Ofsted recently published the results of its survey looking at the experiences of children living in children’s homes or with foster carers. West Midlands in Context highlights some of the key findings.
The experiences of children’s homes and foster carers
Every year Ofsted collects views about social care services through a survey of children’s homes, secure children’s homes, adoption services, fostering services and residential family centres, boarding schools, residential special schools and further education colleges. The responses form part of the information that help Ofsted decide when to inspect and what to focus their inspections on. There were over 37,000 questionnaire responses from children, learners, parents, staff, social workers and other professionals. Nearly 3,200 of these were from children who told Ofsted about their children’s home or foster carers, the analysis of these responses was published in a report earlier this month.
Setting out the context, the report notes that there are over 11.5 million children aged 17 and under in England. Approaching 73,000 of these are looked after children, nearly three quarters of whom live with foster carers and around a tenth in children’s homes.
The survey analysis focuses on four key messages from the children, namely:
Illuminated with relevant quotes from the children, Ofsted found some “small changes” from last year. For example, compared to last year, there was an increase in the number of children saying they had been helped to understand why they were in care. However, fewer children said they found out useful things about their children’s home or foster family before moving there. In 2017, children told Ofsted that staff or foster carers had helped them less often when they had been upset by other people than the year before, with almost 10% saying that staff or foster carers rarely helped them. Among its other findings, the report also notes that “children who live in children’s homes are still telling us they feel less safe than those living in foster homes”.
Ofsted - Children’s social care questionnaires 2017, April 2018