Ofsted has launched a consultation on its proposals for inspection of adoption and fostering services. The proposals focus on the experiences of and outcomes for children.
The proposed changes reflect the new national minimum standards and statutory guidance introduced by the government in April 2011. Ofsted said inspection will continue to make sure that adoption and fostering agencies comply with regulatory requirements but it will have an increased focus on the quality of services and the difference these make to children's lives in supporting them to grow up in secure and loving families.
Although broadly welcoming the consultation, the Fostering Network says it is concerned about proposals to reduce the frequency of inspection.
Raina Sheridan, deputy chief executive of the Fostering Network, said: "We're pleased that Ofsted is consulting on the inspection process, and look forward to seeing how any changes will actually improve outcomes for children in care. We are particularly pleased that there is a proposal to increase focus on inspectors listening to children and foster carers, and we want their ideas and views to be reflected in inspection reports.
"However, we are concerned that Ofsted is proposing to reduce the frequency of inspections. Under current arrangements, it is possible for there to be a gap of almost six years between inspections which is already too long. Inspections can be a vital means of safeguarding children.
"Fostering services should be working to the highest standards to ensure they are providing a consistently good service to looked-after children, who deserve the highest quality care to improve their day-to-day lives and give them the chance of a better future. Rigorous and effective inspection is crucial to ensure that this is always the case."
To take part in the consultation, visit the Ofsted website.