Community Family Care has won a three-year contract to run a groundbreaking youth services project for Bradford on Avon Town Council in Wiltshire.
The council has drawn up a new Youth Strategy and sought an organisation to deliver a new approach.
It was impressed with the presentation by the Community Family Care team and agreed that CFC would provide “a highly innovative, responsive and localised service” for Bradford on Avon and the surrounding villages.
The new service will also bring jobs to the area with the expected recruitment of several youth workers.
Community Family Care’s team will work with young people aged 10-18, and with people aged up to 25 if they have additional needs or have been in care.
It will deliver some ‘traditional’ services in addition to outreach work and more targeted work with young people. The not-for-profit organisation will also work closely with schools and other service providers, including delivering preventative work to address behaviours that may place young people at risk.
Councillors are keen that the service provides a platform for young people to have more of a say in decisions that affect them, and wants the service to provide opportunities for youth participation and citizenship initiatives.
Leader of the Council Dom Newton said: “We are very excited to be working with Community Family Care in delivering one of the first new Youth Services to be commissioned since 2010.
“The service has key elements – outreach and detached work, as well as youth club services – but it will really be for our young people to decide, with the new youth workers, what those new services really look like.
“We’re looking forward to seeing how those develop, and are hopeful that it will help a new generation of young people engage in their local community, and with an expectation and understanding of their right to have their voice heard in decisions, locally and nationally.”
Mark Kingston, Chief Executive of Community Family Care, based in Gloucestershire, said: “We’ve been operating in Wiltshire for more than 14 years and see our role as unleashing the potential of young people, enabling them to realise their ambitions and bring a rich seam of experience to their local community.
“We believe that sticking by children and young people is a vital ingredient in our belief in them and that investing in the community will bring long-term social and economic gains which are critical to the realising of ambitions and happiness.”
Notes for editors:
Community Family Care
Community Family Care is a trading name of Community Foster Care, which is a registered charity with 20 years’ experience of supporting children and families through fostering and edge of care services.
Established in 1998, Community Foster Care developed from neighbourhood projects and supported local families to foster; enabling young people to safely remain within their communities.
Today Community Foster Care operates across offices in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Lancashire, and Cumbria, providing high quality fostering services and, through its Community Family Care Team, it also offers a range of edge of care and early intervention support to children and families.
About Bradford on Avon’s Youth Strategy
The Youth Strategy document was adopted by the Town Council in late 2017, and covers both youth service provision in the town and area (part one) and improving opportunities for jobs and housing in the town (part two) for young people up to the age of 30.
This was based on a review of current demographic trends, which show a marked difference in the numbers of 20-30 years olds in the town, against other towns of similar size, and the social imbalance that can bring.
It is also predicated on the idea that providing young people with the opportunity to engage in their local community means that they will value the outputs far more, and that it embeds a habit of engagement in decision-making that will enhance political engagement of all types.
BOATC have assigned £40,000 funding for the Youth Strategy in year one, with a further £8,000 from the CWLPEC and around £6,000 from the Bradford on Avon Area Board. The contract is for three years lasting until July 2021, with a total contract value of just under £142,000 split over those three years.
A survey of carers from Community Foster Care has revealed high satisfaction rates in all areas.
Carers were asked their views on all aspects of fostering, including support, allowance rates, training, activities and relationships with staff and social workers.
In almost areas, the foster carers who responded rated Community Foster Care as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. Equally, levels of satisfaction were consistently around 80 per cent.
Chief Executive of Community Foster Care Mark Kingston thanked carers for taking part in the survey.
“It is imperative that we seek your feedback on a regular basis and that we learn from what you tell us,” he said.
“Whilst we strive for perfection we recognise that there’s always room to improve. We firmly believe that our charity will be better for it.
“It’s great that the overall satisfaction rates were so positive and there was little negativity. However, there were also some very constructive comments about how we can do a better job, in particular in terms of training and support groups.”
Asked how satisfied carers are with the frequency of supervision, 97% were satisfied or extremely satisfied. A further 78 per cent were satisfied with the support received.
Supervising social workers and placement support workers notched up 91% in the satisfaction ratings for understanding the needs of cared-for children. A reassuring 97% said they were satisfied or very satisfied that Community Foster Care listens to its carers.
When it came to the level of allowances, 83% of those who responded were satisfied or extremely satisfied.
Whilst the matching process of carer with children scored highly, 34% of those who responded said they’d like better quality information about children before their placement begins.
All Community Foster Care’s carers in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Lancashire and Cumbria were invited to take part in the survey. They could choose whether to remain anonymous.
The Foster Care Co-operative (FCC) has won a prestigious national co-operative award!
FCC were shortlisted for the Inspiring Co-operative of the Year Award, one of five presented by Co-operatives UK – an organisation that promotes, develops and unites member-owned businesses throughout the UK. They went on to win the award at the annual Co-op Congress Event in London on 23rd June.
Steve Field, FCC’s Director of Child Care, said: "We are delighted that the hard work, care and commitment from the foster carers, children and staff have been recognised through the award for most inspiring Co-op. It is a testament to their dedication in ensuring better outcomes for children in need of care whilst keeping values based on Integrity, Ethics, Quality and Co-operation."
The Foster Care Co-operative was founded in 1999 by an ex-Deputy Director of Social Services and foster carer. He wanted to go further than simply establishing a not-for-profit fostering agency – and so chose the model of multi-stakeholder and common ownership and registered the company as a co-operative. Since then, the model has proved hugely beneficial. Due to no involvement from distant shareholders or investors, FCC’s members on the ‘shop floor’ have always been given a clear voice within the organisation. This has made the organisation transparent and responsive to change – particularly at a policy level. It has also created a culture of greater democracy.
Simply put, The FCC has given its staff, carers and children the opportunity to contribute to the running of the organisation.
In 2016, FCC consulted with the children and young people in their care to help them redesign a children’s section of FCC’s website. Young people got to vote on the site name, and what they would like to see featured. The area, now called Kidz Zone, offers regular competitions, a chance to become an FCC ‘guest reporter’, to upload any artwork they have done – and to be able to reach FCC’s own Kidz Rep, if they need to talk to someone.
Foster carers are also given the opportunity to become involved in hiring decisions within the organisation – and often attend first rounds of interviews. They also attend foster carer recruitment events, bringing valuable experience, insight and advice to perspective applicants.
This involvement of all parties truly embodies the co-operative approach - making them transparent, ethical and above all child-centred from a management level to the very children they provide care for.
FCC remains the only not-for-profit fostering agency operating as a co-operative in the UK – making them truly unique. Any surplus income is reinvested to provide more training and support for their foster carers. The organisation has grown steadily and organically and now has teams situated throughout England and Wales - with offices in Malvern, Cardiff and Manchester.
To find out more about Co-operative organisations, visit www.uk.coop
Today the Westminster Government formally announced how it will introduce the 15 extra hours of free childcare for fostered children in England from September. Responding to the announcement, Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network said: ‘We warmly welcome this announcement which comes following a campaign led by The Fostering Network and our supporters. We were dismayed when we first realised that fostered children aged three and four in England were initially excluded from the additional 15 hours of free childcare a week that had been made available to parents since September 2017. Today’s announcement is an important milestone in rectifying that exclusion and we welcome the receptiveness of the Department for Education to our campaigning.
'We have been working closely with the Government to assist their development of this new policy – especially given there are particularly complexities for foster carers. We know that not all foster carers will be eligible (which is also the case for birth parents) and that the 15 extra hours will not be appropriate for all fostered children, but to automatically have been excluded was discriminatory and inexplicable. We believe that it should be left to the judgment of the foster carer and the social worker as to whether taking up these extra hours is appropriate for the child or not.
'We also believe that some foster carers, particularly family and friends carers and those offering long-term fostering, will need or want to combine fostering with work outside of the home because they already have a job when they start fostering, they want to model going to work, they enjoy working or, because of financial pressures, they have to go to work. This extension of the 15 extra hours to foster carers will enable them to be able to do so. This is particularly good news for the recruitment of foster carers and is consistent with the message from Government that fostering can be combined with other work.'
Young care leavers in west Norfolk will benefit from a new housing scheme and package of support that will help them to make the transition from their children’s home to independent adult living with the opening of the first ‘Staying Close, Staying Connected’ home in Kings Lynn. The house was officially opened by Jarone Macklin-Page, age 29 (a Break care leaver and Actor) on Friday 18 May. It will be home to three young care leavers.
Staying Close, Staying Connected is a partnership between regional children’s charity Break, Norfolk County Council and Cambridgeshire County Council. The aim is to change the way young care leavers are supported, by putting a framework around them when they leave their children’s home including housing, peer-to-peer support, mentoring, help with independent living skills and emotional support. Young care leavers have traditionally been some of the most vulnerable young people in society experiencing high levels of homelessness, isolation and mental health issues. ‘Staying Close, Staying Connected’ aims to address these issues and to fulfil the role of an extended family for young care leavers, supporting them for as long as they need.
The project focuses on young people from Cambridgeshire and Norfolk but it is hoped that it will become nationally recognised as best practice in support for young care leavers moving on from residential care.
The scheme has been made possible by a grant of 1.3 million awarded to Break by the Children’s Social Care Innovation Fund which aims to develop more effective ways of supporting vulnerable children, specifically those leaving children’s homes.
The project aims to open 20 houses in the next two years supporting 70 young people across the region.
Rachel Cowdry, Director of Business Development at Break says “This is a landmark moment for this very important project that will transform radically the support for young care leavers. We are really excited to be able to work in partnership with Norfolk County Council and Cambridgeshire County Council to support some of the most vulnerable young people in our communities. Break has already been supporting our own care leavers for six years through our Moving On Team and this builds on the experience we have built up in this area. The need to support young people who have lived in care has been evident for many years. These young adults are much more likely, than their peers, to struggle in all aspects of their lives such as finding and sustaining work, physical and mental health, and building positive relationships.”
Children’s charity Barnardo’s has appointed Sagar Sharma as Director of Policy and Communications.
Sagar is currently Head of Strategic Communications (International) in the Prime Minister’s and Cabinet Office Communications team. His previous roles include Head of Communications for Criminal Justice System Reform, Chief Press Officer at the Ministry of Justice, Head of Strategic Communications in southern Afghanistan, and Head of Policy and Communications for the Department for International Development across South Asia.
Sagar has two decades of experience in using communications to achieve organisational objectives and drive policy outcomes, and has a developed network in the UK and around the world.
"Barnardo's does an incredible job supporting some of the most vulnerable children in our society, having a positive impact across the UK. I'm privileged to be joining a truly passionate and talented team, and look forward to delivering against an ambitious agenda in the coming years."
Javed Khan, CEO of Barnardo’s said:
"We are very much looking forward to Sagar joining us and leading our dedicated policy and communications team. Sagar has extensive senior experience leading strategic communications alongside media management, staff engagement and digital engagement. He has a strong track record in large and complex organisations as well as press, publicity and campaigns. We are sure his appointment will help us on our mission to highlight the vital work we do supporting vulnerable children, young people and families."
Sagar will be joining Barnardo’s at the end of July.
Last year, Barnardo’s worked with 272,000 children, young people and families at more than 1,000 services across the UK. This includes work with children who have suffered abuse and those who are at risk of sexual exploitation as well as young carers, care leavers and foster carers and adoptive parents.
Sagar Sharma can be found on twitter @ContinuingSaga
Dr. Jane Herd
As the children who are placed in foster care appear to be more troubled and vulnerable many services and commissioners begin to use the discourse of providing or requiring therapeutic placements. But what do we mean by this? Does offering a carer support group facilitated by a psychologist or direct therapy by a psychotherapist to some children make a service therapeutic?
For me providing a therapeutic service is to offer something which will allow children and young people over a period of time to experience real and lasting internal changes to the way they think, relate and feel. It is not chiefly about trying to manage or alter behaviours though this is a very useful and welcome side effect. It is about providing a complete social and relational environment in which a child’s emotional distress and way of being can be held, understood and processed. Where the adults who work with them see behaviour primarily as communication from the child or young person, about how they see the world and what it is they are struggling with and where carers can use their own thoughts and emotions to further understand and explore what might be going on for a particular child. Children will often be neurologically stressed and firstly need to feel safe and contained, they can be overwhelmed by complex thoughts and feelings which make little sense and they need help to understand these better and this all this needs to be provided within a relational context which takes account of culture, community and environment.
There are many models which can be useful in providing therapeutic care but it seems essential to consider neurological, attachment, psychotherapeutic and sociological perspectives. Whatever models are privileged children and young people require a high level of emotional containment, care and understanding but so do the carers who look after them so the therapeutic environment needs to extend from the child, to the carers and throughout the whole organisation.
Dr Jane Herd – Completed her Doctorate on Hard to Reach adolescents at the Tavistock and Portman and is the Founder of Orb8 which provides a range of services for hard to reach, traumatised and marginalised children and young people and the organisations, staff and carers who work with them firstname.lastname@example.org or https://www.orb8.org/
Following the release of the Children's Commissioner's Stability Index, Barnardo's has issued the following statement:
Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:
"Barnardo’s knows that children who benefit from our loving, stable foster placements have often come from deeply troubled backgrounds and many have suffered neglect and physical or sexual abuse.
The number of looked after children has increased steadily over recent years and our research indicates that the complexity of cases of children in care has also risen.
Sixteen per cent of children referred to us have issues related to child sexual exploitation, 17% were unaccompanied asylum seekers or had been trafficked and 6% indicated harmful sexual behaviour.
It is essential that resources are there to support the foster carers who look after these vulnerable young people to help them avoid multiple placements. It’s also crucial that they are matched with the right family to avoid further instability.
Ongoing professional guidance must be made available as even the most motivated and resilient foster carers need the appropriate support package to help them through challenging circumstances.
As an independent fostering provider Barnardo’s recruits, trains and supports foster carers to care for some of the most vulnerable children."
Thousands of “pinball kids” are being shifted around the care system and between schools, putting them at risk of being excluded, groomed and recruited into gangs, the children’s commissioner for England has said.
Almost 2,400 children in care had to deal with a change of home, school and social worker, all in the space of a year in 2016-17, according to the commissioner’s annual stability index, which tracks the experiences of children in care.
It shows that more than 3,000 children had to move home at least four times in the past two years and about 2,500 moved home five or more times in the space of three years.
“Every day I hear from ‘pinball kids’ who are being pinged around the care system when all they really want is to be settled and to get on with normal life,” said the children’s commissioner, Anne Longfield.
“These children need stability, yet far too many are living unstable lives, in particular children entering care in their early teens. This puts them at greater risk of falling through the gaps in the schools system and opens them up to exploitation by gangs or to abuse.”
Now in its second year, the index found education was frequently disrupted, with 4,300 children in care moving schools mid-year to new schools which were 24 miles away on average. Four hundred children ended up missing a whole term as a result, while 6,500 children did not appear to be enrolled at school at all.
“These children may be temporarily out of school - perhaps because of a placement or school move - and re-entering school mid-year or they might have previously been in school but now left state education, or they might have never been enrolled,” the index reported.”
The commissioner’s advice line for children in care, Help at Hand, receives calls from children who are being moved around the system against their wishes or best interests. One 15-year-old boy was suddenly moved by the local authority without being told why or where he was going, despite the fact he had just secured a school place after 18 months out of school.
Another child, who had been placed in a children’s home near to his grandmother and school, was then moved to a placement several hours away with no plan for a new school.
There are more than 70,000 children in the care of local authorities and the figure is rising. Longfield said the index, which is based on data provided by councils, showed most children in care were being supported in stable foster families and schools but a “significant minority” were changing home and school too often.
She expressed particular concern about hundreds of children in care who were being shunted from one poor school to another, even though “looked-after” children are supposed to be given priority in school admissions. Teenagers, children with additional behavioural or emotional needs and those in pupil referral units - generally for excluded pupils - were the most likely to experience instability.
Longfield said there had been little change in the findings since last year’s index. “Over one in five children in care are not in the good or outstanding schools they should be, and I am worried that the system has given up on the hundreds of children bouncing around from one poor school to another,” she said.
“I want all local authorities to make reducing instability a priority and to measure it. I would also like to see Ofsted assessing the stability of children in care as part of their inspections and for the Department for Education to start asking for data on this in their annual returns from local authorities.
“The care system does work for many thousands of children but our ambition should be for every child growing up in care to have the same chances to live happy, healthy and rewarding lives as any other child. We put that at risk if we are expecting some children to constantly change school and home.”
Study also finds looked-after children complain of being stereotyped by teachers
Almost half of looked-after children are being denied their lawful right to their first choice school, the findings of a new report suggest.
The statutory admissions code says schools must give pupils in local authority care "the highest priority".
But 43 per cent of looked-after children participating in a study being published by the fostering and adoption charity, TACT, today said they were given no say in where they went to school.
The report also found that almost a third (30 per cent) of foster carers said they had not been involved in choosing the school that the children in their care attended.
The study – based on face-to-face interviews with 81 pupils in care and a survey of 89 foster carers – found that many young people (36 per cent) were not involved in the development of their own personal education plans.
And more than half (59 per cent) were not aware of what the pupil premium school funding aimed at helping them was.
Many young people expressed a desire for additional services or services that had had funding cut. Common requests included laptops, tablets and one-to-one tuition.
Asked how teachers could better support them at school, several pupils said by “listening to me”, “showing interest” and “less stereotyping and judgement” and a better understanding of what it is like to be a looked-after child.
While the pupils said they wanted to go through school being treated like everyone else, almost half (46 per cent) of respondents said they felt their educational experience was different to that of other children.
Reasons given included being pulled out of class for meetings related to their looked-after status, missing class for services, perceived stigmatisation by teachers, bullying and unwanted special attention.
TACT chief executive, Andy Elvin, said that education worked best for looked after children when carers were “fully involved” by the school.
“The carer, be their foster carer, adopter or relative, is the expert on their child,” he said. “It is therefore crucial to the child’s success that the school and family work closely together to support the child’s education.”
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