The Residential Services Manager will provide the Board with a presentation on the Annual fostering report.
The Head of Residential Services provided an overview of the Foster Carer data set for 2020/21. He advised that the report sent to the DFE was huge and therefore the information has been streamlined, however if members wished to have the full report could be sent to Members if required.
The Residential Manger provided details in relation to the following:
· Fostering Households – as of 31 March 2021 there were 145 number of households and 264 places.
· Fostering Households by Care type- the Board were advised that those offering longer term placements had reduced and this was part of the recruitment strategy in the future, this included speaking to short term foster carers regarding their terms. There was an increase of foster to adopt and work was underway with a number of connected carers who had a special guardianship order (SGO)
· Number of households approved in the year (and trend)- see above
· Placement use at 31 March 2021- there were currently 160 children placed with foster carers; 45 vacant places; 55 places not available (due to needs of the child or illness of foster carer) and 4 short break placements.
· De-registerations in the year and reasons- 2 foster carers de-registered last year as they decided to care for the children for longer term under a SGO; 11 foster carers left the service or to work in other areas; 11 left due to standard of care issues. The average of de-registrations is about 10% so Middlesbrough is slightly higher, however this could be down to a number of issues.
· Application in the year by status
· Number of not available places at 31 March 2021 and reasons- key information regarding
· Number of Carers at 31 March 2021 by ethnicity- foster carers are predominantly white British (235 out of 248 foster carers) however part of the recruitment strategy was to recruit foster carers from other ethnicities.
· Number of Carers at 31 March 2021 by training status- the training for foster carers has gone from strength to strength. There had been 199 work books completed and the service have developed their own training offer and since this going live there have been 380 courses completed by foster carers. There was a robust training offer and the service was now looking at designing further training surrounding life story work etc.
· Complaints- there had been 1 complaint which was not upheld, this was dealt with swiftly.
· Allegation- 6 allegation were raised (4 made by children and 2 made by other sources)
The Manager finally stated that he wanted to praise the foster carers during the last 18 months due to the unprecedented pressure covid-19 had placed on them. He advised that nationally foster carers numbers were low, however Middlesbrough was working with their partners in practice in North Yorkshire at ways they recruit foster carers and there was currently a recruitment campaign in place.
The Manager had also met with the Commissioner, who had provided details of local authorities who were seeing an increase in foster carer numbers (Wakefield and Bradford for example) and Middlesbrough were in conversation with them. There was a shortfall in foster carers for those to care for a child with disabilities; teenagers ; children unaccompanied and sibling groups and the service was currently looking to recruit foster carers to the Future for families service. As part of the medium term financial plan, there would be an increase in child age allowance to support foster carers.
In terms of marketing, there were adverts in Jobs North East, Twitter, facebook lovemiddlesbrough magazine, discussing with a foster carer to speak on the radio and a social worker wrote an article regarding what it is like to be a foster carer for the lovemiddlesbrough magazine.
The Manager outlined that after discussions with their partners in practice in North Yorkshire, they would be focusing their recruitment in September and January. Middlesbrough have a 16.2 % requests but nationally recruitment for foster carers are low- it was the same trend across local authorities and private adoption agencies.
A Board member also outlined it would be useful to have something to give to prospective foster carers ( a news article or a poster). She advised that care leavers were looking at developing feedback forms and it may be useful to put feedback/ stories from foster carers into a booklet. This idea was applauded by the Board and further discussions would take place.
The Chair thanked the Manager and Board Members for their contributions.
AGREED- That the update be noted.