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First national picture of foster carer recruitment published

Fostering Network survey shows huge range in performance across the country

A new report by the Fostering Network has, for the first time, provided a picture of foster carer recruitment across English local authorities. It reveals a huge variation in performance between local authorities which highlights scope for improvement.

Local Authority Fostering Service Benchmark, 2012/13 is based on research carried out as part of a Department for Education funded project and with the Fostering Network's consultancy partner iMPOWER. The research found that:

The 68 local authorities which took part in the research will all receive an individual report on their performance compared to the national benchmark on over 30 metrics. Performance by these authorities varied hugely on all of the metrics studied.

The Fostering Network says that while some of this can be explained by different data collection methods and no sector consensus on what constitutes a formal enquiry, the spread does indicate that there is clear room for improvement for many local authorities that are struggling to recruit and retain the foster carer workforce they need to find the right homes for children. 

James Foyle, recruitment and retention consultant at the Fostering Network, said:

"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. Local findings may point to opportunities to improve the efficiency of the process and make financial savings, while still recruiting foster carers who can meet children's needs."

As a result of the research, the Fostering Network is working with 14 local authorities until March 2014 and a further 11 in 2014-15 to help them highlight areas of potential improvement and to develop and implement action plans to achieve this.

The action plans will use the results of a survey into foster carers values and motivations, based on a system of psychometric profiling known as Values Modes, to identify new ways of identifying and targeting new foster carers, and supporting those already fostering. The Values Modes report will be published later in December.

The survey will be available on this page.