Leeds Liberal Democrats are calling for a study on how the Council’s fostering service could be transformed into John Lewis-style employee owned company. It is hoped that by putting foster carers in charge, more could be recruited, and less children would be looked after in placements outside the city.
Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr Stewart Golton, will introduce an amendment calling for the study at the Council’s Annual Budget Meeting this week. He said:
“Leeds Liberal Democrats have been concerned for years that Children’s care homes have been closed without being replaced, and foster carer recruitment has not kept pace with the number of children the Council has responsibility for. It means that too many of our young people have been placed in private care placements outside the city, far from family. What’s more these arrangements are twice as expensive, which takes money away from other areas of Children’s Services.”
The proposal to look into an employee owned fostering company for the city was inspired by the successful conversion some years ago of Leeds City Council’s services for adults with learning difficulties into the Aspire social enterprise. The Liberal Democrats have made this proposal at successive Council Budget meetings, without being adopted. However, for most of that time, it was also accompanied by another proposal to invest in new childrens care homes, which the Council finally agreed to do in 2021, which allows it to be dropped as an amendment this time round.
“The Council has eventually accepted our argument on creating more residential accommodation within the city for kids that need it, and that should be welcomed as a realisation that continuing to send children to be looked after outside the city is unsustainable all round. Our proposal for the study into an employee owned company for the Fostering service is the logical next step in creating the capacity and resilience to keep as many of our young people safe, but closer to home, to the families we hope most will ultimately be able to return to.”