Foster service is ‘doing well’

HARTLEPOOL is “performing well” when it comes to adoption and foster services.

That is according to Hartlepool Borough Council’s annual report into both service areas.

It comes as the Government prepares to unveil score cards for each local authority to measure how quickly they place children for adoption.

The annual reports were discussed at a meeting of the children’s services portfolio.

Senior officers have praised the service but said staff were conscious of further raising the profile.

The score card results are expected to be released this week but officers say the local authority is meeting Government thresholds and are judged to be “performing well”.

Those councils with poor score cards are expected to be named and shamed.

Officers say there has been an increase in children coming through the adoption system but the authority is recruiting adopters and children are not having to wait long for a placement.

The aim of the adoption service is to recruit, train and support adopters to provide high quality placements for children in Hartlepool.

Officers say there has been 12 new approved adopters over the past twelve months and over the course of the last year there were 17 children matched with 14 sets of adopters.

As it stands there are four children waiting for placements.

In November, Hartlepool was named third in a national table for its swift adoption process.

Over the three-year period covering 2008-2010, Hartlepool Council managed to place 95 per cent of its children in care with an adoptive family within 12 months.

The average timescale from across the country is two years and seven months to complete the process from the moment a child is deemed suitable for adoption, to the point where they are placed with a family

Sally Robinson, assistant director of child and adult services, said: “The annual report reflects a real success story for the service.

“We have seen adopters coming through and children being placed successfully.

“We have seen a net increase in foster carers year on year but we still need more particularly for siblings groups and older young people.

“Nevertheless, we are a good performing service and it is testament to the hard work and commitment of the staff.”

The council’s fostering team aims to provide safe and secure family placements for children looked after by the council.

As of March 31, this year, there were 181 looked after children in town, compared with 168 the year before.

Officers say the figures are very much in line with the national trend.

The fostering team, which includes five social workers, recruit, assess, train and support foster carers in town and the service currently has 92 approved foster carers.

During the 2011-12 financial year there were 146 children in placement.

The annual report said: “The fostering service has in extremely challenging times continued to retain and recruit carers and has been successful in providing high quality in house placements for the vast majority of children looked after by Hartlepool Borough Council.”

For more information about the adoption and fostering service call the council on (01429) 266522.