Concerns about whether Herefordshire’s foster care system is safe for children are not being listened to, it has been claimed.

At a meeting of Herefordshire Council’s children and young people scrutiny committee, independent councillor Jim Kenyon said he had been “inundated by foster carers that wanted to say something”.

One told him their concerns over the safety of children in the county’s foster care system “were not listened to or acted upon”.


“The same issues are repeated time and time again, to the detriment of the children,” the foster carer had told him – leaving the carer “demoralised and defeated”.

“It stinks of the Post Office scandal – where people at the top know what’s going on and are not doing anything about it,” Coun Kenyon said.

While foster carers had been invited to give their views directly to the scrutiny meeting, “they’ll feel that if they came here and spoke honestly, they may well not get placements – as has happened in the past, when they were seen as trouble”, Coun Kenyon said.


The council’s interim improvement director for children’s services Gail Hancock said that “rebuilding trust and confidence” between the council and its foster carers was “an ongoing process”, and that its fostering service “has an open, listening ear”.

Maggie Steel, a campaigner for better child protection in the county, asked the committee beforehand whether the panel which oversees fostering placements in the county would be informed if safeguarding concerns were raised over a particular carer.

An unattributed council response said that any such allegations “will be responded to in accordance with established procedures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children”.

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Ms Steel attempted to submit a follow-up question on how an individual should contact the panel if they believed the council was failing in its duty to provide the panel with such information.

But this was rejected by the council’s democratic services officer, as “a full and clear response has been already been provided”.

Ms Steel said afterwards she believed her question had been rebuffed at the behest of senior officers, as it “points the finger at possible serious safeguarding failures within children’s services which they know about”.

Her concerns arose from the case of one particular carer, about whom police and public concerns had not been relayed to the panel, and who was therefore free to continue fostering, she claimed.