Ofsted has for the first time highlighted the findings of its annual survey of children living in children’s homes and foster care.
Ofsted has compiled the responses of nearly 28,000 individuals and these have been set out in two slide packs – one focusing on the views of children and young people living in children’s homes and foster care; and the other focusing on the views of adults, including parents, carers, adopters and professionals working with children.
More than 3,000 children told Ofsted what was important about the care they received living away from home – and most children and young people said they were positive about moving into their children’s home and about the staff who cared for them.
The children said it was important that children and young people were welcomed into a family – and were helped to make good decisions in life.
The questionnaire revealed that feeling like part of the foster family was important to children and young people – including being able to talk to their foster carers about any problems they had, as well as being helped to get through difficult times.
The children said it was also important to feel that they were treated like a member of the family – and to know that their foster carers were “always there for them”; as well as feeling welcomed into the family and feeling safe, loved, supported and respected.
Among the adult questions, the six common themes for improvement were
provision of support for children and young people, foster carers and adopters; activities for children and young people; training for professionals, foster carers and adopters; recruitment and retention of staff and recruitment of foster carers and adopters; environment and facilities in a children’s home; and communication and influence.
The findings reveal that foster carers specifically want improved information-sharing between themselves and the fostering service or adoption agency, especially in relation to information about their foster children.
Foster parents also want to be treated as professionals and be able to share their views – and inform decisions about their foster children.
All groups of adults questioned said there could be improvements in communication or opportunities to have more influence – with more up-to-date information about incidents involving children.
This included more information for parents with children in children’s homes or being cared by foster parents, with more updates on what their child had been doing, information about if they were ill, or about changes to staff caring for them.
Adults also asked for more regular and consistent communication between all teams involved with the children, including giving adults more opportunity to provide their views and suggest areas for improvement to the children’s home, fostering service or adoption service.
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