I listened with great interest to Radio 4’s Today Programme yesterday morning, where the focus was on the Independent Fostering Sector.
I wondered how long it would take the ‘powers that be’ to wake up to the fact that most of the small, independent fostering agencies that were set up over the past twenty years are now in the ownership of just a few private equity companies.
Some of us have been bleating on about it for years, pointing out that if the trend continued, Local Authorities would be left with no choice but to pay high fees dictated by demand, for services which may have been curtailed to cut down on cost.
Many of those involved in ALL4U Fostering have been around in the independent sector since it started, and have watched these developments with interest – and some exasperation!
That’s why we thought of something completely different.
ALL4U Fostering is owned by a trust; it can’t be sold on, and of any surplus funds generated, 50% goes back into the fostering agency, to provide better services for children, better training etc. for staff and foster carers and better all round support, and the remaining 50% goes into a charity for young people leaving care.
In other words, the two beneficiaries of the trust that owns ALL4U Fostering are the agency itself and The Layberry Foundation, dedicated to supporting care leavers.
There are no individual share holders and never can be!
We think we are breaking new ground – and we believe that what we are trying to do shows a way forward that not only provides best use of Local Authority funding, but improves the lot of care leavers – who hopefully will experience consistent and supportive foster care, followed by a positive transition into independence.
Watch this space!
Marion Layberry, OBE
ALL4U Fostering Ltd.