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,
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
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
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.
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
separately on behalf of foster carers as this would be a
conflict of interest.
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.
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
- 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
Foster carers were thanked for
all their hard work and commitment to Medway children.
The Committee noted the