Fostering in Haringey

My LibDem colleague on Haringey Council, Cllr Rachel Allison has done some excellent investigative work into the lives of children in care in Haringey. Lives of these children in care could be improved and £7million saved by action on Haringey’s Fostering Service. The Liberal Democrats revealed this situation at the last Full Council meeting on the 22 November.

Rachel, who is Liberal Democrat Children’s Spokesperson, examined the cost of fostering in Haringey and the outcomes for local children.

She highlighted that the cost of fostering Haringey’s 600 plus Looked After Children was high due to the high proportion (70%) of out-of-borough fostering agency placements compared to Haringey Council placements (30%) – this is contrary to a best practice target of 80% in borough and 20% out-of-borough. Each out-of-borough placements costs, on average, £25,000 more than the costs with a Haringey Council foster carer.

Cllr Allison also emphasised the widespread evidence of better outcomes for children of Haringey-based foster placements. The outcomes for children can be so much better if they are placed close to their wider family, their school and friends.’ The Council needs to focus on what is best for our children and we owe it to them to ensure that do all we can to increase the numbers of Haringey foster carers’ said Rachel.

There is clearly a need for a comprehensive recruitment drive to sign up 220 more Haringey based foster carers which would be able to care for 340 children (based on current figures showing that there are 1.5 children currently per carer). To enable more recruitment of Haringey Council foster carers Cllr Allison directed attention to areas of long poor performance by Haringey Council. A mystery shopper exercise uncovered that the Council failed to answer phone calls and a comparison of fostering services websites showed Haringey Council’s was woefully inadequate. These failings, Liberal Democrats suggest, are likely to put off potential foster carers.

The saving would be £25,000 per placement – 340 x £25,000 = £8.5million (minus recruitment and extra social worker costs of £1.5million = £7 million).

Evidence from Demos/Barnardo’s used by Cllr Allison to show that the outcomes for children are better with local foster placements http://www.barnardos.org.uk/in_loco_parentis_-_web.pdf

0 thoughts on “Fostering in Haringey

  1. I’m a foster carer for Haringey. I live in Haringey. We specifically chose to foster with Haringey because I feel very strongly that local children need local placements. The children that have been placed with us have been an absolute delight but sometimes it does feel like we are banging our heads against a brick wall with some of the bureaucracy involved. On the positive, the kids have all been able to stay at their own schools which is great for stability.
    Things I think would help with recruitment:-

    don’t assume that there is a typical foster carer.

    Accepting that if we are being asked to treat this as a professional job (which we are) we should have commensurate support – I don’t just mean money – in fact, money is almost peripheral but I mean people to ask and talk to, friendliness and being treated like co-workers rather than clients.

    Just because a child is removed from their parents does not mean necessarily they are ‘difficult’ or ‘disruptive’. I could say that most of the kids we have fostered are just plain sad.

    A proper ‘welcome pack’ on approval with all basic information.

    Some kind of discussion about appropriate placements. I understand that these need to happen quickly and often the social workers don’t know much about what is happening but we have been had some really crucial information left out.

    What the website is like is not really my main concern but rather what information and support we are given – especially as foster carers are being swept up by independent agencies that do offer more money and more support.

    There is a lot of good that is being done by Haringey foster carers for looked after children in the borough and we want to constantly strive to do our best but sometimes it can feel like a very thankless task.

    A big problem (and there is no real solution to this that I can think of) is that to foster, you need to have a spare available room and that is quite a tall order in some parts of Haringey.
    But there are some very wealthy parts of the borough – it is very obvious at the support meetings that almost all, if not all of the foster carers come from the poorer parts of the borough. I wonder if there is a way to focus on the Highgates and the Muswell Hills to look for people who have room and a desire to help the wider community.

    I know this an obviously political blog but I don’t think it’s necessarily a political issue. Foster carers need to be recruited everywhere. Not answering the telephone after three rings or having an extensive website isn’t going to persuade someone to be a foster carer if they hadn’t previously considered it but there is a lot of systemic changes, regardless of political persuasion that need to be done.