FOSTERING services in St Helens are set for a restructure.

A delegated decision notice on St Helens Council’s website says the current structure of the fostering service is “not effective” in providing independent review or in enabling sufficient recruitment of foster carers.

It says this leads to the placement of looked after children outside of “in house” foster care provision.

A delegated decision has been taken by the council to seek approval of the proposed amendments to the fostering service structure, including the need for additional resource in key posts.

The decision comes following a restructure of children’s social care, which was implemented in May 2017.

The restructure focused primarily on the child’s journey through children’s social care and focused on frontline social work teams.

The decision notice said: “The fostering service was not included in the restructure at this time and it was agreed that this section would undertake a separate review once the permanence service was established.

“As the initial restructure has now been operational for a 12-month period, there is a need to revisit the structure of the fostering service.”

Currently the service supports 155 foster carers, who offer both short-term and longer-term care for looked after children.

“As with the wider sector, there are significant challenges facing local authorities in recruiting and retaining suitably qualified foster carers, therefore having a service that is fit for purpose, modern, flexible and responsive is vital if the department is to maintain this provision,” the notice said.

“With the growth of the independent fostering agencies, there is a need to ensure that the service has capacity to recruit, assess, train, support and supervise the carers for some of the most vulnerable children in the borough.”