Officers presented the report to committee and highlighted key points including the work undertaken by foster carers in the extremely challenging pandemic. A summary of the issues included:
· Challenges facing foster carers in the context of the prevailing cost of living crisis
· Ageing foster carer population
· Therapeutic approach to fostering, backed up with adequate training
· Working closely with placements to identify complex needs and provide support/training
· Emphasis on foster carer being part of a professional network
· View that long-term placements are equivalent to adoption
· Measures in place to deal with issues that may arise. For example, reasons behind a child /or young person persistently going missing
· Social worker and foster carer working in partnership to resolve issues
· Training and development offer outlined with some courses being offered in person.
Councillor Jasmine Ali expressed her thanks on behalf of the committee to foster carers for all their hard work and dedication.
Questions arising from presentation
· Therapeutic support and understanding of childhood adverse experiences and support for teenagers. Link between foster care training and support for these experiences in order to provide love, support and building resilience to empower foster carers to achieve balance. It was explained that twenty-four hour support was also available for foster carers
· Query relating to not completing training, support and development (TSD) in timescale and what this means. The outstanding not completed in timescale were reviewed and subject of a workshop monthly and review by officers
· Special guardianships and whether possible to consider extending the training programme offer. It was stated that this group of people are an essential part of the community and important that they are supported, especially in the challenges of the cost of living crisis currently; concern for young people and the support provided to their families. It was explained that a legislative framework guides foster care and adoption training and support. It was agreed to receive a report on special guardianship to a future corporate parenting committee
· Query relating to the increase in numbers for the 16 years plus age group and if any particular factors contributing, like the cost of living crisis.
The committee received input from the manager of foster care recruitment and the manager of the council’s press team about initiatives and efforts in respect of foster care recruitment.
Advertising currently planned with the use of animation and the voices of young people with a launch planned to take to the community. Regular roll out of adverts and newsletters continue.
As soon as queries are received, contact is made immediately but challenges will prevail and the council work with the foster carers to support.
Efforts outlined to try and reach all parts of the community and including leaflet drops and articles in Southwark Life. All ideas and suggestions welcomed.
Issue of housing raised and the need for a spare room and impact on recruitment. Explained that housing allocation policy has limited resources. Councillor Merrill, cabinet member for council homes and homelessness explained that the housing allocation policy was currently being reviewed.
1. That the 2021-22 annual report of Southwark fostering service be noted.
2. That a report on special guardianship be received to a future meeting of the committee.