The quality of support young people receive during the transition to adulthood shapes their future life chances. Governments have recognised the key role that foster carers should play in this process. Yet, too many young people still leave care unable to cook, manage their own finances or without being emotionally ready to look after themselves.
Procedures should be streamlined to allow providers to place children's needs first rather than red tape which needlessly diverts staff time from child care. We are asking for a national procurement framework and for the Government to challenge proposed EU rules, which will leave placements for vulnerable children open to tendering risks.
The Children Act states that each child should have the 'most appropriate placement available', yet local authorities restrict searches for foster care to in-house first. They only begin to search for an external placement if none can be found in-house. NAFP believes this widely used policy to limit placement choice means some children will not find the 'most appropriate placement'.
Fostering through Social Enterprise (FtSE) and the Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers (NAFP) are urging the Government to support all children in care to secure a permanent home without delay. Separating out different routes to permanence is unhelpful to children and those who care for them. It is the outcome for the child, not the legal order they are placed under, that is crucial.
Wherever we find poor placement and commissioning practice - locally, regionally, across England, Scotland and Wales - that undermines the stability and permanency of children placed with IFP carers, we will challenge it. This includes inappropriate use of often rolling 28 day placements, forced moves and unwelcome pressure to transfer agency.
NAFP are working with Fostering Through Social Enterprise and Liberty to challenge any threat to move a child, where the placement is meeting the child’s needs, based on costs alone as a breach of the Human Rights Act. This may come about as a result of procurement procedures that are not fit for securing children's futures.