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Foster Care

In Depth

Special Report: Commissioning Care

Commissioners play a pivotal role in ensuring vulnerable children receive the care they need. However, demand and funding pressures are driving the development of new systems and changes in practice.

Fostering stocktake: six major recommendations for change

The review of foster care by Sir Martin Narey and Mark Owers recommends fundamental changes to the way services are commissioned and delivered, but experts have questioned the rationale for some of the proposals.

Legal Update: Financial support for foster carers

A recent finding of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has provided a helpful reminder for councils of their duties towards friends and family foster carers.

Inspections: Local authority foster care

The number of local authority foster placements rose last year, with Ofsted analysis showing most councils delivering high-quality services with improvements in placement stability and post-18 support.

Legal Update: Cultural matching in foster care

Reports of a child being placed with "inappropriate" foster carers spark fears that placement options for children could be more limited.

Local Spotlight: Birmingham City Council

How England's largest authority is using online and one-to-one promotion to arrest a recent decline in the number of foster carers.

Your guide to the Children and Social Work Act

What the act means for everyday practice across the children's workforce.

Understanding impact of abuse and reviewing care placement options

Review assesses the evidence on the impact of abuse on children and considers the merits of care placement options. The authors summarise the findings, while three organisations outline initiatives to improve decision making.

Children in care attainment tool

How a resource analysing education progress for looked-after children could "revolutionise" support.

Foster care: Policy context

In July 2016, the government announced it was to embark on a national "stocktake" of fostering to identify how the system can be improved.

Ripe for reform

With government pledging to undertake a 'national stocktake' of foster care and MPs conducting their own inquiry, Joe Lepper asks what measures would improve quality of care and outcomes for children.

In a good place

As the number of children in care reaches record levels, Joe Lepper examines the challenge for commissioners to provide children with stable, happy homes that cater to their needs.

Cared-for learning

Emily Rogers looks at some innovative methods to raise the educational attainment of children in care, and reverse the damaging impact of adverse early life experiences on their ability to learn.

Future of foster care: innovation in recruitment and retention

Three out of four children in care are fostered, but the recruitment and retention of foster carers remain key challenges. Charlotte Goddard examines some of the latest pioneering practice.

Good Practice

IFA South Central Framework

Councils and independent providers in southern England strike five-year agreement on managing foster care placements.

Fostered children make film about their lives with care leaver Kriss Akabusi

Digital Life Stories project sees young people collaborate to create a video where children in care can share their experiences.

Lifelong Links

Detailed searches are carried out to identify extended family for children in care.

Mockingbird Family Model

Involves a "hub home carer" offering peer support, respite and social activities to a "constellation" of six to 10 foster families.

Keep Fostering - National Implementation Service

Keep is a training programme that has been delivered to more than 2,000 foster carers, kinship carers and special guardians in England since 2009.

Match Foster Care

Aims to improve fostered children's placement stability and bring their outcomes into line with non-looked-after peers.

Head, Heart, Hands - Aberlour Fostering

Head, Heart, Hands was a UK-wide, three-year programme that aimed to improve foster care by enabling seven fostering organisations to explore a social pedagogy approach.

Innovation for children in care

Amid the multitude of challenges in working with children in care, a huge amount of innovation is taking place across the country. Charlotte Goddard examines three examples of excellent practice.

Behind the Inspection Ratings: Independent fostering agencies

Local authorities are increasing their use of independent fostering agencies to find loving homes for fostered children, but what does latest Ofsted data tell us about the standard of provision?

Guide helps foster better awareness of pet benefits

Following uncertainty by children's services into whether looked-after children should be cared for in homes where pets are kept, a fostering expert has put together a guide to help councils develop more animal-friendly policies.

Neglect in early years can cause lasting brain damage

How neural frameworks that usually develop in young children in an ordinary family environment fail to develop properly in the absence of stimulation.



Safe Foster Care for Victims of Child Sexual Exploitation

This study is the first UK evaluation of specialist foster care for children at risk, or victims, of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and/or trafficking. It investigates how well the Safe Accommodation Project reduced risk and safeguarded these children.

Using Part-Time Fostering as a Family Support Service: Advantages, Challenges and Contradictions

This research examined how support care is provided and the advantages and contradictions in this form of family support. Implications for commissioning and practice are discussed.

Foster-Care Commissioning in an Age of Austerity: The Experiences and Views of the Independent Provider Sector in One English Region

This paper reports findings from a study on the effects of austerity measures on local authority commissioners and independent fostering providers (IFPs) in the year following the coalition government's first Spending Review in 2010. It highlights legal and procedural factors which may present a challenge to effective foster-care provision.

Comparing the Locus of Control of Young People in Foster Care

Research into whether the locus of control of children in foster care differs from that of children who have been adopted, children from disadvantaged backgrounds and children in the general population.

Identifying Inequalities in Child Welfare Intervention Rates

Academics from the universities of Coventry, Sheffield, Huddersfield, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Stirling and Queen's University Belfast received Nuffield Foundation funding to study inequalities in the proportions of looked-after children, or those subject to child protection plans, in the four UK nations.

Adding Evidence to the Ethics Debate: Investigating Parents' Experiences of Their Participation in Research

This paper explores the views of parents and carers involved in an English study into outcomes for children known to children's services.

Reunifying abused or neglected children: Decision-making and outcomes

This longitudinal study examines one of the most critical decisions in social work practice - whether a child removed from home due to poor parenting should be returned.

(In)Sufficient?: ethnicity and foster care in English local authorities

This paper examines the issue of ethnicity in the context of the sufficiency duty to secure adequate local placements for looked-after children.

Reviewing the literature on the breakdown of foster care placements for young people: complexity and the social work task

Factors associated with the breakdown of long-term foster care placements during adolescence, exploring the needs of these looked-after young people and their foster carers.

A critical review of qualitative research into the experiences of young adults leaving foster care services

This paper qualitatively analyses children and young people's narratives (drawn from nine studies) of their experiences of transitions from care to independent living.

Supporting Long-term Foster Care Placements in the Independent Sector

The impact of Match Foster Care's pilot project to improve outcomes by having the local authority delegate certain statutory duties and related decision making to the provider.

The Impact of Unproven Allegations on Foster Carers

Treatment of foster carers during the allegation process and the impact of unproven allegations.