'We have already achieved better outcomes for some of our young people, and we think this could save us around £4.2m a year.' Martin Gray, Director of Children's Services at Stockton Council.
Today we’ve launched our latest report, Fostering Futures. It offers up a new way of thinking about fostering services and how we improve the life outcomes for vulnerable children. It is my intention that this report acts a stepping stone for the rest of the sector and allows more local authorities than those just involved in the IMPOWER led Family Values programme to benefit from the thinking.
The report explains that each council provided foster placement is on average £17,000 per year cheaper than the average agency placement. By increasing the number of in-house foster placements from the current national average of 67% to 85%, local authorities nationally would save £150million a year and upwards of half a billion pounds over the course of the next parliament. This 18% increase in in-house foster placements is equivalent to 9,000 children.
To achieve this dramatic increase in council foster carers the report recommends a radical change in the way councils recruit and treat prospective and approved foster parents. In recruitment this means moving from expensive mass media campaigns to a more targeted peer to peer approach.
The report highlights:
- how targeted peer to peer recruitment has proven in one council to have doubled the number of in-house foster carers in just 2 years
- how new research, conducted both nationally with the Department for Education and across local authority areas, has conclusively proven the atypical values of foster carers, opening up a brand new way of targeting potential recruits and of retaining existing carers
- how this new approach to recruitment has a higher conversion rate (14%) than traditional mass media campaigns (often below 9%) (This represents a 55% increase in conversions)