extended to cover independent fostering providers, the government has been told.
A consultation on proposals to allow councils to delegate care functions closed last week. Image: Phil Adams
The Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers (NAFP) wants proposals to afford councils the power to delegate care functions to “go much further” by allowing social workers based within independent fostering providers to have more of a say in cases.
The government’s plans as they stand at the moment are designed to make it possible for GP-style social work practice pilots to continue beyond November – when the emergency legislation that was introduced to allow their creation expires.
NAFP chief executive Harvey Gallagher said extending the parameters of delegation available to councils to cover fostering providers would benefit children in care and ease pressure on social work teams.
“What we are suggesting is that the government goes further and recognises that independent fostering providers could take on more looked-after children social work responsibility,” he said.
Gallagher said some local authorities delegate a large degree of responsibility to independent providers in an informal way – with social workers and foster carers acting as the driving force behind care plans. Others maintain a high level of contact.
“Some local authorities are still very risk-averse,” Gallagher said. “Where local authorities and independent providers have got a good relationship, it is possible for something like delegation to go on, but at the moment it can’t fully happen.
“If it were to happen, it would take the pressure off social workers, and more importantly, it means the child in care gets the people who know them best driving their future and what is going to happen to them.”
The call from NAFP features in the organisation’s response to a consultation on the proposed changes, which closed last Thursday (28 February).
The Department for Education has been contacted for a response.