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Placement Disruption: A review of cases of children in care in England and Wales where stable placements are threatened for financial reasons

1.1. The Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers (NAFP) is the not for profit organisation that campaigns for independent and voluntary sector fostering providers (IFPs), and the children they care for.

1.2. The NAFP mission statement states that NAFP “seeks to be the voice of the independent and voluntary fostering sector for children and young people and to promote high standards of professional and business practice within the membership.” Central to this statement is of course the aim of providing and sustaining
high quality placements for children which meet their needs and enable them to grow up in a permanent placement with caring, affectionate, trustworthy carers.

1.3. Over the last several years, members of NAFP have reported cases where, on the face of it, stable placements for children are being disrupted (or that disruption is threatened) for reasons which are not to do with promoting the welfare of the child but appear to be to do with cost saving.

1.4. We have been in contact with the Offices of the Children’s Commissioners for England and for Wales. We have been advised by these offices that, while they are not currently able to share case material with us, cases of this nature are well known to their advice services and form a significant part of their caseloads.

1.5. Members of NAFP have also reported that Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) were not always challenging local authorities on these kinds of disruptions, and were not always robustly defending the interests of children in care.

1.6. These reports were anecdotal in nature. No attempt had been made to systemically consider and draw these reports together to see if there is a pattern, and to propose measures which may remedy the difficulties. This report seeks to fill this gap.

1.7. In June 2014, NAFP launched a survey to examine the issue. The request for evidence and the associated questionnaire are attached at Appendix 1. This report emerges from the results of this exercise. There were only a relatively small number of returns, but we believe they show some worrying practice spread cross a wide geographical area and reflect a larger number of concerns that we have heard anecdotally.