30 October 2017

 A Tale of Two Moralities 

It was no EastEnders, but it was pretty compelling, and just as train-wreck / car-crashy!


The brightest and best of our sector, apparently, called to bear witness to the state of services to our fostered children – CEOs, COOs, Presidents, Professors, Directors... folk representing the way things are, and the way things should be.


They were chatting to Government bods – those who are rightly scrutinising the way things are for our fostered children, and the way things should be...




I'm gonna pick one thread about which those giving evidence were all unanimous... ‘private companies who provide fostering services for profit are bad’.


There was talk of money ‘leaking out of the system’ when it goes to private for-profit companies, with no mention of the size of salary for the top people in the not-for-profit, charity or local authority models… when you are taking 6 figure salaries from ‘the system’ of public funding, perhaps you don’t need dividends from profit?


There was talk of not-for-profit organisations being able to focus on services rather than shareholders, not having to worry about occupancy rates… one wonders if perhaps their foster families, who earn their living from their occupancy rates might feel differently. And if the children allegedly waiting for a family because of a notional ‘National Shortage’ of families might also feel differently. Everyone serving fostering families and fostered children needs to be working towards high occupancy rates, whether there are shareholders or not.


And there was much talk about the need for capacity, rather than for quality. Where there was mention of local authority in-house innovation and improvement – not that innovative - it was also mentioned to be more expensive...hmmm.

The myth of ‘independent is more expensive than local authority’ is utterly blown and has no place in any modern day discussion of fostering services https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Children-in-care-summary.pdf (p.9; top para).


In fact circular, contradictory argument, with little recognisable basis in reality, was plentiful.


So, just for a minute, let’s ditch the political rhetoric about how to do it, and look at the facts about how well it is done:


  • 80% of local authorities are deemed inadequate by Ofsted,

  • There are only 22 independent companies deemed to be Outstanding, whether for-profit, not-for-profit or charity. (https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/)


Q: Wanna guess how many of those 22 Outstanding organisations are constituted ‘for-profit’??

A: 82%


There can be only one conclusion about this:


Are we to deny our children outstanding life chances, because of our own moral and conflicted squeamishness about how to use the money?


Surely we must learn from each other?


I refer the cherished reader to previous blogs, about how the values which underpin our Outstanding are decades old, replicable by anyone with an open mind, and nothing to do with spending or taking more public money.


One other ickle, teeny-tiny point...the honourable Professor of Social Work, previously Director of Social Services, assured the committee of MPs that when the first private companies were started, 15-20 years ago, they were set up by a few social workers, embedded locally in their communities, providing local services to local families.


Wrong, wrong and wrong.


The first private companies appeared 30 years ago, based on a project from 40 years ago; were set up by foster parents; and provided services to anyone around the country whose children needed them. 


Too much of what was said in this meeting was stuck in the 90s….including the notion of how to use technology – reference to what a National Fostering Database might be able to handle made it sound like it would have the capacity of a Rolodex.


OK – that kinda turned out to be three points in all...



Image credit: Pexels



written by

Jane Keenan

Recruitment Manager


Last modified on Monday, 30 October 2017 14:46

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