Have your say on new placement strategy for children in care

Central Bedfordshire Council is consulting on a new strategy to ensure it has good quality homes for children in its care and further improve on its ‘good’ Ofsted rating for ensuring they have safe and stable homes.

The Looked After Children Placements Strategy is also aimed at reducing demand on the care system by providing earlier intervention for children in its care, with locally-based services that work better together to help vulnerable families.

Nationally and locally there is a shortage of foster carers in CBC while other residential placements are becoming increasingly expensive. Therefore, the strategy aims to:

  • Provide quality placements that offer safe and stable homes and contribute to children and young people achieving positive outcomes.
  • Directly provide or commission local accommodation to meet the needs of children and young people
  • Ensure value for money by balancing the cost with quality and minimising the need for children to move placements.
  • The strategy proposes to address these areas in three phases, looking first at foster care by growing and maintaining a pool of in-house foster carers, especially those who can foster children with more complex needs. 

The second phase proposes to quickly get the right support to meet the individual needs of a 16+ young person, selecting this support from providers who have already met the Council’s robust quality criteria. Also, paying for one-off placements, such as parent and child units, will be improved through the introduction of standard contractual arrangements that ensure quality, value for money and compliance.

The third phase is residential care.

Cllr Sue Clark, Executive Member for Families, Education and Children, said: “We have pledged to young people in our care that we will provide homes where they feel safe, settled and happy. Our outcomes for this are good but we want to improve them further. The Looked After Children’s Placement Strategy is designed to do help us work more efficiently and we would like to hear residents’ views on the proposals.”

The consultation is open until 5pm on 18 August and you can have your say by answering a questionnaire on the Council’s website at www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/consultations or you can pick up a paper copy from council offices in Chicksands or Dunstable.

Feedback from this consultation will be presented to the Council’s Executive Committee for a decision and, if given approval, will be used to inform the development of services specifications for independent fostering (IFA) and semi-independent accommodation recommissioning. This will take place in late 2019 with a view to new IFA arrangements being in place by 1 April 2020.

The new semi-independent arrangement should be in place by 1 April 2021 and the residential accommodation by 2022.

Report by KW, Central Bedfordshire Council

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