Alison Hinds, Head of Looked After Children,
presented the Fostering Agency Annual Report with a view to
receiving feedback from Board members.
In addition to the information contained
within the report and in response to questions from Board Members
and attending foster carers, officers stated the following:
Recent recruitment and marketing campaigns had been successful,
with increased referrals seen during Fostering Week.
The review of fees and allowances recognised that
there was a need for foster carers that are family members to
receive the same levels of support and financial help as other
Meeting the needs of older children was an area that
needed to be focussed upon in terms of recruitment. Family placements were deemed to be the most
Care leave mentors would be a future area of
Processes were in place to ensure that the Independent Reviewing
Officers were able to escalate to the Council issues raised by
Work commitments such as particular shift patterns would not
necessarily rule a person out as a potential foster
carer. The Authority would check to see
if extended support networks and provision for the unexpected, i.e.
an unwell child, were in place.
Significant life events such as bereavements or new relationships
would be actively investigated.
All carers should receive unannounced supervision visits. It was
acknowledged that better planning was required to ensure that
happens. Should improvements to the
current rate not be achieved, the Independent Reviewing Officer
could seek a 360 degree review.
It was recognised that children needed time to form bonds with
their Social Workers and efforts were being made to reduce the
number of agency staff. However, it was
also essential that staffing levels were maintained. Recruiting and retaining staff was an
industry-wide issue and new incentives, including a rolling
recruitment programme, were being implemented. In addition, discussions had been had with best
practice authorities and performance monitoring was in
place. The Authority currently employed
15 agency Social Workers.
Measures taken to retain permanent Social Workers included thorough
workforce plans and excellent development pathways, competitive pay
and other employee benefits.
There was a need to ensure that carers kept young people beyond the
age of 18. Fees had been set at a level
where carers wouldn’t be worse off financially.
The Head of Looked After Children apologised
for the graph included under 13.11 report being incorrect.
That the Wolverhampton Fostering Annual Report for 2015/2016 be