To find out about how the coronavirus lockdown is affecting the foster care system, MacNaught Digital spoke to Lisa Witter the manager of Perpetual Fostering
Children and young adults under the care system are amongst the most vulnerable members of society. Yet many of us haven’t stopped to think about the impact COVID-19 is having on foster care.
Has the number of children needing foster care changed since before the pandemic?
Yes. We’re seeing a significant increase in the number of placement requests over the past month. We’re now dealing with over 1,000 placement requests, which is much higher than before. That’s a 25% increase since the previous month.
Why do you think this is?
There has been a huge increase in the number of children being removed under Powers of Police Protection orders, which are put in place to protect children who are classed as being at risk of significant harm. Over the last month, many children have also come into the care system as a result of domestic violence in their homes.
How are you dealing with the increase in applications?
We’ve put a number of steps in place to help us deal with the rise in placements during this time. We’ve been discussing fostering with those who are interested and completing the initial screening stage, but at this time we are putting the initial home visit on hold in line with social distancing rules. We are however, making sure to keep in touch with prospective foster carers until the visit can be carried out in the future.
Are social workers still going into homes?
At the moment, we’re only undertaking essential visits or those where concerns are arising. We’re continuing to liaise with local authority social workers surrounding this in order to ensure transparency and to make sure that regulations are adhered to.
How are you handling things differently?
As well as putting home visits on hold, we’re also using technology to the best of our advantage in order to complete supervisions, unannounced visits and chats with foster carers, children and young people via video links. This has proven to be extremely effective and we’ve decided to integrate these methods alongside our face to face contact to provide added value to the work we undertake in the future.
As well as helping us to communicate with those in the foster care system, virtual meetings have also been useful internally to allow us to complete team meetings, supervisions and appraisals for members of staff.
Has the coronavirus pandemic had a big impact on the foster care system?
Definitely. But every challenge brings about new and innovative solutions. And we’ll continue our mission to support and improve the lives of children and young people around the North West.