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Changing LA

(16 Posts)
dawdyman Tue 12-Nov-13 13:40:27

Children being moved back to LA's foster care is a short sighted practise that it based around money and absolutely horrid for the children.... there are advocacy charities that will pick up the cause when this happens, but the agencies should also be advocating for the needs of the children. I have known this practise stopped with good advocacy.

Sadly, sibling groups are split... I see this happen regularly. Sometimes there just are not the carers locally, IFA or LA to keep the children together locally.... but it does happen for what LA directors see as money decisions.

Regarding children being left at home.. for children to be removed from home without parental consent... this would need to be a court decision. A court would direct the LA to place the children in their care with no regard for their budgets.... only the interest of the children.

scarlet5tyger Tue 12-Nov-13 13:18:33

Dawdyman, you raise some good points. My own LA cannot even afford stationary at the moment - it's a small example but SWs are providing their own pens and FCs are no longer provided with diaries. The support friends who foster for IFAs receive is also unquestionably superior to that I receive from the LA - they can expect their phone calls to be returned within 24 hours. I can sometimes be lucky to have my phone call returned at all. The money and benefits their children receive is better - the children regularly go on days out to places like zoos, theme parks, bowling, cinema... The last time my LA put anything like this on for their LAC was 2011. Small things like this matter.

On the other hand, I can categorically say that children in my local area are being left at home rather than placed with agency carers. Sibling groups are regularly split between LA carers - I have half of one living with me right now. Children already with agency carers are being brought back to LA carers ASAP, despite many of us expressing disgust at this. So I'd argue that at least in my area (quite a tough, inner city Borough) IFAs are absolutely a last resort.

dawdyman Tue 12-Nov-13 10:25:33

Hi NanaNina, I know I am going a bit off beam here, but just wanted to balance the argument out a bit about IFA's having grown up in a fostering household, my parents fostered for the LA, worked as a Social Worker in an LA and an IFA. I initially struggled morally in working for an IFA because of the profit form childcare issue bugged me.

I can too recall a child I worked with placed in south wales when the home LA was in the south east. These days it is particularly rare for children to be placed hundreds of miles away from their home LA, unless there is significant need, often this happens now when children leave childrens homes in an areas they have settled in. There is a duty on LA's and IFA's to match according to need, not mention performance indicators to deter LA's placing a long way away from their borough. When you look at inner city boroughs and leafy affluent la's such as Surrey (sweeping generalisation I know!) they have difficulty recruiting foster carers due to either a high amount of social housing and homes without spare rooms and high cost of housing and people not affording houses with spare rooms... so in many instances they are forced to place out of borough in any event.

My comment about receiving referrals from different LA's was more about, for example, you could live in Hackney and therefore receive referrals for children from Waltham Forest, Islington, Haringey, Enfield, tower hamlets. In these instances carers are often able to maintain contact with family, maintain the same schools and keep to the same support services and appointments that have always been in place.

Currently IFA's are no longer a last resort, LA's cant meet the need for good foster carers. If the choice were to split a sibling group of 4 across three foster placements or place together with one IFA carer they will usually keep siblings together. Further, IFA's offer more specialist provisions such as a greater capacity for parent and child placements, remand placements.

Regarding the cost issue. This is, in many cases, a myth. I am not saying there are no unscrupulous agencies purely motivated by profit. In my experience the majority make decisions based on childrens needs and will forgo their profit on occasions when it's needed. Local Authority's cannot operate as efficiently as IFA's and they are not as expensive as we are often led to believe. Their fee to a LA accounts for all of the 'on costs', so that fee pays the carers , pays their SSW, pays the administration, pays the other staff (very few tiers of management), utility bills, office rent/motgage, stationary, IT systems, training for carers and staff etc.... it pays for the whole fostering service. I have it on good authority from a number of LA's that they cannot provide a fostering service for a comparable fee, largely due to the inefficient or wasted resources within LA's.

newfostercarer Thu 07-Nov-13 20:33:33

I know Nana I definitely would not want to have to look after a child from a county so far away... also what about contact and meetings etc, it seems very expensive and unnecessarily traumatic for the child? I really hope all will be well over the next year or until i finish the cwdc/standards workbook and its signed off and then I may try to move to another LA I think. As I said I was initially ok with £137/week allowance (apparently this includes fc fee... but fostering network says this same amount is the minimum basic child allowance only) as I have some savings for now but when I realised most LA around me offer more and even double I was kicking myself for not checking before applying. I assumed it was normal. Anyway I am sure ill be very happy fostering and that is what matters as to be able to help little ones would fill my heart with joy. X

NanaNina Thu 07-Nov-13 11:49:18

I think one of the problems is that there is no way of knowing for social workers just when children are going to need to be removed from home for whatever reason, whether that's with or without consent of the birthparents. Hence they will have difficulty in giving you an "average wait" - I have known carers wait for ages for their first placement and get very fed up and then once they start, it seems to naturally pick up.

Glad to hear that you want to stay with the LA (at least you are not lining the pockets of directors of IFAs!) It is true as dawdyman says that IFAs receive referrals from LAs on a national basis. However I think it is horrendous for a child/ren to be moved hundreds of miles away from their home, extended family, school, friends etc. Very often children don't want to leave their home, even if they are being abused or neglected and moving them so many miles from home (in some cases) just exacerbates the trauma they will suffer. Many children have never left their home town. I recall a girl from Carlisle being placed with carers in the Shire county that I worked for (some 200 miles away) with an IFA carer and the girl thought she was in another country!

Also LAs are only going to use an IFA placement as a very last resort as they charge the LA so much for their families and of course they cost in all the additional services for a child, which of course depletes the dwindling financial resources of the LA even more. I have heard from 2 very reliable sources (in different LAs) that they are having to leave children in unsafe homes because they can't afford to look after them if they remove them. How awful is that? I put the blame with the govt for swinging the axe at all public services, so that they will fail to provide and then the govt will privatise the service. 70% of the Probation service is being privatised and bids are being invited from Serco and G4S both of whom are being investigated for fraud!!

Sorry I know I tend to go off on a political rant. I just can't bear to think that foster carers are being treated so badly when they are doing one of the most important jobs in society in my view. Incidentally I don't blame carers going to IFAs as they pay so much more, and sometimes wonder how LAs are able to retain carers in the current economic climate.

newfostercarer Wed 06-Nov-13 20:23:36

Thank you both scarlet and dawdyman good points I think it's really worth waiting then and get more experience but also more experience of the LA and the system so as to know what is the best next move for the future. I would like not to go to an IFA if I can and if possible just switch to a better paying LA but in a year or so ill definitely be wiser and do my research better. What scarlet said about finding out the average wait for placements is something I'll definitely look into too. I'd be interested to follow what you do scarlet in regards to your situation too. Thanks all x

dawdyman Wed 06-Nov-13 10:05:23

if you live inner city and have space for siblings or can work with adolescents, I would get a bit of experience under your belt and then go to an IFA, you will get better support, better training, be more valued and the income will be so improved that you can save for barren times and still be better off.

You can only work for one agency or one local authority. however, if you work for a LA, you will only receive referrals for children from that LA. If you work for an IFA, the receive many more referrals for many more children across many LA's (some agencies as many as 60). However, the 'easier' to manage children are mostly placed 'in-house'...

scarlet5tyger Tue 05-Nov-13 21:23:37

Just a little thing, but are you able to check how long carers with your neighbouring LAs wait for placements? I'm in a similar situation to you, in that there are a number of LAs very very close to me all offering more money, and when I was first approved i kicked myself for not looking around properly. Now that the purse strings have been tightened everywhere though the FCs from neighbouring LAs seem to be waiting much longer than we do between placements (presumably because they attract more carers in the first place with their higher payments)

Standardising payments across the country is way overdue, and foster caring will not be seen as a profession (despite patronising comments from government insisting that it is) until it happens. As Nananina often says though, this government won't do that because they're simply not interested in foster care until its privatised.

newfostercarer Tue 05-Nov-13 20:43:11

Ps i meant hopefully not hourly above...
Also reason my assessment was maybe "on time" is that our council uses external outsourced sw services.

newfostercarer Tue 05-Nov-13 20:34:02

Thank you Scarlet, Mum2lots, Dawdyman and NanaNina you are indeed right I am new to it with no placement yet and in an inner city with several closeby other councils to whom I'd be close so hourly I'd be fairly appealing to them too. I am grateful my council approved me and maybe things would have been different elsewhere and all took 8 months from when I first called but I have not been that happy with some aspects and now finding out that nearby councils offer double and more allowance including a fee for the same age range has upset me.
I think the best thing is to stay with my council for a year and do the cwdc book and evidence workbook whilst hopefully having one or more placements and then maybe move when I have no placement if I still feel the same way. I just hope I would not have to start all over again.
I was just wondering if anyone else had done this and when was the best time to move. I read of a couple who moved from ifa after being approved, due to no placements, to a la, in 3 months so I imagine most form f was transferred. luckily I keep copies of everything. Thank you I can see this forum will be very helpful x

NanaNina Tue 05-Nov-13 17:32:46

It's true that you can change to another LA but you can only be registered by one agency. You call yourself "newfostercarer" and so I am wondering what you mean by "giving notice when you don't have a child in placement" - do you mean that since you were approved you haven't had a child in placement.

The new LA will want full details of your reasons for wanting to change.

Dawdyman you mention new Regs - which new Regs are these? It may well say that in the Regs but given that SSDs up and down the country are struggling to recruit and retain social workers and have had their budgets slashed by this govt., then it certainly will be longer than 8 months from picking up the phone. This is what this govt wants - fewer resources because of the cuts and improved services. Can't be done.

dawdyman Tue 05-Nov-13 16:22:49

Yes, you can change LA or change to an's up to you who you foster for. The only difficulty you may find is that fostering for a LA outside the area you live in, you will be less appealing to them as keeping children at the same schools, being able to attend contact, making use of the LA's in house services, CAMHS etc may not be easy for you if you have to travel?? Agencies do offer an alternative, but it would depend on if you have any preferences in 'who' you foster, in terms of ages, siblings, parent and child.

Where about do you live..roughly? inner city or rural?

You will have to go through the form f process again. I would make sure I had a copy of my own form F...that's the best advice I will give you.

The new regs make sure carers are at panel within 8 months of picking up the phone....

Ask away and i'll give you the best advice I can!

Mum2lots Mon 04-Nov-13 22:53:21

I'm sure new red have made it easier to transfer
ring fostering network to see xx

newfostercarer Mon 04-Nov-13 20:51:59

Thank you. The reason I ask is that I did not realise I could have applied at a nearby LA from where I live and now feel I have to stay with my LA which I am not so impressed with and also unfortunately gives the lowest allowances and the minimum allowance recommended by the fostering network which is "designed to cover the cost of looking after a fostered child, and does not include any form of fee for the foster carer.". It goes up 50 pounds after you finish your CWDC and evidence workbook but until then you are working on a voluntary basis in theory. I always wanted to do fostering and am happy to be worse off and have given up work but I dont understand how my LA can offer so much less than other LAs. I had spoken to agencies and wanted to work directly for the council after that, but never realised there was such difference between councils. I wonder how long to wait before trying to change.

scarlet5tyger Mon 04-Nov-13 08:20:24

I think you basically have to start the approval process again, sorry. Your form F belongs to your LA (as do you basically!)

newfostercarer Mon 04-Nov-13 05:33:43

Hello I am wondering if it is possible to transfer and foster for a nearby LA when already approved to foster for the LA you live in and how hard in practice and emotionally this is (if giving notice when not having a child in placement for instance). Experiences would be appreciated. Thank you x

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