Foster-care commissioning in an age of austerity: The experiences and views of the independent provider sector in one English region

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Considerable knowledge exists about the commissioning of children's fostering and adoption placements from external agencies within a context of shared corporate parenting. However, the impact of governmental change in the UK from May 2010, and particularly that of austerity measures, has yet to be determined. This article explores the experiences of foster-care providers in one English region in the year following the government's first Spending Review. It refers to the findings of earlier foster-care commissioning research and considers these alongside some policy ideas put forward by influential figures sympathetic to the government. It also considers whether the research evidence of commissioning adoption services is reflected in the empirical evidence reported here and if this is prescient for foster-care. The findings of this study shed light on the initial effects of austerity measures on both local authority commissioners and independent fostering providers (IFPs). Whilst collaborative working relationships remain, the study highlights legal and procedural factors which may distort or threaten effective foster-care provision. It concludes that suggested changes to policy and practice, during the current Coalition government's term of office in the UK, are likely to have significant consequences both for local authorities and IFPs. © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Association of Social Workers. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1788-1804
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number7
Early online date13 Mar 2013
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


  • Foster-care commissioning
  • outsourcing fostering
  • shared corporate parenting

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