27 February 2018: News round-up – just four short items this week – enjoy!
London fostering commissioning under the spotlight
The way fostering in London is commissioned is the subject of a review by the Institute of Public Care at Oxford Brookes University. The IPC is looking at whether current arrangements result in local authorities competing against each other for independent fostering provision and how the system could be improved. The work has been ordered by the Association of London Directors of Children’s Services, and the IPC is looking for a cross-section of commissioning and front-line staff to be interviewed for the review that runs until the end of March.
School delays probed by TES
Comments from the Chief Schools Adjudicator last week (TWiF 20 February) prompted a series of “exclusives” from Times Educational Supplement on how children in care were suffering due to delays in moving them to a new school mid-year. (You may need to register to read these in full.) The TES covered the case of a child forced to wait nearly a year for a school place and wrote that the role of virtual school heads “is in serious jeopardy because of cuts and strained relationships with schools”. The role of the virtual school heads was expanded last year to include responsibility for children who had been adopted. One academies trust head in Kent was quoted as refusing to accept looked after children from outside the local area on the grounds that their safety from local criminals could not be guaranteed – prompting this further article in response.
New observatory to support better family justice decisions
From the beginning of March development will start on a new “observatory” intended to help the family justice system in England and Wales make the best possible decisions for children. The Nuffield Foundation Family Justice Observatory will analyse data on court decisions and link this to other information including research data and outcomes for children beyond the family court system.
The cost of winning your child back
And finally, the Transparency Project explains why a mother, who successfully won an appeal against her daughter’s adoption still had to pay her own legal costs. In care proceedings, legal aid is available, whatever the merits of the case or the income of the parents. The mother failed to have the original care order discharged but was granted leave to appeal against the decision – in which she was successful. However legal aid did not extend to covering the appeal.