Cutting the cost of foster placements
6 October 2014 by Rachel Earnshaw
A report from Impower suggests that a change in national approach to foster care could save local authorities up to half a billion pounds over the course of the next parliament.
The report, mainly based on detailed analysis of 15 councils, has found that on average, foster placements funded by the local council are approximately £17,000 per year cheaper than placements provided by fostering agencies. This was also reported to be the case by councils that were not analysed.
At present, the national average of foster cases using local council placements is 67%. The possible saving is based on an increase to 85% using local council placements, equating to a national saving of up to £150 million per year. This increase of 18% is equivalent to 9,000 children.
Jeremy Cooper, the director of Impower and author of the study, stated that it showed local government had to “change the way its fostering service works, and that starts with how it relates to and recruits foster carers”.
He also believes that although there are sometimes good reasons to use a fostering agency, the research shows that there is “no justification” for doing so in a such a significant number of cases.
The report has also suggested a change to the recruitment process that could possibly increase the number of foster carers. The change would involve current foster carers taking part in the recruitment process and speaking with potential candidates. One of the foster carers featured in the report believes that people would learn much more by speaking with current foster carers as opposed to learning from a social worker.
More information about Impower and this report can be found here