The government has laid down plans to recruit paid full-time foster carers to avoid sending children into care off-island as part of a proposed £12million investment into services for ‘looked after children’.
Described as “intensive fostering”, the scheme has been outlined in detail in an appendix to the Government Plan.
Such plans for “more challenging children and young people” were hinted at earlier this year on the heels of a critical report by the Jersey Care Commission following an inspection of Children's Services by Ofsted.
Published in September 2018, the report found that, despite it being seen as a 'last resort' option, as many as a quarter of children in care had to be split from their families and friends and sent away from Jersey because there weren’t enough appropriate placements in Jersey.
Pictured: As much as a quarter of all children in care were sent away from Jersey in the past.
This, they found, was mainly due to a lack of appropriate facilities and fostering placements - despite numerous campaigns by the Fostering and Adoption team.
According to the Government Plan, the proposed "intensive fostering" scheme will provide “family-based placements for children as a direct alternative to being placed off island.” Only one child will be placed in a family at a time as part of a scheme, but, where possible, siblings will stay together.
At least one carer in each family will have to be available on a full-time to support the children, meaning they will not be able to be working as most foster carers currently are. The government will therefore pay them a salary, based on local average earnings.
Carers’ salaries will be taken from a £12million funding pot being pledged to ‘Looked After Children’ between 2020 and 2023.
Pictured: At least one carer will have to be available full-time to look after the child.
The money will also fund allowances for the children, as well as staff to run the service and support the carers - including an on-call arrangement.
Finally, part of the funds will help cover staff who can provide a “wrap-around” service for the child such as therapists, psychologists and mental health or CAMHS workers.
Research for the service, which the government said would offer “local fostering placements for Jersey’s more challenging children and young people”, was commissioned in 2018, a spokesperson told Express earlier this year.
They said foster carers recruited to the service would receive specialised training and support to be able to work "therapeutically" with the children in their care.
The Government also plans to develop bespoke intensive care for those with significant needs such as difficulties with their emotional and mental health, relationship difficulties, poor educational progress or communication issues.
An entitlement of £2,000 per child to cover therapeutic support for children in care who need additional individual specialist therapy as part of a restorative or reparative package of support is also being put forward.
States Members will decide whether to approve the plans in November when they vote on the whole Government Plan.
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