SEVEN Thurrock foster carers had to be suspended despite a national shortage because of insufficient standards of care, it has been revealed.
Dan Jones, Thurrock’s strategic lead for looked after children, gave an update on a fostering recruitment campaign to the children’s services committee on Wednesday.
He said: “The national context is challenging for local authorities. Independent agencies like Ofsted are reporting that demand for foster carers is exceeding the number available nationally and people are more likely to enquire about fostering but less likely to proceed with an application.
“In July 2022 the care review was published and a recommendation from the national review was there should be a centrally led campaign seeking to recruit 3,000 additional carers each year for the next three years which is an incredibly challenging target.”
Mr Jones said the Thurrock remuneration to fosterers was “competitive” and carers benefited from a council tax waver. He said the service had been successful in recruiting and two carers were in the process of approved, but a number were coming to the end of fostering life or leaving.
In addition, seven households had approval suspended because of standards of care concerns.
Mr Jones said: “Standards of care issues can vary. They can be the result of a change of someone’s circumstance or they can be the result of a particular incident. You might have fostered for a very long period of time but there is a particular incident that we need to look into and sometimes that means you can’t continue to foster.
That may be within your role as a fosterer or something outside of that. The important thing for us is that we maintain a safe service so the carers we do have are suitable and where there are standards of care issues we deal with them.”
At the end of July 2022, there were 285 children looked after by Thurrock Council with 214 placed in foster homes.
The council is carrying out an extensive recruitment campaign. Since April there have been 171 applications with just 11 making it through the fostering process and approved.