Support Foster Care

Developing a short-break service for children in need

Author/Editor(s):
Format:
Paperback / softback, 56 pages, 297 mm x 210 mm
ISBN:
9780854736973
Published:
1 May 2004
Imprint:
Institute of Education

Price: £7.95

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Local authority support foster care schemes help families who are experiencing difficulties or stress by providing short breaks for children and support for parents. They offer a flexible service that can be used in a variety of circumstances – for example, when a child is excluded from school or a parent needs regular short stays in hospital, as well as when parents are finding it hard to cope with their children. Support care schemes (apart from specialist schemes for disabled children) have been slow to develop, and the Thomas Coram Research Unit was commissioned to find out more about barriers that deter local authorities from establishing such schemes. Are legal issues – such as whether children in support care need to be treated as looked after – causing concern? Or do authorities fear that support schemes will compete with mainstream foster care for resources and potential carers? Support Foster Care explores these and other issues, presenting a comprehensive picture of the challenges of maintaining a support foster care scheme and the lessons that can be learned for future schemes.

  • Margaret Greenfields

    Thomas Coram Research Unit

    Institute of Education, University of London

  • June Statham

    Thomas Coram Research Unit

    Institute of Education, University of London

1. Introductory summary
Background
About the study
Key findings
2. Background to the study
Childminders and support care
Objectives of the study
Methods
Questionnaire to local authorities
Telephone interviews with local authorities
Case studies in local authorities
Telephone interviews with childminding schemes and survey of networks
Ethical considerations
Report structure
3. The extent and nature of support care schemes
The extent of schemes: survey analysis
The nature of schemes: interview data
Development of schemes
Staffing and resource issues
The service offered
The support care approach
Working with parents
Location and presentation of the service
Placement procedures
Profile of service users
Future developments
4. Barriers to developing support care schemes
Survey analysis
Legal barriers
Becoming looked after
Looking After Children documentation
Recording support care statistics
Recruitment barriers
Financial and resource barriers
Skills needed to provide support care
Organisational issues
Discussion
5. Costs and outcomes
Costs of support care schemes
Sources of funding
Payments to carers
Overall costs
Outcomes
Monitoring and recording
Preventing children becoming accommodated
Promoting continuity and stability for children
6. The motivation and experience of support carers
Background of carers
Routes into caring
Motivation for undertaking support care
The changing face of service users
Impact on carer’s family
Payment for support care
Support from the local authority
7. Childminders and support care
Introduction
Community childminding schemes revisited
Childminding networks
Views of social care professionals
Discussion
8. Conclusions
Support care: some key issues
Is support care an effective way of supporting children?
Does support care divert people from a career in mainstream fostering?
Where should a support care scheme be based?
Must children receiving support care be treated as ‘looked after’?
Developing an effective support care service
Strategic planning
Support and training for carers
Pay and allowances
Good communication
Record keeping
Concluding comments
Appendix
Legal issues of relevance to the development of support foster care