Following Foster Care Fortnight (8-21 May), on 23 May London Ventures hosted a roundtable to explore the challenges and opportunities around the strategic issue of fostering recruitment and retention.
According to The Fostering Network, London is in need of 1150 additional foster families, so we brought together 12 local authorities, a sub-regional group representing seven local authorities, and one charity to facilitate an open discussion about innovative practice in this space and how local authorities in London can collaborate to drive forward a new approach.
We also heard from our London Ventures partner, The Cornerstone Partnership, and Tri-Borough’s Fostering and Adoption Service - who deliver across Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, and Hammersmith & Fulham - about how taking a slightly different approach (and adapting it along the way!) has led to increased numbers of fostering families and an improved plan to retain foster carers.
Why does London need a new approach?
- There is a quickly changing profile of needs, including increased numbers of older children and unaccompanied asylum seekers needing foster families
- There is often a lack of connected support for foster carers e.g. there are rarely links to housing services, which is key issue in London
- There is inconsistency in portability of foster carer assessments, making it difficult for foster care families to continue supporting children if they move elsewhere
What could a new approach look like?
- Focus on creating capacity amongst existing foster carers to meet demand, not just increasing the number of foster carers
- Upskilling current foster carers so they are able to support children through changing profile of needs
- Offer a full support package that is connected to other services, including housing, residential services, employers, voluntary sector, independent sector
How can London boroughs work together?
- Develop a model that brings together the best of in-house and Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) provision e.g. public sector values with a growth mind set around who can foster
- Understand the role of the GLA and the Mayor to support a collaborative, targeted approach to foster carer recruitment and development
- Build a virtual and physical connected community around foster carers, including with London businesses
Our attendees were reassured that they are not the only ones facing challenges around foster carer recruitment and retention (we know because we asked!) and a number of boroughs will be taking forward conversations with The Cornerstone Partnership to identify how their approach can support them.
We look forward to hosting our next roundtable to provide a forum for local authorities to come together around the biggest issues being faced in the sector