Agenda item

Rotherham Fostering Service 2021-22 Annual Report

Toni Traynor, Kelly Oxer and Sarah Kennedy to present

(5.05-5.25 p.m.)


The Marketing Manager and Service Manager for LAC (Residential, Fostering and Adoption) introduced the report on the business and activity within Rotherham Councils Fostering Service in 2021/22. It provided performance and activity data on the service, the activity and functioning of the fostering panel and detail service developments.


The report outlined the regulatory framework in which the fostering service operated. Details were given of the teams; these focus on recruitment and assessment of prospective foster carers and supervision of mainstream foster carers under those providing more specialist care, private fostering and connected caring and the Mockingbird Project. In line with regulations, the fostering panel was Chad by an independent social work professional.


The report outlined the following:

·       The functions of the Panel;

·       Process and administration;

·       Composition;

·       A report from the Panel’s Chair, which confirmed that the panel had continued to operate efficiently and effectively.


In respect of Fostering Panel business, it was outlined that the continued use of a dedicated Panel Advisor gave greater scrutiny and challenge to the service which ensured continued improvement in the quality of reports presented to Panel. Obtaining placement reports from children’s social workers for fostering reviews continues to be a problem at times. The report has been moved onto the LCS and escalated for action.


Details were given of the range of fostering placements offered. These include:


·       Day care: for foster carers who need to attend meetings or training

·       Second home care: placements that offer support to primary foster carers

·       Family and friend foster care: (connected carers) enabling children and young people who are unable to live with their parents to be cared for by extended family members friends or other people connected with them

·       Step down from residential care: a RMBC initiative to accommodate Rotherham’s most vulnerable children

·       Aiming high for disabled children families together scheme: providing short break care for children with disabilities

·       Mockingbird family based-model of fostering: an innovative method of delivering foster care using an extended family model which provides respite care, peer support, joint planning and training and social activities.


Of all enquiries received in 2021 – 2022 from prospective foster carers, 35.79% progressed to a follow up visit. The figure the year before was almost identical and for the two years back to 2018 the conversion rate was around 28%. It was noted that in 202122 there was a significant drop in approval of fostering households. It is acknowledged that the impact of COVID-19 had a detrimental effect on recruitment of carers.


Details were provided on the number of deregistrations, with an analysis of the themes identified as reasons for leaving fostering. It was noted that 29% of carers who resigned had fostered for less than two years. This was in line with national data. It had been concluded that the majority of the registrations for 2021/22 were unavoidable and as a result of natural changing circumstances. Where other issues resulted in the resignation or deregistration, it was thought that the service had generally done what they could to support the carers.


It was noted that alongside initiatives to recruit foster carers, that a strategy would need to be developed to retain then in the longer term. This was a key area for development in the forthcoming year. The innovative work with bright sparks was outlined and had led to increased interest in fostering across the board.


Whilst COVID-19 had continued to make an impact, the service had responded flexibly and creatively to meet the needs of carers. Assurance was given that the service was well sighted on required areas of improvements and remained committed to recruiting and supporting carers.


The Chair invited questions from the panel and a discussion on the following points ensued:


·       The importance of developing placement sufficiency;

·       Developing a balance between the independent fostering market and in house offer;

·       Ensuring that the right placement was offered to meet the child’s need;

·       The positive response from foster carers about the Rotherham ‘offer’;

·       The importance of honest feedback to enhance performance;

·       Understanding the number of deregistrations within two years

·       Educational representation on the panel adding value to processes;

·       Embedding exit interview for foster carers;

·       Improving children’s input into reviews;

·       Recruitment and retention of staff and how a diverse workforce can be achieved;

·       Engagement with parents/carers.


The Chair thanked officers for the report.


Resolved: That the report be received.

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