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