Child placement service - an overview
What does the Children’s Placement Service do?
The Children’s Placement Service, or fostering team as it’s also called, is a very busy team within children’s safeguarding services. The team is made up of a mixture of dedicated social workers, support practitioners, duty co-ordinators, training and development practitioners and business support officers. This is an area of work where no two days are ever the same, and a sense of humour and compassion is vital whatever your role! It’s not a 9-5 job, and the ability to multi-task and think on your feet are essential. However, it's an area of work where you can make a real change to children’s lives, and contribute positively to the development of a foster carer’s journey. One of the vital areas of our work is the recruitment of foster carers.
Did you know that every 20 minutes a child in the UK goes into care, but we're only finding two foster care homes for every three children who need one? The children’s placement service undertakes a constant quest to recruit fabulous Shropshire foster carers and supported board and lodgings providers.
“The problem we face is that while our current foster carers and supported lodgings providers are doing an amazing job, we just can't keep pace with demand,” says Steve Ladd, service manager. “In particular we need to recruit more carers for children over the age of eight, as many of them are currently having to be placed externally. For those children looking to maintain a relationship with their birth family, that’s far from ideal.”
Nationally the situation has become increasingly difficult in the last few years. Around 6,000 new foster carers are being recruited annually – a great achievement, but still far short of the 9,000 needed.
Without suitable foster homes to go to, thousands of children will continue to live in care, without the support and stability of a family life to give them a firm foundation going forward.
“It’s important for us to have a large enough roster of carers,” says Steve, “so we can match the right child with the right family – as well as not putting too much of a burden on our carers, some of whom will not be doing this full time.”
Carers can come from any background, and be couples or individuals. “Income, ethnicity and gender are unimportant. It’s a person’s ability to care and support young people that matter most.”
The type of care required can vary significantly – from looking after a child with a disability for a weekend, to giving a family a short respite break, through to taking a young person on until they become independent at 18. In particular, Shropshire is looking for those prepared to care for older children, sibling groups, children with disabilities and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. The county’s carers are fully trained, mentored and supported, as well as generously remunerated.
“Above all, everyone thinking of making a first enquiry should know there is absolutely no obligation to proceed if – at any time in the application process – they decide that it’s not right for them,” says Steve.
“They will also have plenty of opportunity to talk to other foster carers along the way to find out what to expect – the challenges as well as the rewards. Some of our foster carers have been with us for well over 20 years, and many have cared for more than 100 children during their career. One set of carers has just retired after 30 years of wonderful service and dedication to Shropshire children, with the total number of foster children going through their welcoming door reaching 172! Now that’s a record to break.
“So if you’ve ever wondered if fostering might be right for you, get in touch. You’ll never know unless you call.”