The contract will enable the Fostering Network, working with consultancy iMPOWER, to further develop its expertise, and to improve the sector’s knowledge and understanding of how to recruit and retain foster carers. The aim is to help boost local recruitment of foster carers to meet the diverse needs of children needing foster care and to help fostering services share good practice.
A core activity of Supporting Fostering Services to Recruit More Foster Carers will be gathering new information and insight into recruitment activity and the foster carer population.
The first step is a survey of foster carers which will provide new understanding of the workforce and what motivates and drives foster carers. The results will inform the production of innovative resources that will directly benefit fostering service recruitment of new foster carers.
Secondly, a benchmarking survey of fostering services, the first of its kind, will help paint a national and regional picture of foster carer recruitment activity and results, and will allow fostering services to compare their performance with national benchmarks, and identify areas for improvement.
Following analysis of the surveys, the Fostering Network and iMPOWER will provide one-to-one support up to 2015 for 25 local authorities across England.
Announcing the launch of this project and other measures to help improve foster carer recruitment, the minister said: “Growing up with over 80 foster brothers and sisters, I know from my own experience that foster care can provide an incredibly valuable opportunity for children to experience stable family life.
“Fundamental to this challenge is the successful recruitment and retention of carers – in particular, those capable of caring for sibling groups and children with complex needs. We know that three quarters of children in care are fostered, and that some local authorities need more help to get this right.
“This Foster Care Fortnight we are announcing £750,000 over the next two years to help local fostering services recruit a broader range of foster carers.”
Lucy Peake, director of external affairs at the Fostering Network, said: “The Fostering Network has been at the forefront of foster carer recruitment activity over the past decade, and is delighted to have been awarded the contract for this ground breaking new approach.
“Over the next two years this work will tell us more about what motivates and drives foster carers, so that we can support fostering services to get better at recruitment and retention.”
iMPOWER director Jeremy Cooper said: “We’re thrilled to be working with the Fostering Network and DfE to change fostering across England, starting by listening to foster carers.
“We believe councils need to transform their relationship with citizens to deliver sustainable public services given the huge challenges they are facing, especially in providing the best opportunities for our most vulnerable children and young people. We have seen that just listening more to foster carers can be the catalyst to start this transformation.”
Fostering services interested in getting involved in the project should contact email@example.com
Foster carers can complete the survey now at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/foster-carer-recruitment