Since 2016, Coram has run eight Activity Days for Fostering in England, three of which were pilot events.
Activity Days for Fostering (AdFs) provide young people and foster carers the opportunity to find each other. AdFs enable prospective adopters and children to meet in a safe, fun environment, giving them the chance to explore whether they have a connection or ‘chemistry’, something that may be missed in the standard fostering matching process. AdFs are events delivered to local authorities, including event organising (including venue, catering and entertainment), briefing sessions (to social workers, foster carers, family finders, managers), a profiling workshop, management of referrals, consultation, feedback and evaluation. The Theory of Change is that where young people and carers play an active role in the matching, any placement is more likely to be sustained. Activity Days act as an addition to the existing range of matching and family finding practices, and are considered particularly appropriate for harder to place children, who may be: part of a sibling group, five years old or above, of a Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) background or with a disability or a complex health need.
Our evaluation covers AdFs which have taken place, not efforts to expand the service to continue during the pandemic, so our conclusions and recommendations are limited in scope.
- Many of the children who attended belong to groups that we would typically consider ‘hard to place’ and almost a third of the expressions of interest led to provisional matches. The social workers were enthusiastic about AdFs and had learned from them. However, it is difficult to make any further conclusions about the benefits of the activity days given the difficulties we experienced in obtaining data on children’s longer term outcomes and placements.