The fostering and adoption service run by Peterborough City Council will be taken over by a charity.
The council’s Conservative-run cabinet agreed this morning (Monday, September 26) to appoint The Adolescent and Children’s Trust (TACT) to run the council’s new Permanency Service, which includes fostering and adoption.
The Permanency Service starts from April 2017 and will be the first of its kind in the country.
The 10-year contract for TACT is worth more than £126 million.
Councillor Sam Smith, cabinet member for children’s services, called the move an exciting opportunity.
She said: “TACT is the UK’s largest fostering and adoption charity and agency and has an extensive track record in delivering positive outcomes for children and young people in care.
“We believe that this new partnership will enable us to recruit and retain more local foster carers through an improved support network that TACT will deliver. This will lead to more local longer-term foster placements for Peterborough children and young people.
“As we reduce our spend on placements for children in care we will be able to invest in additional services for our most vulnerable young people.
“We believe this partnership will secure good fostering and adoption services for the long-term in Peterborough as council budgets are further reduced.”
The partnership with TACT is expected to deliver savings of £1 million a year once it is fully established.
Staff working as part of the Permanency Service will be based at city council offices and overseen by a joint board including senior council officers.
Current council staff working in fostering and adoption will transfer to TACT.
Lou Williams, the council’s service director for children and safeguarding, said: “I really do think this is a very good opportunity for children, young people and the council. It’s a unique and very innovative approach.
“TACT has many years of experience recruiting foster carers. That’s very much their core business and it’s not ours.
“They are also able to bring the infrastructure around 24/7 support which is really critical for carers.”
Mr Williams said staff who transfer over to TACT will not see the terms and conditions of their contracts worsen, adding: “TACT are a very good employer. A number of staff have been Googling the terms and conditions of working for them and like what they see.”
Asked about the consequences if the council did not sign up with TACT, Mr Williams said: “TACT has really good, innovative proposals for children to successfully return home.
“The beauty of this is it’s a very strong recruiting model. It’s a charity and that’s very attractive for foster carers.”
Andy Elvin, chief executive officer of TACT, said: “We are delighted to have been given the opportunity to work with Peterborough City Council to manage the new Permanency Service. We look forward to launching the service next year and further improving outcomes for children in Peterborough.”