The Fostering Network has welcomed Ofsted’s new inspection framework for fostering services in England, which will be implemented from 1 April 2012 ahead of inspections beginning in June.
Published this week, the new framework has been developed following consultation with key stakeholders including the Fostering Network and its members, and will initially apply to all fostering services.
The aim of the new framework is ensure children experience fewer placements, that children and foster carers are well matched and supported, and that fostering services are doing all they can to achieve the best possible outcomes for each child.
Among the raft of changes fostering services will now be given just 10 days warning of an inspection, instead of the current six week notice. An online questionnaire that will be open for one month each year for foster carers and others to share their views is also being introduced.
Hazel Halle, director of the Fostering Network’s membership support team, said: “We welcome the new framework, which reflects many of the recommendations we made including the introduction of the ten day notice period.
"The new online questionnaire should give more foster carers the opportunity to have their say. However, foster carers and children in care must be fully involved so we are urging all inspectors to not just use the questionnaire but make sure they still meet with them face-to-face.”
In 2013 independent fostering providers will continue with this framework, while local authorities will be subject to a new integrated inspection framework. This will see fostering, adoption and residential care inspected together alongside other parts of children’s services.
Halle continued: “We believe the decision to introduce an integrated inspection framework that mirrors the journey of the child is an essential and important step forward. It reflects the spirit of the new regulations and should give a true picture of a child’s journey through the care system.”
Ofsted will be holding a series of regional events in March to explain the new framework and has written to fostering services to invite them to attend.