This national stock take make the following recommendations:
- a national register of carers. A database that could hold details of their fostering agency; the date of their approval as carers; where they live; the number of beds and bedrooms in their home; the number of vacancies for children; personal characteristics (age, gender, ethnicity, religion and language) and their level of expertise. This could improve recruitment and also provide a vacancy management system and radically improve matching.
- greater regional cooperation could concentrate marketing expertise, and make better use of marketing budgets and we urge local authorities to consider combining their recruitment efforts.
- the Department for Education consider re-branding and re- launching First4Adoption (F4A) to improve foster carer recruitment. The Department for Education would have to provide a substantial amount of the funding but local authorities and IFAs might be expected to contribute to a service which should help them to reduce their own marketing spend.
- all local authorities and IFAs to review and where necessary improve the way they handle initial enquiries. Established evidence suggests there is the scope to convert many more enquirers into foster carers. And we recommend the greater use of mystery shopper techniques to monitor the quality of response to enquirers.
- that local authorities and independent agencies should invite a much larger proportion of resigning and retiring carers to exit interviews.
See the full report here.