The government has asked Sir Martin Narey to carry out a review of the fostering system.
Martin Narey carried out a similar review of residential care, concluding that the role of residential care is misunderstood and the contribution of children’s homes is ‘too easily dismissed’.
The Secretary of State has asked Narey along with experienced children and families social worker Mark Owers to carry out a National Fostering Stocktake.
Narey is the former chief executive of Barnardo’s and has advised the government on a number of social work-related issues. Owers spent the last 10 years in the public, voluntary and private sector helping to improve children's social care and youth justice in England. He has experience in leading national reviews of public services having spent three years in the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit and Cabinet Office.
“The aim of this review is to build a comprehensive picture of what the fostering system looks like in England and where and how it could be improved to achieve ambitious outcomes for children,” said a briefing. “The review will help us to improve our understanding of current provision and how placements are made, where the system works well and what can be learned nationally from good practice.”
There are 51,850 children in foster placements in England. The Secretary of State for Education announced the government’s intention to review the fostering system in ‘Putting Children First’ in July 2016. Narey and Owers are initially seeking views on the current state of foster care in England and how the prospects of children in care might be improved through changes to fostering.
The reviewers intend to explore the following:
- The types of fostering that are currently provided, in order to understand the full range of provision which is available and when and for which young people it is best used.
- What works best within fostering settings to improve outcomes for the children and young people placed.
- What improvements could be made to the way that fostering provision is commissioned, delivered, regulated and inspected to improve outcomes and value for money.
- The status, role and function of foster carers in relation to other professionals as part of the team working with a child in care.
- How the experiences of young people can be improved when entering foster care, transitioning between placements (between carers or into other settings), and leaving foster care.
- Any other issues which might contribute to better outcomes for children.
The reviewers would like to hear from practitioners, academics, foster carers and children in care and children and adults who have left care about what might be done to make fostering more effective in meeting the needs of the children.
The Stocktake is due to conclude in December 2017. Please send responses to Stocktake.FOSTERING@education.gov.uk.