I feel that the aforementioned regulation is not assisting in the protection of vulnerable children in addiotion to it being an uneccessary expense for local authorities especially given the financial constraints imposed on their budgets.
Given the poor economic climate for Local authorities coupled with the vested interest in the Independent Review Mechanism run by BAAF to encourage foster carers to seek independent determination in regards to their fostering status, it is my professional view that this independent mechanism introduced in april 2009 should be either scraped or fundamentally overhauled.
It will cost local authorities £2227 for each case to be heard and inevitably more and more foster carers will seek this paticular avenue when they have a dispute about their fostering registration with their approving agency. This chosen opportunity is determined primarily by 2 factors, one being the local authority foots the costs and secondly the IRM are on the whole not upholding Agency Decision Makers professional views particularly in relation to deregistering foster carers. BAAF clearly have a vested interest in not siding with local authority decisions, as a consequence of this foster carers would chose not to use them and therefore BAAFs funding would be significantly affected in this area.
If a local authortiy has to attend 13 IRM panels In a year which is clearly possible for some larger local authorites this overall cost could have alternatively paid the salary of an experienced social worker for a year. The £2227 is only part of the cost for local authorities as they have to send 2 members of staff representing the agency on the day of the panel which is unlikely to be a local venue for most local authorities.
I do not feel the IRM panels remit is one of prioritising the welfare and safety of children as it is clear to me they have more interest in maintaining the status of the foster carer. Please request the statistics from the IRM now that it has been in existence for over 12 months you will probably be startled by the the percentage of their decisions which are contrary to the local authority who have assessed, supported, and monitored foster carers for some considerable time and therefore are in a positon to justify why some carers need to be deregistered.
Please inform me how in todays social care environment you can deregister a foster carer, I came into the social work profession to protect children from dangerous birth families and sadly from a minority of foster carers too. However this aforementioned regulation has made it difficult to eradicate carers who are likely to provide an unsuitable environment for disadvataged children to reside in.
I am a concerned experienced social worker who is seriously considering a change in my employment as this is just a further example of decisions being taken out of the hands of social workers and has some similarity with the introduction of the Public Law Outline (taking decisions away from social care professionals, please note that like all professions the majority of its workforce are competent and the child care profession is no different.
As most politicians are concerned about local authority spending please justify how this resource should remain an option when far more significant services are having to be cut back and/or shelved.
I appreciate the opportunity to voice my concerns and frustrations on a subject I am quite passionate about.