Ofsted has published a
report looking at what contributes to good matching decisions for children in
foster care in England. A research project carried out in the summer of 2019
found that the shortage of foster carers is one of the most significant
challenges in making successful matches for children, particularly when finding
homes for groups of brothers and sisters, disabled children and teenagers.
The report sets out the elements of a good match, including:
- Making sure children feel ‘heard’: children told researchers that they don’t always feel involved in decisions and plans about where they are going to live. When they can say what they want, they don’t always believe that their views make a difference to what happens.
- Good information sharing: giving children the information they need about potential carers is vital, as is making sure that foster carers know everything that they need to know about a child. The best referrals give full and balanced descriptions of children and represent their wishes and feelings.
- Involving birth families and previous carers: professionals recognised that more could be done to involve birth families in matching decisions. Similarly, more could be done to involve previous foster carers and to support their lasting relationships with children.
- Recognising foster carers as professionals: foster carers who felt empowered and confident in their role as part of a wider professional team are typically more likely to ask for additional information about children than carers who feel undervalued or less confident.