Councillors will discuss a recommendation to appoint a charitable organisation to operate the council’s new fostering and adoption service.
The first of its kind in the country, the Permanency Service will enable the council to improve outcomes for children and young people in care and on the edge of care.
Following an extensive tendering process The Adolescent and Childrens Trust, known as TACT, has been named as the preferred bidder. TACT is a leading national charity and is highly experienced in providing both fostering and adoption services.
The new service will reduce reliance on high cost independent fostering placements as well as providing improved training and 24/7 support for foster carers. It’s also hoped that the new service will increase the number of Peterborough-based foster carers looking after teenagers as well as children and young people with more challenging care needs.
Councillors will now discuss the recommendation on 12 September 2016 before it goes to the council’s cabinet for formal agreement.
Lou Williams, service director for children’s services at Peterborough City Council, said: “Staff, foster carers and some of the young people under our care have been fully involved in the development of the proposals from the outset, including the selection process. We had three good quality bids but overall TACT achieved the highest score during the process.
“This is a highly innovative approach and there is considerable interest at a national level. 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.
“Currently we spend around £4million every year on independent foster placements and many of these are further from the city than we would like. We believe this new service will enable us to recruit and retain more local foster carers who will be better supported, leading to longer-term permanent foster placements.
“It will also enable us to reduce how much we spend through independent fostering agencies. By spending less on these independent placements, we will be able to invest in services for our most vulnerable children and young people as well as delivering savings for the council.”
It’s expected that the new service will produce savings of £1million per year once it is fully established.
If agreed, TACT will deliver all fostering, adoption and special guardianship services in the city for ten years, with an option to extend for a further ten years. The new service would be implemented from April 2017.
The Permanency Service would be based at the city council and overseen by a joint board including senior council officers. Current city council staff working in fostering and adoption would transfer to TACT.
Adoption services in Peterborough are currently rated good by Ofsted.