Support for Staffordshire’s looked after children

I thought that I would recount a meeting with our Fostering Team and a group of foster carers this week. I’ve taken a close interest in this area, as it’s clear that quality fostering has a disproportionately positive effect on looked-after children. The Through-Care Team that I visited in Burton recently were unequivocal in their support for longer term placements with high quality carers. We are the only local authority in the West Midlands who are graded Good by Ofsted for Children’s Services, and we have a good reputation with foster carers, but we cannot afford to be complacent. I wanted to know what more we could do.

The answer is that there is no easy single solution. We run targeted advertising campaigns, which work, and there may be something that we can do to smooth the process that brings potential carers into the service. We can also probably do something more to assist our current carers in communicating with each other, as it was clear that this is a vocation, and one which shares its best practice at a very practicals level.

The bottom line is that I left the two hour session once again inspired by the Child Protection Social Workers and the Foster Carers that work for us in Staffordshire. With the public’s focus again on child protection, we must strike the right balance between responsibility, accountability and authority; this profession will only work effectively for the vulnerable children for whom we assume the role of corporate parent, if we continue to attract and retain good quality people.

On a more jolly note, I would remind those of you working for the Council of the My Discounts scheme. If you haven’t already got a card, you should look into it. I’ve got my B&Q and Wickes card, which give 9% and 11% discounts respectively. With the amount of work that we’re undertaking on our old house, they are very welcome.

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