Securing the best start in life for our children and young people
Increasing the recruitment and retention of foster carers
Barnsley Council, Doncaster Council
To improve the recruitment and retention of foster carers, Barnsley Council used one of its area councils to access their community knowledge to increase foster carer recruitment. Following a launch event the Fostering Team attended suggested events in the area, materials were distributed throughout the area and an article appeared in the community magazine with the help of the area team. Existing foster carers acted as Fostering Champions and attended events to speak about their experiences. It resulted in a 75% increase in enquires about fostering from the year before. This campaign is being rolled out across the borough within each ward area.
In 2015, Doncaster Council was one of eight fostering providers to pilot the Mockingbird Family Model, an alternative method of delivering fostering with the potential to improve placement stability for children and young people in care and to improve support for, and retention of foster carers. It uses the constellation model, which is where 6 to 10 fostering families live in close proximity to a dedicated hub home of specially recruited and trained carers offering tailored support. Following the successful pilot, additional investment enabled an expansion of the model to five hubs by 2018. Analysis of the model has demonstrated children experience more stable placements when looked after within the hubs and increased foster carer retention. The pilot is estimated to have reduced future costs by over £500,000, and there are now plans to extend the number of Hubs.