Recruitment of foster carers varies hugely across councils, with some authorities ‘struggling’ to recruit the workforce they need, a report indicates.
While the average time taken to progress someone to becoming a foster carer was 281 days, certain councils took almost 11 times as long as others to complete the procedure last year – according to the Fostering Network.
Research suggests some councils fail to use 68% of their foster care places, whereas others have a vacancy rate of just 5%.
On average, town halls approved 11% of people who enquired about becoming a foster carer over 2012/13.
The Fostering Network has confirmed it will be working with 25 councils over the next two years to help highlight improve local services.
Town halls and independent fostering providers should be working collaboratively to ensure recruitment of new carers meets local need, the charity said.
Recruitment and retention consultant at the Fostering Network, James Foyle, said: ‘We know that local authorities work extremely hard to meet the ongoing challenges of foster carer recruitment.
‘The findings show a huge performance range in some areas, in particular around the journey from enquiry to approval and the high level of vacancies.
‘We strongly recommend that fostering services compare these national averages with their own performance to identify local opportunities for improvement throughout the recruitment and retention process.’