Interest in foster care rising in Wakefield

More potential foster carers are coming forward across the district
More potential foster carers are coming forward across the district

Wakefield Council have reported a near 40 per cent increase in enquiries from people interested in becoming foster carers

The authority says that a total of 187 individuals and couples declared an interest in helping looked after children between April 2018 and March 2019.

Beate Wagner, corporate director for children's services

Beate Wagner, corporate director for children's services

It marks a rise from the 115 enquiries that were made in 2017/18.

The news follows last year’s Ofsted report which rated the council’s children’s services as “inadequate” and found “serious and widespread failures” across the department.

Ofsted had warned that too many children in care had to move placement because of the lack of local foster carers in Wakefield.

The report also found significant delays in temporary foster placements being approved as long-term matches for children in care.

Beate Wagner, Wakefield’s corporate director for children’s services, told councillors that although there had been more enquiries from potential foster carers, more needed to be done.

Speaking at a council audit committee meeting on Monday, she said: “We have a big drive to increase the sufficiency of placement for our children in care, so enough high quality, local placement.

“We have made good progress in increasing the number of our foster carers, but we also have carers leaving, so that’s absolutely continuing to be a big priority for us.”

The council has also created four additional places for young people in existing residential homes, and Ms Wagner also announced that two new children’s homes have been approved.

The new homes will house just two children each, which Ms Wagner said was a deliberate move to provide better care.

She added: “These will be normal houses in the community. The smaller a children’s home is, the less you have issues with matching because it’s only two children whose needs need to be able to compliment each other.”

Ofsted will carry out a second monitoring visit on May 21 and 22 to assess the progress of the children’s services.

During the meeting, concerns were raised that progress has been merely administrative and an independent member questioned whether the changes would add real value to the lives of children in Wakefield.

Ms Wagner assured councillors that the service would not let bureaucracy get in the way of having conversations about the needs of the children.

She said: “This is a big mapping exercise of what’s happening in the community, looking at what other resources are available in communities through the third sector or through a variety of partners.

"In the long term, we’re looking at how can we be a service which is much more available and focused on localities, and part of this is being able to have local dialogue and conversations.”