Evaluation of specialist foster care placement project (2020)

As part of the Department for Education Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme, we carried out an evaluation of a project which aimed to use specialist placements and co-produced care planning to allow disabled young people from Hertfordshire and Staffordshire to transfer to local foster care from out of area placements.

Executive summary

Credo Care, a fostering agency, led a second round project as part of the Department for Education’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme. It aimed to achieve stepdown from residential care into specialist foster care for disabled children in England aged up to 15 years old. The project began in August 2017 and involved Credo Care working collaboratively with 2 local authorities, Hertfordshire County Council and Staffordshire County Council. Coram was appointed by the Department for Education as the evaluator for this project.

Due to the slow progress of the project, the decision was taken to end funding for the project in September 2018. Few children had been identified for step-down and progress in recruiting and approving specialist foster carers was slow. As such, step-down from residential to foster care of disabled children was not fully tested, and we cannot conclude on its effectiveness as a model. Instead, this report draws out the lessons from the project, based on interview with staff from the local authorities and a chronology of local authority engagement.