LEICESTERSHIRE FOSTERING SERVICE Strategy and Marketing Policy for Recruiting Foster Carers

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1 LEICESTERSHIRE FOSTERING SERVICE Strategy and Marketing Policy for Recruiting Foster Carers The aim of the recruitment strategy for the Fostering & Adoption Services is to recruit a pool of Foster Carers; Family & Friend Carers & Adopters living in and within reasonable travelling distance of Leicestershire who have the skills and qualities to meet the diverse needs of Children and Young People in our care. This strategy is based on an analysis of practice information including current and emerging areas of need in terms of our Children & Young People. The strategy builds on the information and report provided by the placement commissioning strategy in June The communication plans for adoption and fostering have been merged to share resources and make wider use of recruitment opportunities. The Communications team lead on the marketing and communication activities and the recruitment drive is overseen by the service manager for Placements. This strategy will be reviewed each year. A communications plan is updated quarterly to plan activity for the year. The current plan is included in Appendix One. Recruiting foster carers and people to adopt children is an ongoing, year round campaign, with focus at particular time periods (e.g. awareness weeks/ fortnights) that provide an extra hook for our media and social media aspects of the campaign. Currently we cast our recruitment net extremely wide to maximise the number of potential carers coming forward and our Could you make space for a child? campaign, which uses a series of simple graphics designed to make people ask themselves if they believe they have what it takes to adopt or foster. The graphics avoid pictures of children/ or adults to improve its inclusivity. The campaign has been flexible, with a shifting focus where necessary. For example in 2011, there were a number of babies that needed immediate foster families, so the campaign was adapted to feature a Could you make space for a baby? graphic. The focus for 2012/13 will remain inclusive, and engaging to all but will maintain a focus on a number of key targeted audiences. For the latter part of 2012, and early 2013 there will also be a focus on family finding for children who wait, often children in sibling groups, those with health difficulties and children from black and minority ethnicity. Our current priorities are: Leicestershire County Council

2 develop short break provision for Children & Young People with disabilities; develop options for Young People to be placed with Remand Carers instead of being received into the care of a residential placement. Permanent placements for sibling groups Increase our baby placements Increase carers from black and minority ethnic communities to meet the needs of children waiting for a family Recruit adopters Leicestershire County Council

3 Background Leicestershire s Population Total 0-15 year old Population Mid-Year Estimates1 The proportion of Leicestershire children and young people under 16 remains approximately in line with the national proportion at just under 19%. However, one district (Charnwood) has a smaller proportion (17%). The overall number of children and young people has remained much the same since the 2001 census. However, this masks changes in different age groups and areas of the County. For example, there has been a significant fall in numbers of 5-10s in most, but not all, areas but the number of year olds has increased. Children and young people in Leicestershire (estimate) Total 0-17 NW Blaby Charn. Harb. H & B Melton O & W Leics. Leics No. 5,340 8,635 4,726 5,621 2,625 5,410 2,729 35,086 Change since (3%) 497 (6%) 124 (3%) 80 (1%) -141 (-5%) 357 (7%) -166 (-6%) Trend Change since (3%) No. 6,279 9,900 6,160 6,936 3,282 6,431 3,647 42, (-13%) -1,415- (14%) 154 (3%) -210 (-3%) -429 (-13%) -43 (-1%) -660 (-18%) -3,396 (-8%) Trend Change since 2001 No. 5,771 9,271 5,312 5,973 3,103 5,367 3,777 38, (-1%) -474 (-5%) 434 (8%) -416 (-7%) 83 (3%) -23 (0%) -93 (-2%) -544 (-1%) Trend Change since 2001 No. 2,424 4,476 2,251 2,668 1,255 2,392 1,749 17, (11%) 679 (15%) 434 (20%) 164 (6%) 119 (9%) 427 (18%) 330 (19%) 2,427 (14%) Trend Change since 2001 No. 19,184 32,282 18,449 21,198 10,265 19,600 11, , (-2%) -713 (-2%) 1,165 (6%) -382 (-2%) -368 (-4%) 718 (4%) -589 (-5%) Trend -615 (0%) 1 Office of National Statistics updated March 2009, 2 Source: Population Estimates Unit, ONS: Crown Copyright Leicestershire County Council

4 This is significant for predicting likely changes to children in care as 0 4 usually represents the age group which produces the highest number of children requiring a Child Protection Plan, children coming into care and children becoming the subject of care proceedings. The numbers aged11 15 are relatively stable so there should be no significant adverse change within the planning cycle and the number is likely to fall over the period. Children and young people 2001 / 2009 Black and Minority populations in Leicestershire The population of Leicestershire (across all ages) was estimated in to be 90% white British, an estimated reduction of 4% since the 2001 Census. For children and young people the estimate is 85% white British. The 2008 Needs Analysis for Children from Black & Minority Ethnic Needs showed a greater proportion of pupils in Leicestershire (12.4%) to be from an ethnic minority. The highest BME proportions are in Loughborough and Oadby Most of the Asian British Indian population is in Oadby, Thurmaston and Fosse Ward The Pakistani population is largely in either Oadby or the Ambien ward in Hinckley and Bosworth The Bangladeshi population is concentrated in North East Loughborough. Other ethnic groups are more widely spread across the County. Since summer 2006 there has been an increase in European nationals arriving in Leicestershire from EU accession countries 4, with a significant 3 LSR Online, extracted from Office for National Statistics experimental Population Estimates by Ethnic Group for local authority districts 4 Source: Worker registration scheme approvals Leicestershire County Council

5 proportion being Polish. However, arrivals have reduced over the last two years and there is some suggestion that many have returned. Overall, the picture is one of increasing ethnic diversity in Leicestershire. Children in Care At the end of March 2012 there were 373 children in care in Leicestershire; the total figure having risen from a relatively low base in 2007/08 of 310. (25% increase). The majority of children in care continue to be in foster placements; 338 children and young people representing 78% of the total care population. Of those, 33% are age 0 to 4, 33% age 5 to 11, 20% age 12 to 15 and 14% age 16+. The highest proportion of children in care are allocated to workers in NW Leicestershire, Hinckley and Bosworth (40%), with 33% allocated to Charnwood and Melton Mowbray, 22% allocated to Oadby/Wigston, Market Harborough and Blaby and 5% allocated to the Disabled Children s Service. Children who require a Child Protection plan 5 The total number of children with a Child Protection Plan (CPP) at end of Sept 2012 is 516. The total has risen from a low base of 142 in 2006/07. The steep rise since 2008/09 represents 102% increase This is important for predicting the number of children entering the care system as a rise in children with CPP usually leads to a rise in CiC with a slight time delay. Clearly since 2009/10, the rate of increase of CiC has not kept pace with children with a CPP but until the number of CPP peaks the number of CiC will almost inevitably continue to rise. The upward trend of referrals to adoption from 22 in 2009 to 49 in 2011/12 indicates that the rise in the care population is driven in part by young children in proceedings. National Picture Nationally there is a short fall of local authority foster carers available. 6 This shortage impacts on the recruitment drive by local authorities but also impacts on the choice of placements for children in care, retention of foster carers, permanency panning for children, and cost outcomes as foster care placements have to be sought from the independent fostering sector. Research regarding the motivation to foster is clear that processes need to be simplified and streamlined; support and training opportunities for carers are 5 Safeguarding & Improvement Unit 6 Fostering Network Leicestershire County Council

6 crucial; that foster carers should act as ambassadors for the fostering service and that raising the profile of fostering services is essential. Research and consultation with our current foster carers has raised issues about finance and the lack of transparency of Leicestershire's payment structure in terms of attracting new carers so this is being addressed with a payment for skills scheme that will support the remuneration of highly skilled and experienced foster carers and increase the clarity of the fee structure. Current Position At the 1st November 2012 Leicestershire had: 161 approved mainstream foster carers including a group of short breaks carers 51 kinship carers 14 supported lodgings providers In 2011/12 the service made a net decrease of 1 fostering household as a large number of carers who were on hold had their approvals terminated. Sixteen new mainstream foster carers were recruited and approved at fostering panel. Recruitment Strategy Additional investment for 2011/12 resulted in new recruitment material and branding in the form of "Space for a child" for our fostering and adoption services. The rebranding and efforts resulted in the revision of the website with some high profile media and advertising campaigns. This raised the profile of Leicestershire and contributed to a higher number of assessments in the latter part of the year Investment for 2012/13 has led to the recruitment of a family finding team, which will work across fostering and adoption with the aim of achieving permanence for children in care. This team of part time Adoption and Permanency Team Manager and two family finding social worker posts commenced in September The team will support permanency work for children in care by actively seeking families for children in need of adoption or long term fostering. By linking the team we hope to maximise the opportunity to seek adoption and permanency for all children in care as appropriate. This team will support the permanency tracking work and look at creative family finding opportunities including activity days, use of videos and targeted recruitment for individual children. The team are in the process of recruiting a full time recruitment officer to support the work of this team and ensure a presence at the community events to raise the profile of the fostering and adoption service in Leicestershire. A communications plan is in place to target recruitment at a number of Leicestershire County Council

7 festivals and fairs scheduled in the next 6 months. Placement Commissioning Recommendations: This work included an analysis of current foster carers (June 2011) and highlighted a number of key issues with the following recommendations: The age profile of the mainstream carer population requires consideration when determining the numbers likely to be lost to the service and therefore the number of new carers needed to replace them. Within Leicestershire there were a significant number of carers over the age of 70 which is linked to increasing morbidity and ill health. The likelihood of them retiring in the near future is high. The population of Leicestershire is increasing in diversity and the concentration of deprivation in certain geographical areas should influence targeted recruitment to increase the number of carers in children s local communities. Some recruitment campaigns have been successful in linking with local groups i.e. community associations or faith groups as a means to promote localised recruitment and this may be worth exploring. Approving carers and linking them in a timely way with children who are waiting should be a key element of the placement strategy The Recruitment Strategy will ensure that the Fostering and Adoption Service maintains a high profile within the community with a view to attracting potential carers using media stories and local fairs and events to promote the service. Develop policy and practice that supports placement with connected persons. All members of the public who contact the service about becoming carers will receive a timely response from the service. Leicestershire County Council

8 Review the foster carer payment system with a view to making it easier to explain and implement Devise and implement a system to monitor timescales at each stage of the recruitment process. The fostering service note the increase of children with disability who require a CPP and liaise with the Disabled Children s Social Work Team in order to prepare the service for the likely referrals of disabled children for placements with their siblings. This includes consideration of investment in adaptations to a small number of foster homes as well as the recruitment of additional carers. The use of IFA placements should be limited to providing placements for children and young people with significant additional needs or a specific reason arising out of their care plan. If possible IFA should be used as part of the strategy to minimise the use of spot purchased residential care and maximise occupancy rates in contracted provision Given the difficulty experienced by most local authorities in recruiting carers for teenagers with challenging behaviour this provision should probably remain one that is bought from IFA. Consideration should be given to targeted recruitment and training provision for in-house foster carers to help meet the needs of under16 UASC. The aim of the fostering recruitment and retention strategy should be to increase the number of in-house placements to the point where no child without additional needs or a specific reason, specified in their care plan, is placed in an IFA placement. Calculations in 2011 resulted in a target of increasing the number of foster carers by The Head of Service, Team Managers and Communications Officer of the Fostering & Adoption Services will evaluate the effectiveness of the strategy and will make sure information is available which will form the 7 Placement Commissioning Report 2011 Leicestershire County Council

9 basis of succeeding strategies and targets. Carers should be encouraged to be ambassadors for the service through the mentoring programme and locality co-ordinators who promote fostering and support campaigns. An annual foster carer award ceremony is undertaken to recognise and promote the work of fostering and support the retention of foster carers. Target Audience While it s important to aim the campaign at all potential foster carers and adopters, ie Leicester/shire residents 21 or over, in 2012 our campaign will also focus on several key target audiences including: Current foster carers to become adopters (including those involved in the short breaks/ supported lodgings schemes) BME (specifically black, or dual-heritage) adults, to foster/adopt a number of black/ dual-heritage children that urgently need homes Lesbian, gay or bisexual couples who want to become parents New adopters prepared to adopt sibling groups, to meet the needs of sibling groups in need of family finding Specific geographical areas include Melton Mowbray (for all services) and foster homes in Loughborough, Hinckley and Coalville. Additional target areas (for adoption only) are those outside of Leicestershire (e.g. surrounding counties and Leicester). Current adopters locally, regionally and nationally who may be able to provide a home to our children who wait. Leicestershire County Council

10 Targets Generate 300 fostering enquiries and 150 adoption enquiries to the enquiry line with the ultimate aim of attracting 30 new foster carers and 25 new adopters including 6 prepared to adopt sibling groups. Increase the number of foster carers and adopters from those specific groups identified above Attract 5 households to become short breaks carers, and 10 to open their homes to a young person through the supported lodgings scheme (essentially this doubles what we achieved in 2011/12) To place children who wait for permanent family finding with suitable families, within 6 months Leicestershire County Council

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