Standards are slipping at Angus Council’s fostering service with a lack of continuity blamed on the number of carers leaving the service.
A downgrading of the service is outlined in a report published by the Care Inspectorate.
For the past 10 years the fostering team has consistently scored 5 (very good) in its Care Inspectorate report; during the last year it scored 4 (good).
Angus Council Fostering Service provides a fostering and family placement service for children and young people from birth to 18 years.
It recruits and supports carer families to provide a range of fostering placements to children including, permanent, long term and respite.
Due to a shortfall in carers, when children have initially been accommodated, they have been placed in a “respite” placement.
One critic, who did not wish to be named, commented: “This can mean the child has multiple placements, so there is no consistency, security and basically the child is being passed from pillar to post.”
She claimed one child had three different foster carers in less than a week.
The report found, during 2017, the service recruited eight new fostering families, a net increase of three fostering households.
Demand for the service remains high and, as at December 31 2017, 66 foster carers were looking after 83 children and young people.
The report graded both the quality of care and support and quality of staffing “good” as opposed to the previous “very good.”
It added: “Children need stability and consistency from care givers.
“We found children in need of adoption had not experienced significant moves in care, however they had experienced a number of respite care situations on initial accommodation.
“Evidence suggested this was due to a lack of available carers.
“Despite this, we found the service was working hard to recruit carers and had a comprehensive recruitment strategy.
“The service was aware of this and was working hard to ensure that, on initial accommodation, babies and very young children reached their permanent homes with as little moves as possible.”
A spokesman for Angus Council said: “Since May 17, 19 fostering households have been approved as foster carers and 19 fostering households have been de-registered for various reasons.
“On occasions, children have to be placed on a respite basis so they are accommodated before a longer term placement is identified.
“This is something the service is working to address as we try to minimise the disruption caused to children.
“At present there is a recognised national shortage of foster carers.
“Here in Angus, we have an ongoing proactive recruitment campaign to try and ensure we continue to best meet the needs of Angus children.”
Dundee-based Fosterplus has also rolled out a campaign highlighting the urgent need for foster families across the country.