Further concerns raised over Norfolk County Council foster carer inquiry

Norman Lamb. Pic: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Norman Lamb. Pic: Ben Birchall/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Further concerns have been raised over a review set up to examine Norfolk County Council's treatment of foster carers.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb has questioned some aspects of the review, with a number of carers de-registered by the authority yet to give evidence. Council bosses say progress is being made to address the issues.

The council commissioned the review, led by former Middlesbrough Council chief executive Ian Parker, in March last year to investigate historical complaints related to 'the alleged unfair treatment of foster carers'.

But among those yet to give evidence is a carer who was de-registered after a social work team manager - Peter Barron - recommended a child be removed from her, making statements which appeared not to be backed by evidence. He was dismissed after an investigation and disciplinary hearing.

In an email seen by the EDP, when the Parker review was being set up, former children's services director Sheila Lock suggested the review should 'offer a small window' for complaints triggered by the outcome of the case involving Mr Barron.

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Mr Lamb previously met council officers because of his concerns some foster carers had not been contacted to give evidence, and that the review had not engaged with the Norfolk Foster Care Association (NFCA).

While Mr Lamb welcomed moves to resolve those issues, he has written to Michael Rosen, director of children's services, to express concern more foster carers have not yet felt able to come forward.

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Mr Lamb said: 'Everyone has to have the confidence that it is entirely independent or people will not have any confidence in its outcome. We must stay committed to a process which rebuilds trust and that requires the county council to embrace that kind of process.'

Mr Parker said he had a 'very constructive' meeting with Mr Lamb, Mr Rosen and representatives of NFCA before Christmas and said a number of people had been contacted and agreed to the panel reviewing their cases.

He added: 'I have also agreed to meet with NFCA again to listen to their concerns. I am concerned at suggestions people consider that they have not been invited to take part in the review as it was made clear in the publicity when the review was launched that the panel wished to hear from any foster carers who considered that they had not been treated fairly. This is an issue that I will follow up with NFCA.

'I am very grateful for the input from Norman Lamb in helping move this review forward.'

Do you have a story about a local council? Call reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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