Ofsted has called on local authorities, local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs) and the Department for Education to work together to better understand the extent of private fostering arrangements across the country.
In a report published today, Ofsted has recommended a number of ways to improve the way information about private fostering is collected and managed.
The report looks at evidence from inspections of 12 local authority private fostering arrangements between 2011 and 2013. Of these 12, only a third were judged to be ‘good’.
The reports suggests that the extent of private fostering, including of vulnerable children such as disabled young people, is still largely ‘unknown’ in many areas. As well as variation in the number of notifications by region, national figures are swamped by large numbers of international children attending temporary educational placements at language colleges.
Although campaigns can help to raise awareness among professionals, language colleges and other organisations, there is little evidence of their impact on self-referrals by the public.
Local authorities report annually on their private fostering arrangements to their LSCB, but Ofsted’s report finds that these often fail to address important strategic issues or form an effective means of self-evaluation.
Today, Ofsted recommends that the system increases assurance, as well as its capacity for self-improvement, by:
- improving data collection and use
- improving arrangements for the self-evaluation of private fostering services
- better targeting of ‘raising awareness work’ by local authorities