Purpose of the yearly review(16 Posts)
The la that I work for have loads of kids in long term ifa placements. Stability being behind it. I know ours often ask for a fee reduction though which the agency is usually happy to accept as it means they are getting regular money.
It is confusing The LA have already agreed permanancy, the children have been with us for over a year, just to be reassessed as permanent instead of short term. We have been fostering for quite a while now. We have a specific skill set and 2 of the children are SN. I spent my first few years of fostering on a very steep learning curve and never really had time to pay attention to the business end of our IFA. My DH and I think now would be a good time to go to LA as we need to be reassessed anyway. The children are doing very well and we feel like we are becoming a family unit. Small steps! They seem to be achieving and moving forward at a remarkable rate The youngest is 9.
Sorry I'm still not clear. You mention the children you have (who are hopefully permanent) are from a different area. I can't imagine any LA willing to buy carers from an IFA on the basis of permanent foster care because of the costs involved. IFA placements are only used as a last resort, but you say you have few vacancies and only for short period of time, so that must mean that LAs don't have enough fcs of their own. There is a national shortage of fcs., and many of them will go to IFAs and I can't say I blame them, as they are paid more and if necessary there is the finance to provide additional support, as I think I'be mentioned before.
Presumably these children (who you hope will become permanent) were placed with you on a short term basis. How old are they btw? I can't see any way that they can remain with you on a permanent basis because of the costs. I imagine the placing LA will be looking for permanent carers in their own LA.
The thing is with being IFA carers is that you will get children from miles away, as LAs have to use an IFA if they cannot place the child in their own LA. Where I worked we got together with neighbouring LAs and formed a consortium, and there was an agreement that we would pay a reduced rate of the inter-agency fee. Not sure if other LAs do this.
I think you have to decide whether you want to foster on a short term basis or a permanent basis (as you mention children placed with you and you are hoping they will become permanent) I can't see any way that you can keep these children on a permanent basis. IF you were with a LA and the children were placed on a s-t basis and it was all working out so well, then you would be ableto talk with the LA about the various routes to permanency. These placements are very successful, as carers are sure they want to keep the children as they have come to know them very well while on a s-t basis.
Is it just these children you mention who you want to keep on a permanent basis? IF you moved to the LA you could be assessed as s-t carers or permanent carers, though I always think it best to start off with s-t term children.
I think you have to decide whether you will stay put or talk to the LA about being carers for them.
Have I got it right now?!
Hi NanaNina, sorry I never made it clear. As I was becoming more aware of the money my agency was making I tried to move to the LA with the child I already had in placement. He was costing the placing LA a fortune and I said I was willing to change to them to save money. This was the child out of area. The placing authority said I was too far away (fair enough - 2hr drive), I then suggested to the placing LA that I try to move to the LA in my area. That is when I was told that my LA would charge the placing LA almost as much as my IFA. Does that make more sense? My DH and I are talking about changing to fostering for our LA. Problem is, our children (hopefully permanent), again are from a different area! I also have quite good fun asking my SW tricky questions! She is very good at not giving straight answers! However, we are quite a close group of carers and I do know we have very few spaces, usually for very short periods of time. Also our company accounts are available online cos we are a registered charity, they make interesting reading. Just typing the word charity, know how misused it is is getting me annoyed - charity!! Certainly starts at home with our lot and their racehorses, fast cars and more.
Sorry meant to say - would you consider fostering for a LA. Maybe you could ask the IFA how many children they place with their carers over say a 12 month period, broken down into age ranges. I don't think this is an unreasonable request but I have no doubt they would try and fob you off, but it's worth a try. I'd like to know!!!
Hi Music no I don't know the IFA you are working for, but you can PM if you like - shouldn't be on this open forum. Makes little difference though because all the IFAs work in much the same way. Yes it is a way to improve foster care as you have seen for yourself, but they charge the LA for additional support for the child and FC. This is all well and good but I don't think many iFA carers realise that they charge the LA for the entire package - approved carers and support for any children placed who are in need e.g. psychological service or education or children with no school placement etc etc. It creates a 2 tier system where some children have ther additional help and support they need and LA children and fcs don't get this.
Interesting that the office is understaffed and this may well be because fewer and fewer LAs can afford to buy the IFA families.
I suppose the thing is with LAs they can't afford to pay all LA foster carers, but know that only the minority of chldren will need an IFA placement, so it's a way of keeping costs down. Unfair though. I have been retired from LA children's services for 8 years and we were hugely under resourced then,, but now that Cameron has come along swinging his axe, I am told the situation in LAs is absolutely dire, and I can well believe this.
A bit confused about your wanting to foster a child from another LA. How did you know about this other out of area child? Anyway regardless of that you can't be a registered carer for more than one organisation so you couldn't take a LA child in any event. I think what they were referring to about finance is that LAs charge "inter-agency" fees (if another LA (often referred to as an agency) if child is placed with another LA. I doubt very much that the inter-agency fee matches an IFA, but I don't think you were given correct advice.
What political party does your local MP belong to. Hate to say it that lobbying any MP (even labour) won't get far, because both labour and tories are totally sold on privatisation. Labour started it with turning schools under LA control into academies for no good reason other than making profits. The tories have come in and privatised anything they can. The NHS is being sold off to private entrepenuers who know nothing about the NHS but they know about business and this is all the govt care about, because it makes big profits for them and the businesses who take over public services.
Maybe you could sort of ask your iFA how it works as you have been wondering what the difference is between IFA and LA. Am pretty sure you won't get the truth but now you know you could be puzzled about charges etc. Might make them squirm a bit.
I know someone who started an IFA and was a sw in the LA that I worked for and was absolutely useless as a sw and in the end left because "unsatisfactory performance procedures" were being taken against him, which can lead to dismissal. And guess what............yep you've got it he started an IFA, became very rich and sold the business to someone else when he had made enough money. He's probably in the Maldives right now!
Fosterangel, apologies for hijacking your thread!
Nananina, sounds like you know of the company I am working for. I was very angry when I found out about the racehorses etc. When I joined I was told the company had been set up by people who had seen a way to improve fostercare. It is true we take challenging placements (I had a 4 year placement with diagnosed SRAD) with better support. Because of the support packages we are able to give more troubled children a good shot at family life. Our office is understaffed - it would appear the money is going elsewhere. Like you I cannot understand why the council can pay ILA's but not their own carers and, like you, I am expecting the sticky end. I have tried to go to LA's with previous placement and the placing authority (child out of area) wouldn't take us because of distance and didn't want us to go to our area LA because they would charge the placing authority similar amounts to the ILA Maybe we should start lobbying our new MP?? Start a thread? I am very new to mumsnet so not sure of my way around yet.
Hi music yes I'm afraid paperwork is just totally over the top for sws, be they IFAs or LA sws. I assume your ssw is an IFA one as this is costed in when they sell a carer to a LA, so I am surprised to hear she is in a rush as they usually have time to spare as they don't have anything like the workload of LA sws. You should also be visited by the child's LA sw.
I think a lot of people don't realise about IFAs when they are being recruited and of course IFAs don'e explain the system to applicants for obvious reasons! This "not for profit" thing is also not true. All it means is that the IFAs don't pay shareholders, but it doesn't stop the directors paying themselves a large salary. They can afford to pay carers and staff more but still have plenty left over to line their pockets, all at the expense of the cash strapped LAs. The trouble is the govt is all in favour of any kind of privatisation, but I think it's a scandal and shouldn't be allowed.
I know someone who set up an IFA some years ago (one of the first ones I think) and he has a string of race horses, drives a Porche and has bought all his 4 children expensive houses, oh and a farm too for one of them!
Many LA carers are justifiably frustrated that LAs don't pay them the same as IFAs because they know that LA use IFA carers when nothing else is available as the child has to be placed somewhere. IFAs are the last resort and some LAs are in such dire financial straits that as soon as an "in house" placement becomes available, the child/ren are moved from the IFA carers, which of course is not good if the child is well settled, but I'm afraid LAs are so cash strapped (and that situation has worsened now as this govt has slashed the budgets of all public services) that they have to ensure as far as possible that they do no spend huge amounts of their depleted budgets to fund an IFA placement.
When I was a F & A Mngr is a LA we constantly badgered senior managers about this justifiable frustration that our carers had, knowing that we used IFAs when our "backs were against the wall" but all we got was that they could not afford to pay IFA rates to LA carers. Of course we told them that this meant we could lose carers to IFAs and this did happen, although some of them came back as they waited a long time for placements, and some stayed loyal to the LA.
Now as you will know IFAs are springing up all over the place, and I think the market is saturated with them, so they may come to a sticky end.
NanaNina, thanks for explanation. I still can't get my head around the very complicated and unnecessary paperwork my IFA makes us do. I see my SSW chasing her own tail trying to meet paperwork deadlines and all I would like is a 'am I doing this right' chat with her. I was unaware of the huge profits our company makes when I started fostering (in fact, their website said 'not for profit' but that was taken off for a while) and am thinking of doing a bit of research and changing over. I really was horrified when I realised how much profit they make and it seems it is not only football clubs that have questionable accounts!
The only purpose of the annual review is that it is stipulated in the Fostering Regs (minimum standards) that carers are reviewed annually, otherwise I can't imagine any hard pressed sw wanting to carry out such a charade. Sorry I don't mean that FCs aren't hard pressed as well!
However I was a mgr of a Fost & Adopt Team and chaired the review (which sounds much more formal than it was) It was an opportunity for me to meet the carers, and to thank them on behalf of the department for all their hard work with some very challenging children. Many carers said they were glad that their work was acknowledged and they had no problem with the review, but I'm sure others thought it was just a waste of time. I think it depended on the particular carers and we adapted the review to suit their needs. I think also it is a good opportunity for carers to raise any issues of concern.
Some LAs did "paper reviews" which I think were quite daft, as the sw and ssw and tm mgr sat down and talked through the placements and the carers and I think the carers were sent the minutes. Quite meaningless really although it might have suited some carers. Horses for courses really.
Music - IFAs have to review their own carers, just as LAs have to review their carers, and they aren't usually done by an IRO. There is usually the ssw, sw (possibly) and tm mgr (though all LAs have different arrangements) so it isn't any conflict of interest. Also LAs would certainly not want to offer independent services to an IFA, as they are already spending huge chunks of their budget on IFA carers because the IFAs "sell" their families to LAs at a very high cost.
Music: we do have forms this year (although we did not get any last year). I wish we could do ours at the LA offices rather than at home. It is all such an intrusion.
Same old things poked and raked over which we have long since sorted out to a good outcome with our SSW and the child's SW.
The only good thing is when they have all gone our family have a take-away afterwards as dinner is cancelled due to kitchen full of SW's!!
I am a bit confused about how differently everything is handled in different areas. All our reviews have been at our IFA office with our SSW, review chair and someone taking minutes (minutetaking new this year). Both my husband and myself are expected to attend, we also have paperwork to do beforehand re new skills, any problems etc. Our health and safety paperwork has all to be up to date and seen by our SW prior to the review. I thought the review was carried out by an independant review chair but ours seems to work for our company, which surely is a conflict of interest? I agree with Cornishsue, it is paperwork for paperworks sake. I know LAs have to make sure the kids are safe but I have always thought more random, unannounced checks would be better.
Fosterangel, if you have no forms to complete before the review you are very lucky! You should get a review report afterwards that says you can foster for another year with all that was discussed at the review in the report. Perhaps take some notes yourself?
Cornishsue - I gave a huge sigh of despair when I was told ours would be soon. Yet another evening when we are required to entertain social services and consign our foster child to his bedroom for a couple of hours.
We have monthly meetings with both sets of SW's in our home (ours and our foster child's) and we also have a yearly inspection of our home for safety and safe care planning. The LAC nurse also visits us at home yearly. The LA Education SW also visits us at home, as does the LA Connexions worker. Our (and our foster child's) SW know that they can call unannounced any time and we will happily let them in for a cuppa, catch-up, tour of our home and chat.
The IRO does not know us personally or our foster child (just the info from our files) so we find ourselves repeating the same information that is held anyway.
The purpose of a yearly review? To tick boxes on a form!
Sorry just disillusioned with the amount of paperwork that has to be completed by both the overworked SWs and FCs, leaving little time to discuss and deal with 'real' issues.
We are due our 1st yearly review soon and have been told our ssw will visit along with review officer. They will discuss how we have found fostering, ask some questions and it will be very informal. In our case it will only be myself and the fostering staff there, my dh need not be present.
Not sure what the exact purpose is, though expect it is a bit of a formality.
I thought we needed to attend panel again but we do not, our ssw goes on our behalf.
Could anyone please tell me what the exact purpose of our yearly review is.
I know that we need one every year in order to continue to be registered to foster but what purposes do they serve and what ought we to be saying/doing/preparing. Our SSW says just relax and say whatever you feel.
Also, who ought to be there.