The Ofsted Framework for Independent Fostering Services asserts that Looked After children should be supported, ‘in care, to live and thrive in safe and stable placements, in which they develop safe and secure relationships’.
The Ofsted Framework for Inspecting Children Homes (2015:31), related to promoting safe and stable placements, states ‘where young people have left the home since the last inspection, inspectors must focus on the reasons the young person has left (well-planned and facilitated move or placement breakdown) and the contribution the manager, keyworkers and staff have made to the plans for their future’
The Who Cares Trust highlight, related to promoting safe and stable placements, ‘The Government’s Care Matters agenda identifies stable relationships as one of the key factors in ensuring good outcomes for children in care. But there is an unacceptable amount of movement in care for a lot of children, who often don’t get the chance to form stable relationships with carers or social workers’.
The Care Inquiry (2013: 3.18), in terms of promoting safe and stable placements, claims that ‘High-quality relationships matter more than anything else for children in or on the edge of care, and for the adults in their lives’.
Thus, when considering promoting safe and stable placements, breakdowns to family placements can sometimes badly affect children and contribute to their emotional disturbance. Placement breakdown is defined as the placement not lasting as long as planned. Much of the key findings from studies over the past ten years have shown:
- Frequent moves can badly affect children.
- Breakdowns, or unplanned moves, are much less likely in younger children in comparison, ‘teenage’ placements. Some factors appear to cause frequent placment moves- they include:
- a change of social worker
- Over-optimistic expectations
- Placement breakdown, particularly for teenagers
- The child’s level of emotional disturbance and motivation to remain in the placement also appears to be a key factor.
Research also indicates that foster carers often feel like giving up altogether during difficult times. Therefore, assessment around foster carer/s ability to provide durability and commitment to promoting safe and stable placements should continually ensure that carers’ and residential care support worker’s own attachment, sensitivity and motivation are suited towards promoting stable placements for children.
In terms of placement stability, the Department of Education information shows:
- 89% of all looked after children had up to two placements in the year ending 31 March 2012.
- 10 year olds were most likely to have a single placement
- Promoting stable placements for children in care
- Support should be part of all care plans to ensure the best outcomes for children and to prevent carer strain and placement breakdown (Boddy, 2013).
Overall, actively promoting practice that promotes triangulated assessment of foster carers, including reviews, contributes to service management evidence about the quality of foster care provided. On top of this, building very strong policies and procedures based on the legislative research as well as practice standards whilst working in line with the relevant Ofsted inspection framework, will contribute to quality fostering service and residential child care provisions.
Thus, policies, legislation, national standards, Ofsted framework for services and organisation procedures are, of course, of immense importance and serve as a means of promoting stable placements. They promote robust practice and consistent implementation of these policies, standards and procedures contribute to keeping children and young people safe. Leadership and management within fostering and residential services therefore plays a key role when promoting stable placements for looked after children. Thus, Ofsted 2015: states that Leaders and managers actively and regularly monitor the quality of care provided and use learning from practice and feedback to improve the experiences and care of children and young people.