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  • Writer's pictureSarah Thomas

Why collaboration matters when it comes to foster carer recruitment

Sarah Thomas, Chief Executive of The Fostering Network, argues that the collaboration between local authorities is powerful in recruiting and retaining foster carers, as demonstrated by initiatives like Foster Wales and the ‘Any of Us’ video campaign. A version of this post was originally published in the Public Sector Executive.

The powerful ‘Any of Us’ video campaign launched in October has shown us the impact collaboration can have. A total of 80 councils came together to produce a short film aiming to raise awareness that anyone can foster a child if they have the capacity to provide care.  

The video is underpinned by the urgent need for more foster carers across the UK. Foster carer numbers are continuing to decline against a backdrop of record numbers of children in need. There’s no easy fix, but the Any of Us video has shown the willingness local authorities have to work together to achieve great things.

This willingness to collaborate has a role to play when it comes to improving retention and recruitment of foster carers across the country, something I’ve seen first-hand during my career. As a social worker for 20 years, I’ve spent much of my career focusing on refining recruitment practices in local authority fostering.

Joining the third sector highlighted to me the enormous opportunities for local authority collaboration that were being missed every day, and how difficult it was to prioritise this with the whole host of pressures facing services at the time. The creation of Foster Wales in 2021 – a collaboration of the 22 local authorities in Wales – is an example of how local authority collaboration is helping to solve this issue.

I was fortunate to be appointed to lead the work of the National Fostering Framework (NFF) in Wales in 2019. Having been involved in the work for some years prior, I took over at a critical time, building up to the launch of Foster Wales in July 2021.

Foster Wales is an example of the power of collaborative practice. It has built a powerful brand, created a community, and established new relationships, making it much easier to agree a united approach and to share learning across fostering services in Wales.

There are so many fantastic examples of what can be achieved through collaboration in foster care so I would encourage all local authorities to work together at every opportunity. If we want to transform the sector, we need to focus on relationships, responsivity and shared knowledge.

Local authorities don’t have endless budgets, but they do have the power to collaborate together to make change happen.

Read about MV’s work on the Fostering Recruitment and Retention Programme here.

Read more about MV's work in children's services here.


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