Disabled children and young people are unnecessarily in residential care because of an underestimation of the capability of specialist foster carers and system inertia. This inertia is the result of the competing pressures on social workers, the emotional sense of failure felt by birth parents when presented with an alternative family placement, and the linear nature of care planning, compounded by limited access to specialist foster carers. This means that some are placed at distance from their home, creating problems in monitoring placements and maintaining contact.
The primary outcomes of this project are to enable a significant proportion of the disabled children in care to transfer successfully to specialist foster care placements, which are provided by well-motivated and trained foster carers receiving bespoke support. The child’s care plan will be co-produced between the child and parent, with clear outcomes and milestones defined throughout the process.
In order to fundamentally shift outcomes for disabled young people in care, we will focus initially on intelligent local recruitment. By applying a profile of successful specialist foster carers, we will recruit a number of suitable foster carers. Alongside this, triangulation work with social workers, IRO’s and parents will help to identify those young people most suitable for foster care. Project and support staff will be trained in the care of disabled young people and in order to be able to meet their specific needs. Furthermore, the project coordinator will map the service network that supports each young person to ensure there is continuity of care. There are two main approaches within the evaluation of our project: qualitative research using interviews and cost-benefit analysis. Consideration of the impact of the project on the service processes surrounding the placement of disabled children will be a key issue to consider in so far as assessing the extent to which this is a system effect. A further critical element of the project is the concept of co-creation/consultation about the service offer and we will include this within the evaluation of the project.
Please contact the organisation for further detail
Staffordshire County Council, Hertfordshire County Council