To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to improve fostering following the digital discovery phases undertaken by the Department for Education.
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the evidence given by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families to the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee on 14 May 2019, what progress they have made towards the creation of a combined national adoption and fostering register.
In 2019, we conducted 2 digital discovery phases to better understand the problems experienced by children, foster carers, adopters and prospective adopters, social workers, placement officers and others in the fostering system, as identified in the 2017 independent review and Education Select Committee enquiry.
Through this work we have conducted some initial testing of possible digital approaches that could increase the flow of information between local data systems as well as improving the quality and granularity of the data. The aim is to ensure that children will have a better understanding of their care journey, that carers have higher-quality information about the children they are caring for, and to explore how a national digital approach could support improved matching of children to carers.
The initial testing phase of potential approaches was completed in January 2020. Further testing is now needed to establish a preferred solution, or combination of solutions, to enable the right people to have access to the right information when they need to, in order to make the best decisions about placements for children. We have therefore allocated further funding for this work in the 2020/21 financial year. Given the potential benefits of a digital system for children and young people, we are committed to continuing to work with stakeholders to explore options and recommence active testing once social distancing restrictions have eased.