The Service Manager for Fostering and Specialist Commissioning Manager introduced the report.
· The Deputy Mayor, Children Services, Education and Equalities paid tribute to foster carers in the city, who did a phenomenal job, and she had attended awards ceremonies in the city that thanked the children and carers.
· The Deputy Mayor informed Members of her first-hand experience of a young person through the care system in Bristol who had gone on to become a qualified midwife and her foster family had done everything they could to ensure wider family connection was sustained, which was just one of the great examples of the role foster carers had played in the city; and she encouraged as many people as possible to consider the role; that people became foster carers as they cared.
· Members stated that foster caring was phenomenal, as were the people who did it.
· Members asked how long the foster care recruitment process took, and were advised 6 months, and it was the aim for this to be reduced to 4-5 months for a thorough process; that 25 were recruited last year, and the ideal was to recruit 30 households a year.
· There was a discussion around foster carers fees, and it was commented that it was positive they had gone up, and Members were advised that people’s motivation to foster was considered carefully when assessments were undertaken.
· There was a discussion around how the support to extend properties worked and the Commission was advised that there were checks and balances and strict criteria foster carers needed to have met to gain access to that.
· Care leavers’ access to recruitment or work experience was raised,and Members were advised that there was currently an apprenticeship scheme which employed care-experienced young people within the service; and other services in the city and the Council were encouragedto provide apprenticeships for care-experienced people.
· Members heard that the apprenticeship scheme was positive and challenging for the young people, although they were very committed and some had ambitions to be social workers. There were five apprentices in the service now. There had also been a recent recruitment within the service of a care leaver, and their drive, determination and personal experience and understanding was beneficial to the work of the service.
· Members commended the content of the report and highlighted the move to smaller homes as positive; and enquired whether ‘children’s home’was an appropriate term to use. Members were advised that the team had carried out work on institutionalised language, which included changing terms such as ‘having contact’ to a more positive ‘having time with your family,’ and children’s homes were previously known as ‘units,’ and ‘group homes;’ that this was a conversation to have with the young people.
· There was a discussion around practicalities of fostering, which include people who wanted to foster but did not have an extra room, and Members were advised that different options would be discussed with potential foster carers, this included room share dependant on age of children, different circumstances and options.
· The Chair provided thanks to all the staff who worked with foster carers and young people with care-experience, and the foster carers who did great work.
That the report be noted.