Agenda item

Annual Fostering Report 2021-22

The Annual Report for the Fostering Service sets out how the in-house fostering services met the needs of Medway’s children in care in the year from April 2021 to end of March 2022 and establishes the work which should be undertaken in the coming year.





The Head of Service, Provider Services introduced the report whichset out how the in-house fostering services met the needs of Medway’s children in care in the year from April 2021 to the end of March 2022 and established the work which should be undertaken in the coming year.


Members then raised a number of comments and questions, which included:


The quality of work of the fostering panel was commended.


  • Advertising – it was asked what the costs involved and the effectiveness of radio advertising was. The officer advised that the costs were not at hand and would be provided at another date. The budget for advertising was split between various methods of campaigns. People that come forward were asked how they heard about the service, and it was found that the most effective way of advertisement was through social media. Radio advertising provided a lot of exposure into the community that the service wanted and needed to recruit from. Comprehensive information on the most effective method of recruitment of foster carers would be included in future reports.


  • Respite Care - in response to a comment that payment for respite care remained insufficient, in particular against the rising cost of living and a question as to whether it would be considered in the next stage of the review, the officer said that a lot of work had been done within the service on this matter. The policy had been strengthened and additional means of supporting and rewarding carers financially if a child is taken out for an activity had been introduced.


  • LGBT Carers - it was suggested that a stall at the upcoming Medway Pride event could assist in attracting foster carers in the LGBTQ community. The officer welcomed this suggestion and said that the LGBTQ community was very active in the adoption space, and it would be welcomed if that level of activity could be replicated in foster caring.


  • Special Guardians – in response to a comment that more recognition was needed for the work of special guardians, the officer acknowledged the improvements needed in this area. A consultant had been brought in to conduct a deep dive review and as a result an improvement plan had been put in place. An open day was due to taken place for special guardians to enable them to share their experiences and enable the Council to gather information on their needs.


  • Legal Challenges and Disputes – it was asked what support was in place for foster carers if and when faced with legal challenges. The officer said that it was up to the courts to decide who the parties to proceedings were. It was down to the Judge’s discretion to allow participation of any party in proceedings. If the Judge allowed the foster carers to be part of proceedings, they would then be entitled to legal aid for representation. The local authority had a duty to put forward a case that advocates in the best interest of children and cannot act

separately on behalf of foster carers as this would be a conflict of interest. 


  • School Transport – it was asked what was in place when a child was placed outside of Medway. The officer said if a child lived within a reasonable distance to a school all would be done to facilitate their travel. If the child lived too far from their school, then an application would be made for them to attend a school close to their placement.


  • Savings for Looked after Children – a Member asked for an update on the work that was being done for LAC direct savings and changes that were being made. The Finance Business Partner said that as of September 2021, payments that were being made to foster carers for them to then pay into LAC savings accounts had been removed and Medway would now make payments directly into the accounts of LAC. Payments would be made this month and backdated as appropriate.


  • Reward Scheme – a reward scheme was introduced for foster carers in 2020 and it was asked if this had continued. The officer said whilst they could not compete financially with big foster care agencies, the advantage for Medway carers was the local connection as well as a comprehensive offer of training and support. There were local officers and social workers, good connection of local resources and discounts for local attractions


  • Foster to Adopt – it was asked if the increase on foster to adopt cases impacted on levels of foster carers. The officer said that those carers came via adoption agencies and came specifically to adopt a child. When they were assessed, they were assessed on that basis and usually fostered very young children or babies hoping that these children could remain with them if the courts decided that it was unsafe for them to return to their parents’ care. They do not impact on fostering numbers as they came through the adoption route into fostering.



Foster carers were thanked for all their hard work and commitment to Medway children.




The Committee noted the report



Supporting documents: