Collaboration between local authorities and the private sector would improve foster care for children, a new Government report has suggested.
The Department for Education’s review into foster care in England called on local authorities to work in partnership with independent fostering agencies (IFAs) instead of competing with them when recruiting foster carers.
Councils should look at Peterborough City Council’s arrangement with an IFA to deliver its entire fostering service, the report by Sir Martin Narey and Mark Owers said.
The report read: ‘There is considerable scope for local authorities to follow the example of Peterborough and engage an independent fostering agency to work in partnership and deliver the entirety of their fostering service.
‘Councils should not be discouraged from making such partnerships with IFAs from the private sector whose quality of care and an ability to find homes for the most challenging children is not in dispute.’
Sir Martin and Mr Owers also suggested that if councils chose not to work with IFAs they could come together to form 10 consortia and negotiate with them to provide placements at lower costs by, in return, guaranteeing the agencies a certain level of business.
The report added: ‘The routine absence of such arrangements is extraordinary.’
It also urged councils to improve their commissioning of foster carers, which the report noted was not as good as many councils believe.
Councils were told they need to be better at calculating how many children need foster care, how many foster carers they have and working out children’s needs.
They were urged to leave behind their ‘old fashioned’ and ‘traditional’ marketing techniques – like print advertisements on billboards and buses – and embrace more modern and creative techniques that use a personal tone to reach out to potential carers.