Coram partners with Social Care Network to launch Fostering Insight, a new approach to supporting agencies to improve outcomes for children in foster care

Published: Wednesday 14th February 2018

Coram-i consultancy service and specialist software systems provider Social Care Network are bringing together their expertise in practice analysis, evaluation and secure and accessible data to help commissioners and providers in England improve the experience of care for looked after children and their foster carers.

Fostering Insight is a subscription service which offers a range of tailored support to member agencies as part of a community of practice and access to a secure single national register of carers and of children.

Fostering Insight will offer members free of charge use of the CHARMS Live Search portal used throughout the social care sector, enabling local authority commissioners and foster care providers to share with each other their most up to date vacancies, children requiring care and exchange information/files through a single secure portal. With over 80% of foster carers approved by IFAs and an increasing proportion of local authority approved carers already stored in CHARMS, the Live Search is fast becoming a secure, national register of approved foster carers that is free to LAs and IFAs.

Nearly 100 local authority partners are already using this tool, including Redbridge where it has enabled them to "see" all of their children placed with independent agencies and view progress and outcomes. They can also see compliance information such as length of placements for each agency, carer approvals and de-registrations, staff turn-over and whether each new staff member has the required two references.

Kevin Yong, Managing Director of Coram-i, said:

The message from the recently published Fostering Stocktake is clear. We as a professional group and a community need to ensure that our children in foster placements, who comprise the majority in state care, have the right decisions at the right time made on their behalf with a view to achieving stable and committed family care, care which recognises the complexity of the relationships that they have and will go on to form.


The current fostering system supports so many of our children well – 83% of children have told us their lives have improved since coming into care1.   Fostering Insight is designed to help all parts of the sector to provide a system to a sufficient scale and to do even better for the future.

Working with Coram-i’s specialist analysts and practitioners, Fostering Insight will also:

  • enable mapping of where vacancies are, and where there are no vacancies to inform recruitment strategies and sufficiency planning of the whole fostering community;
  • help LAs to match children with families who can meet their needs, leading to greater placement stability and better outcomes for children
  • develop report formats and analytics to enable sector leaders and agencies, for the first time, to "see" the pattern and needs of children placed in the independent and voluntary sector and to view their own current situation;
  • provide support for agency status and compliance information without the need for the constant exchange of manually completed returns;
  • check, when a new enquiry is received, whether the prospective carer has applied anywhere else previously;
  • offer solutions such as a register of independent assessors and panel members so that providers can search and recruit when needed subject to their consent;
  • provide expertise in Ofsted readiness; by reviewing of policies and procedures, improving efficiency and decision making with a view to achieving the earliest ‘permanence’ for a child.

Fostering Insight’s support can be tailored to provide other services including:

  • Access to ‘Activity Days for Fostering’ and ‘Step Down from residential care’ to address the needs of harder to place children
  • CoramBAAF membership services including agency advice line and training
  • CoramBAAF Form F (and Scottish and Welsh equivalents) and tailored training and advice to support practice
  • Access to a portfolio of updated policies and procedures and Coram-i development, improvement and compliance support to agencies.

Frank Ward, Fostering Services Manager said: “Coram-i has been working with Manchester Fostering service since May 2017. The working partnership between our two organisations has had a positive and influential impact on the quality of our fostering service delivery and outcomes for children and young people. Managers and staff teams have embraced the working partnership and adapting to improved systems and procedures which are contributing to increased efficiency and effectiveness in the overall provision of service to children families and foster carers.  We look forward to continuing to build upon this partnership and creating a long lasting legacy of high standards.”

Richard Harris, Projects Manager at Diverse Care said: “We've been a customer of Charms for nearly 10 years now and over that time we've felt very comfortable in the knowledge that our most sensitive information is stored by people who really understand our needs.  Whenever I contact Social Care Network I always know that I will speak to someone  who not only has in-depth knowledge of their products but is also friendly and approachable.”

Jim Moores, Managing Director at Social Care Network said: “CHARMS is now the most widely used system by the fostering community and assists agencies to keep high quality records but agencies need more holistic support to advance children’s outcomes. Fostering Insight will, for the first time, pull together systems and specialist support for the whole community."

Useful links

Find out more about Coram-i

1: Our Lives Our Care Looked After Children on their well-being Coram Voice and University of Bristol 2017

2: There are 72,670 children in state care in England [i]. The majority (53,430) are supported in foster care.

3: Private and voluntary providers account for a third (17,850) of these foster placements

4: One in 30 children will enter care at some point in their childhood. Children who return home following care have a 20% chance of returning to care [ii]

5: Foster care protects the education of children in care, with other key factors being the number of school absences, the timing and number of care placements or school moves, and the type of school attended. Children do well at school when they feel safe and secure.[iii]