Bournemouth Council announced a new campaign for this year to find more people willing to adopt and foster children.
Bournemouth awarded the Adoption Service of the year in 2012 for efficiency in children’s care, but still many children need a family and adoption and foster care processes are long and complicated.
Councillor Nicola Green, deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet member for Education and Children’s Service said: “There are currently 46 children who need a home in Bournemouth,we are aware that we could do more to speed up the adoption process if more people were involved”.
There are currently 46 children who need a home in Bournemouth
She explained: “The issue is not related to funding, we have a very respectable turnaround fund for adoption and we’re absolutely prepared to put the money behind that. We awarded the Adoption service of the year since we provided extremely high performing service, but what we want to do is to ensure that service is able to adjust the needs of more children and more quickly”
Gill Bishop, Service Manager for Bournemouth’s Children’s Social Care explained more about what it would need to help children to find a safe house.
Tell us more about this initiative, what is the target?
We’re looking to increase the number of staff we have working with vulnerable children and increase the number of foster carers we have in Bournemouth. We’re also looking to increase the number of people who would like to adopt a child. In Bournemouth we have about 246 looked after children, of them about 46 are not able to live permanently with their mum and dad or indeed with their birth family and we need to find permanent alternatives for them and generally, especially with very small children, adoption .
How will the Council achieve this goal?
We’re trying to increase the amount of work we do, we know we need more people to adopt our children and we know we got many children who may find a good home somewhere else in the country, and we need to get quicker at finding those parents for those children.
This consideration has been driven by a survey that the Council did about 18 months ago amongst Bournemouth residents who said very clearly that Council’s priorities had to include working with vulnerable children and adults, so we had some local feedback.
Nationally, there is a lot of interest in adoption and fostering to adopt and there’s also interest in trying to offer early help to families. So we’re changing the way we work quite dramatically and within that we’re also looking to invite and recruit more social workers to come and help us to do the work.
So we’re changing the way we work quite dramatically and within that we’re also looking to invite and recruit more social workers to come and help us to do the work.
Bournemouth awarded the Adoption service of the year. Are you proud of this?
Yes, absolutely! And we want to build on that. At the moment we have 46 children going to process of adoption, that’s a lot of children for a very small authority. Nationally the department of education has just published something called an adoption map, that charts all the local authorities across England and it shows how many children are in need of adoption placements and our tiny little authority has a large number compared to many others.
So we’re hoping that with publication of that people will become very much more aware of adoption issues and we hope that people will watch and read local median and listen lo local radio. And here we’re looking to recruit people who want to adopt children very actively from all over the place, not only locally, but also in the area surrounding Bournemouth.
Bournemouth is a very small authority so we tend not to place children from Bournemouth with adopters from Bournemouth, but we have a very good working relationship with other adoption agencies so if people in Bournemouth want to adopt, we’re happy to access them to those agencies.
It’s quite complicated way of working, but it’s really important that we can give children good, stable, loving families as quickly as possible.
Do you people need more information?
To attract more foster cares and adopters we certainly need to get better in addressing enough information to the right people. In March, for foster cares we’re gonna be mounting a big awareness raising campaign to help people living locally to understand what fostering is.
To do that, we need more social workers.Recruiting excellent staff who are commited to making a different for children, if we don’t recruit more staff we won’t be able to go on and get more fosters carers and families for children who need adoption. So we have got some jobs on our site this week and more will come next week.
What about adoption and fostering care process? Are they particularly long at the moment?
There’s a bill about to get it’s reading in Parliament called Children and Families Bill and as local authorities we’ll be required to be much more timely in the way we deal with care proceedings and placements orders. We should be able to get trough the court process in no more that 26 weeks , whereas the family justice review leading to this bill showed that in some parts of the country it took about 61 one weeks.
We do that already very much more quickly, than the current 40 weeks target, but we want to do that more quickly and above all safely and find the right family for our children.
How do you find the “right” family? Especially with people who are new to fostering, how do you work with them?
A worker will come and meet new foster carers , who can be people from a range of different backgrounds, and we undertake quite a detailed assessment , looking at why they decided the wanted to become foster carers, we look at the further experience they have had with children and what they learnt from those experiences, if they have children of their own we talk to them about the impact that fostering may have on their own child, we make sure about the environment to be suitable to host a child, we take references and check with police and authorities. It may take 8 or 9 visits.
If they decide to proceed we ensure they meet other foster carers so that they can ask info, to undertake a training carer programme which last 8 weeks where they work with psychologists about the needs of the children because sharing your home with somebody’s else children is quite a commitment.
What happens once that the right family has been found ?
If you became a foster carer you will get regular support visits from your own supervising social worker who may visit you monthly to make sure you’re doing ok and to help you to develop as a carer and after a year your situation will be considered by a fostering panel to make sure that you are enjoying the job, you’re giving the best and that you’re able.
Are you enjoying the job, are you giving the best to it, that you are able with support to meet the needs of the children, and to make sure that the Council is giving you the right support as a foster carer. So there’s a regular review not only of the child’s situation but also to support and help foster carers to develop.
What kind of support these families receive from the Council?
In Bournemouth we offer a fee that will range depending on the level you’re working at between about £65 up about to £180 a week, which is not very much, because people don’t get into fostering in order to make a living from it, but in addition to that, we pay an allowance which covers the full cost of caring for that child, in order to enable people to take care of that child well.
Moreover, there’s a national organisation called The Fostering Network which every year send recommendation to local authorities about how much they should be paying foster carers for allowances and following that guide we’re very realistic about of the cost of bringing up children.
Therefore, is to be hoped that with more information, people’s awareness about this delicate and important issue will rise and that more people will be willing to adopt a child. However it must be remembered that, as Councillor Green said: ” Adoption is not for everybody certainly. But there are a lot of people out there who would love to provide a very lovely and stable home for very vulnerable young children”.
Anyone interested in becoming a foster carer for Bournemouth should contact the Fostering and Placements Team on 01202 456789 or go to www.jobsatbournemouth.com
Main Picture: Eugene Phoen