Foster service report found Neath Port Talbot children could have been put at risk
A LACK of criminal checks on foster families could have put Neath and Port Talbot children at risk.
Inspectors found there was no record of Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) checks being carried out on a number of cases handled by the authority.
Neath Port Talbot was issued with a non-compliance notice requiring it to take action.
In response, the council said it had done everything required of it and was confident the systems in place ensured safe arrangements for children in the authority’s care.
The Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) carried out the inspection of Neath Port Talbot Council’s fostering service.
On the positive side, it found levels of staff training had improved since the previous inspection, while staff morale had also improved.
The inspectors’ report explained why the non-compliance notice had been issued.
“This is because not all files were able to evidence CRB checks having been carried out on two household/family members with significant contact with foster children.
“Another file for a family and friend foster carer evidenced a CRB being received five months after the child being placed.
“The impact for foster children is that they could potentially be placed at risk from having contact with individuals who do not have clear, enhanced CRB checks in place.”
The report also set out what action had to be taken.
“All files must evidence the required checks being carried out on foster carers and relevant household and family members.
“The service must confirm in writing to CSSIW that this is the case,” it said.
The report stated the matter was highlighted to service managers during the inspection for immediate action to be taken where necessary.
The council was given until January 31 this year to comply with the notice.
The council’s head of children and young people services, Andrew Jarrett, said: “We are pleased that the report highlighted that Neath Port Talbot delivers an effective fostering service through its team of staff involved in the recruitment assessment and support of carers.
“The report highlights that fostering service benefits from an ‘experienced, consisted and motivated’ team who work well together to deliver a service which both carers and children report they are happy with.
“The foster carers who participated in the inspection reported to the inspectors that they felt the service delivered reliable, good quality support which was right for their individual needs and that staff and carers had good relationships.
“The inspectors noted that the children who are in foster placements stated they felt safe and happy with their foster carers, and that there was evidence that children were included in family life and felt they had a positive experience.
“One area of compliance that was raised by the inspectors was the need to provide written evidence that the required checks for carers and relevant household members were being completed.
“The fostering service has addressed this compliance notice and has ensured that all checks that are undertaken are within time scale and that there is evidence that they have been completed.
“We are confident that the systems in place ensure safe arrangements for children in our care.”
Mr Jarrett said the fostering service was currently recruiting new foster carers who could offer a long-term commitment to children and help to keep brothers and sisters together.
“We welcome applications from anyone who feels they have the time and skills to become a foster carer,” he added.