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Agenda item

Foster Carer Recruitment Updates


The Panel considered a report and presentation of the Placement Efficiency Manager presented by Rebecca Turner, Business Partner, which provided an overview of marketing activity to support the recruitment of foster carers, and, highlighted challenges facing the service (for copy of report and presentation see file of minutes).


Councillor Grant commented that whilst the marketing material provides a very positive picture of foster care, marketing could be considered to appeal to those who would welcome a more challenging foster care role, depending on their own background/experience etc.


Councillor Grant also requested further information regarding placement break-down, in particular whether foster carers are offered another placement soon after the breakdown of a placement.  The Fostering Team Manager replied that a decision to move a child from a placement is not taken lightly and a ‘disruption meeting’ is held before a placement move takes place.  There can be a range of factors which lead to the break-down of placements and every case is different.  In some instances, where a placement has broken down, it may not be appropriate to place another child into that placement.  The Fostering Team Manager advised that additional training and support is considered before the placement is ended.


Councillor Hopgood commented on the lack of representation of older teenagers in the marketing materials adding that older teenagers and other hard to place groups should be given more representation in the marketing campaign.  The Business Partner responded that this has been considered and she highlighted that the next edition of County Durham News includes an article by two teenagers about how positive their experiences of fostering have been.  The Business Partner added that the marketing experience shows that a general marketing campaign which captures interest and brings people ‘through the door’ is more effective than targeted marketing for specific groups.


In response to a question as to whether there is an upper-age limit for foster carers, the Fostering Team Manager replied that there is no upper-age limit and the ability to be a good foster carer has a very broad remit with older foster carers often bringing valuable experience.


Councillor McKeon asked whether marketing includes information about the support package offered to foster carers through the Full Circle service, as this may be beneficial and provide potential foster carers with reassurance that support is available throughout the process.


The Fostering Team Manager replied that information on the Full Circle service and the support available is promoted to initial enquirers.  The Business Partner added that more advice on the availability of the wrap-around care may be beneficial at the marketing stage and this suggestion will be given consideration.


In response to a question from Councillor Charlton as to whether independent fostering agencies offer foster carers more financial incentives, the Fostering Team Manager replied that it is difficult to know what IFAs actually pay their foster carers.  Durham offers a tier system which provides career progression as they become more experienced foster carers.  The Head of Children’s Social Care added that one of Durham’s marketing strengths lies in the amount of support available and suggested that members could promote this aspect when talking about fostering in Durham.  Councillor Charlton commented that Corporate Parenting Panel members are in a privileged position to be advocates for Durham’s fostering service.


Councillor Jewell commented on the professionalism of the marketing strategy, however, he suggested that it may be that a softer marketing strategy may appeal to community groups.  The Business Partner agreed that there is a balance to be achieved, and, advised that they are currently trailing a geographical marketing campaign, and are also working with business partners to encourage staff who are at risk of redundancy, or who are near retirement age to consider the benefits of fostering.


One of the young people from the Children in Care Council enquired whether there had been input from the young people into the marketing campaign.  The Head of Children’s Social Care responded that representatives from Investing in Children have been involved in the training of foster carers but advised that consideration will be giving to involving them in the marketing campaign work to ensure their voices are reflected from the outset.




That the report be noted.



Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714