Adoption and fostering services in Peterborough could be put out to private organisations in an effort to improve the service and save money.
Peterborough City Council is proposing the development of a new service which would secure permanent long-term placements for a range of young people who are looked after as quickly as possible. The service would also improve training and support available to foster carers and adopters.
Plans have today (Wednesday 4 November 2015) been announced that the council intends to explore partnership arrangements with a specialist provider that could allow for such a new service to be established in Peterborough.
It is hoped the plans would save the council £1 million over three years - although no jobs are at risk as a result of the proposals.
Currently both fostering and adoption services are performing well at the council. Adoption services in Peterborough were rated Good by Ofsted earlier this year and regionally the city has one of the lowest rates of moving young people once in foster care.
These proposals aim to build on this success and it is hoped a new partnership will increase the number of foster carers looking after teenagers and speed up the process to identify long-term placements for children and young people with more challenging care needs.
Wendi Ogle-Welbourn, corporate director: people and communities, said: “We are determined to offer the best possible services to our most vulnerable children and young people. In particular, those who are in care, or for whom a permanent long-term placement via adoption, special guardianship, fostering, or support to return to family care after a period having been looked after, is what they need in order to safeguard them from harm.
“The overall ambition is to place a higher percentage of young people in care with our own local foster carers. We know our local carers well and therefore we can better match the needs of our children in care and help keep these children close to the city to maintain vital relationships with family and friends. This will also enable us to reduce expenditure on higher cost placements, helping the council to achieve savings and enabling investment in other services for children, young people and their families.
“By delivering a service as efficiently as possible, in partnership with a specialist organisation, it will allow us to protect prevention and early help services in the city such as youth work and early years’ services. It will also increase our current capacity in recruiting, training and supporting our own foster carers and adopters.
“This is a way of helping to give to our foster carers what they have told us they need. They want a greater level of training and on-going support and when they are looking after more challenging children in care they need practical out of hours support on a 24/7 basis.”
Councillor Andy Coles, cabinet member for children’s services, said: “We all know that these are times of austerity. This means that public services have to think and do things differently if we are to continue to improve outcomes and be more efficient. That is why we will be exploring how new ways of working with specialist partners could be used to benefit the children and young people that need our help, as well as our own foster carers and adopters.
“Any partnership to develop a new service will have to prove to us that it can exceed the quality of delivery offered by our existing adoption and fostering services.”
It’s expected that the service will be put out to competitive tender early in 2016.