NAFP launches legal challenge on councils’ fostering services

The NAFP claims that these councils are failing their duty under the Children ACT 1989 that says councils should place looked after children in the most appropriate placement available. According to the NAFP, these councils have failed to adopt a ‘level playing field’, meaning that they are prioritising in house fostering services over those of other independent and and voluntary providers.

The Administrative Court has granted permission for the claim to proceed to a substantive hearing.

Harvey Gallagher, Chief Executive of NAFP, said: “We want to ensure that every child in care gets not just a good placement, but the placement that is right for them, the placement that can best meet their needs more than any other. Our concern is that the current placement finding processes used by many local authorities, including the Defendants, is unlawful and means that children will be missing out and may not get the very best home we can offer them. This has to change so that we are able to do better for children in care and give them the best possible opportunity to thrive in a loving home.”

In response to the legal challenge, the Local Government Association has said it will ‘robustly contest this case’. Cllr David Simmonds, an LGA spokesman, said: "This Judicial Review is nothing to do with the interests of children but is entirely about the financial interests of these providers, who often charge taxpayers double or more what councils pay for in-house provision.

"This review does a disservice to the many independent providers who work closely alongside councils to provide placements for children when in-house options may not be suitable. However, where social workers know that a council foster carer will be able to provide a stable, loving environment for a child, this legal action will only result in unnecessary delays in making that placement. This will be costly to the taxpayer and, most importantly, costly to the child.”

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