Outstanding young woman wins national fostering award
An inspirational young woman from Gateshead who has volunteered hundreds of hours for St John Ambulance has been awarded a prestigious national award for young people who have experience of living in foster care.
Skye Marshall won the Outstanding Achievement Award at The Fostering Network’s Fostering Excellence Awards. The award is presented to those who have succeeded through foster care against the odds.
Skye came into care lacking confidence and full of worry. With hard work and focus she has become an overachiever and an excellent role model to other young people in care.
She has achieved a multitude of accolades in recent years. As well as all her volunteering for St John Ambulance, who she represented at Buckingham Palace, Skye has never taken a day off school, has achieved excellent GCSE results, completed her Duke of Edinburgh bronze award, raised money for a range of charities and even found time to learn sign language and the violin.
Skye’s foster carer, Patsy, who nominated her said: ‘When Skye first moved in with us eight years ago she lacked confidence and was constantly worried. Since then she has worked hard, focused on her chosen path and reaped the rewards for all her effort.’
Skye collected the award this month at The Fostering Excellence Awards ceremony in London. The awards, now in their fourth year, recognise people who make exceptional contributions to foster care, whether they are social workers, foster carers, care experienced young people or the children of fostering families.
Kevin Williams, Chief Executive of The Fostering Network, the UK’s leading fostering charity, said: ‘It’s incredible how much Skye has managed to pack in over the last eight years that she has lived with her foster carer. On top of this Skye is a fantastic role model to the other young people living with her foster carer and a passionate advocate for fostering. She is an embodiment of The Fostering Network’s conviction that, with the right support, especially from their foster carer, young people in foster care can flourish.’
Rachael Johnson, Assistant Director at Team Fostering said: 'We are so delighted to hear of Skye's success in The Fostering Excellence Awards; her achievements are truly remarkable. We'd also like to pay very special thanks to Patsy Marshall, Skye's Foster Carer, who should take this achievement as recognition of the care, encouragement and support she has afforded to children and young people during her career as a foster carer.
A MALVERN fostering agency is taking a lead role in a groundbreaking move to improve fostering standards.
The Foster Care Co-operative, based at Spring Lane, has joined forces with the Children’s Family Trust, based in Bromsgrove, and Gloucestershire-based Community Foster Care to offer Skyrocket, a training venture aimed at preparing staff for the task of managing a fostering organisation.
Skyrocket offers training in the key elements of regulation, administration, contracting, leadership and human resources, all within the context of fostering.
Ian Brazier, executive director of the Foster Care Co-operative, said: “Fostering-focused registered manager training seems to be in very short supply.
"We wanted to create something that would equip current and future managers with the right tools to manage their service from the off.
"By streamlining a course agenda, we cut out extraneous modules making the training relevant, engaging and delivered in a time frame that is sensitive to the workloads of the attendees. We are currently delivering this course for the third time, and feedback so far has been excellent.
“What makes this venture unique is the alliance of three not-for-profit fostering organisations who are working together to improve standards across the fostering sector. The course was written by managers, for managers.”
Funds raised from Skyrocket are ploughed back into providing more foster carer support across the three agencies.
The government should establish a national campaign to attract foster carers in a bid to tackle the current shortage, the president of the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS) has said.
Giving evidence before the education select committee, which is currently holding an inquiry into fostering, Alison Michalska said more needs to be done centrally to address the lack of high-quality foster carers in the system.
Earlier this year The Fostering Network said 7,180 new carers are needed across the UK to replace those who leave and to increase the pool of carers to be able to provide suitable homes for the diverse range of children coming into care.
A Department for Education-commissioned report into the fostering system published in July found that there was no clear government policy to deal with escalating recruitment problems.
Appearing before MPs, Michalska said: "One of the things government could do is to get behind a national campaign for recruiting foster carers. To actually show the range of skills [required].
"I think that the more we can do to raise the profile of fostering as a worthwhile thing to do and such a valuable service. There could be more national campaigning to raise the awareness and the rewards also of being a foster carer. I think that would be really beneficial."
Labour MP Lucy Powell, former shadow education secretary, said her experience was that foster carers feel unsupported, which can put them off taking on more children and continuing in the role.
"Sufficiency and supply is the key number one issue here," she said.
Also giving evidence, the chief executive of The Adolescent and Children's Trust, Andy Elvin, told MPs that more than a dozen councils are interested in handing over complete responsibility for their fostering and adoption services to his charity, which earlier this year began a 10-year deal worth £126m with Peterborough City Council.
He said "systemic" issues with provision of fostering services are leading more councils to consider taking a similar route.
"There are 12 or 13 local authorities already talking to us about what we are doing in Peterborough," he said.
"The difficulty with fostering and adoption services in most local authorities is they are not the most important thing in children's services. Child protection will always be the most important thing.
"Child protection is what will lose you your job. Sometimes [foster] care isn't optimal, [but] it is very, very rarely dangerous.
"The risk is all in the child protection side. Too many adoption teams and fostering teams are in the backwaters in local authorities. They don't get the care and attention, and they don't get the rigorous management focus that they need to run a good service."
A government-ordered stocktake of the fostering system is currently being undertaken and is due to report its findings to the DfE by the end of the year.
Trafficked children need specialist foster care placements to reduce the risk of them going missing or being retrafficked, says Barnardo’s on Anti-Slavery Day.
Child victims of trafficking need specialist foster carers who have the skills and knowledge to help them overcome their trauma and keep them safe from traffickers, says the UK’s leading children’s charity.
Today (Wednesday, October 18) is Anti-Slavery Day which aims to raise awareness of human trafficking and modern slavery, and encourage government, local authorities, companies, charities and individuals to do what they can to address the problem.
The UK’s largest children’s charity, which runs the national Counter Trafficking Service, also says it’s vital that professionals working with children can spot the signs of trafficking to keep children safe.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:
"Trafficked children are threatened, manipulated and controlled by their traffickers who feed them a web of lies leading them to fear authorities.
It is well known that there is a greater risk of trafficked children going missing from care but too often processes are not put in place to protect children.
The first few weeks after a child has been identified as a potential trafficking victim are often the most crucial time to prevent them being re-trafficked and we need better support for these children.
They need specialist foster care placements where carers understand the risks and can work closely with other agencies to keep children safe."
Trafficked children are some of the most vulnerable in this country. Many children Barnardo’s has supported have been sexually abused, forced to work in nail bars or car washes, or forced to commit crimes, such as cultivating cannabis.
Many trafficked children go missing from care. They often go back to their traffickers out of fear for their families or themselves or because they’re the only person they know. Sometimes children will not realise they are being exploited or have been trafficked and want to return to their traffickers.
Traffickers use emotional and physical abuse to control children. They might lure children in with false promises and once in their power, they threaten them or their families with violence or death. They don’t care about the age of children; Barnardo’s specialist services have supported children and young people aged 0-21.
Barnardo’s National Counter Trafficking Service provides specialist support workers who are the go to people for trafficked children. They help children understand what is happening with social care services, the police and immigration in ways they understand and give them tools to stay safe.
Barnardo’s also says that professionals working with children have different levels of understanding about trafficking, with some not knowing what the signs are and therefore aren’t always able to keep them safe - it’s important they get specialist training to understand the issue.
Fostering News: Government pledge £16 million to tackle drug dependency and support children in care
Money from the Life Chances Fund will benefit ten projects
Projects that combat drug and alcohol dependency and support children in care will receive more than £16 million, Minister for Sport and Civil Society Tracey Crouch announced today.
The money is the first round of investment from the £80 million Life Chances Fund and will:
Minister for Sport and Civil Society, Tracey Crouch, said:
This funding will benefit some of the most vulnerable people in society and provide vital support to help them transform their lives. The UK is a world leader in using social impact bonds to make a positive impact in society and these projects will achieve real results in communities across the country.
Examples of the projects that will receive funding are:
Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC)
FDAC will receive £6.2 million over seven years to support its work within the family court system to help families whose children are subject to care proceedings due to parental substance misuse and domestic violence in the home. Parents will be supported to address these issues so that children can be safely returned to the home. It is estimated that over 2,400 individuals will benefit from the programme.
Fostering Better Outcomes
Supported by Cheshire West and Chester Council, Fostering Better Outcomes will receive £939,000 to support the delivery of a project which aims to help children and young people transition into stable foster care. It will work with 30 children aged seven to 17 who are in or are at risk of entering residential care, to help improve their emotional well-being.
West London Alliance
The organisation will receive £1,200,000 to deliver placement services to people with drug and alcohol addictions who are out of work, so they can gain and retain competitive paid employment.
The Big Lottery Fund is delivering the Life Chances fund on behalf of DCMS.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The £80m Life Chances Fund was launched in July 2016 with the objective of tackling entrenched social issues and helping those people in society who face the most significant barriers to leading happy and productive lives.
The fund is structured around six key themes: drug and alcohol dependency, children's services, early years, young people, older people's services, and healthy lives.
The grantees, the money they will receive and the project they will deliver, are listed below:
Judge has ruled girls, all under 10, cannot be separated and foster mother feels she is too old to look after them
Social services in Rotherham are looking for a new adoptive home for four sisters because their foster mother feels she is too old to look after them.
A care plan approved by a judge has ruled that the girls, all under 10, cannot be separated. Their 66-year-old foster mother, who has been kept anonymous to protect the identity of the children, said the girls needed a home for at least the next 18 years, and that she and her husband were unable to provide that.
“They’re lovely,” she told the Guardian. “I’m not going to say they’re easy work. No children are. I don’t know anybody who finds parenting easy, but considering what they’ve gone through, they’re lovely.
“They do ask when they’re going to get a new mummy and daddy and we keep saying that they’re looking. I just hope there is someone out there who will take on four little girls, because they would have a lovely readymade family.”
Rotherham council said finding people who were willing to adopt groups of siblings was particularly hard. There are only 12 groups of four or more siblings needing adoption nationwide, two of which are in Rotherham.
The local authority offers a package of support for anyone willing to adopt a larger group of siblings, including financial help to buy a bigger car and other items for the home.
The girls were brought into care because of neglect, and their foster mother said the eldest had been playing the role of a mother to her sisters when they first arrived with the family.
“The eldest was like a little mum and she isn’t now. She knows that she can go off and do her own thing on her own if she wants. She doesn’t have to worry about the others,” she said. “They love each other and they’ve always been together. It would be devastating for these children to be split up.”
The foster mother and her husband have seven children, six of whom they have adopted and three of whom were siblings. They have fostered more than 200 children over the past 35 years. They have 16 grandchildren and say they will continue to foster for another couple of years.
Gordon Watson, the deputy leader of Rotherham council and the cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said having children was “a gift and something to be treasured” but that some were “not lucky enough to be born into families where they are put first in this way”.
“And for some children, keeping bonds they have already developed with their siblings can make all the difference in order for them to be able to thrive,” he said. “This group of four young girls have a very close sibling bond and it would no doubt cause them further grief if they were to be split up in order to find them permanent homes.”
FFP Member News: Action for Children - Care Review urged to consider recommendations of leading children’s charity
A year on from the announcement of an independent review into Scotland’s care system, Action for Children is asking the review to consider four recommendations in a newly published report that includes extensive feedback from care experienced young people in Scotland.
‘Scotland’s Care System: Achieving Life Goals and Ambitions’ report was launched at this year’s SNP conference. Its publication is 12 months on from when the review was announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during her leader’s speech at the SNP’s 2016 conference. The research is based on the views of almost 500 young people in the care system who are supported by Action for Children in Scotland.
Paul Carberry, Director of Action for Children in Scotland, said: “The independent review of Scotland’s care system is a huge opportunity to address any parts of the system that are failing our young people. In our report, we have looked at what care experienced children and young people have told us.
"Care experienced young people have told us repeatedly what needs to change. They want a system that allows them to develop positive and appropriate relationships with all those involved in their lives. They want people and systems around them that treat them with respect so that they can turn to them in times of need. They want to receive support at ‘transitional’ moments in their care journey. It is vital to get the balance right between having independence and receiving support."
Paul Carberry, Director of Action for Children in Scotland
“Now, more needs to be done to ensure that all the existing laws, policies, strategies, guidance, programmes and initiatives that have been committed to are fully implemented and delivered. The care system must evolve, in design and practice, with what young people, professionals and carers who live and work in it believe is needed.
“The Independent Review of Scotland’s Care System now has the opportunity to do this and make a real difference for children and young people in care.”
Brad Ritchie is one of the care experienced young people who fed into our report. Brad is 21 and was born in Irvine. At the age of nine, he was separated from his three siblings after family breakdown.
Although Brad spent more than three years in that placement, it was with a foster family who weren’t able to commit to long-term care beyond that point. “I felt anxious when I first left this placement and I became withdrawn,” said Brad. “I still don’t like meeting new people. Deep down I now expect people to abandon me and I find it hard to trust people.”
Brad was fortunate enough to have the support of a throughcare worker although that didn’t mean moving placements didn’t have an effect on him.
Brad said: “I felt nervous, worried about change, and getting used to new surroundings made me scared. I also worried too if I would fit into their family as they already had children and I might have been treated differently. This was first placement where I would be on my own as my sister had been moved on to a different placement during our stay with the first foster carer.”
Fortunately, though, his second carer, had a hugely positive impact on Brad. “I found my second foster carer Sarah to be very helpful. She encouraged me to keep in touch with my siblings, which was very important to me, as they had been accommodated with other foster placements.”
Brad left care at 18 years of age, and was placed in a supported homeless hostel. Brad stayed there for 2 years before he was allocated his own tenancy from West Lothian Council and referred to Action for Children for help with independent living.
Owing to being in care, Brad lacked experience of budgeting properly as his bills were paid for him and his food supplied. With help from Action for Children, Brad was able to develop the skills to manage his own tenancy. This included providing money skills training and help to navigate the benefits system. .
Action for Children also supported Brad to address underlying mental health issues that were causing him concern which he had not previously sought help for. Service staff supported Brad to take part in a social anxieties group. He was also referred to the Adventure Trust and attended an eight-week wilderness trip with them, which helped him to become more confident. Staff helped to access professional support for his mental health issues and he now attends his GP as required.
“My support worker has advised where I can access support, where that may be the drop in Action for Children, or I can call them at any time for advice,” said Brad. “They have also signposted other local agencies that can help me, like the local advice shop.”
Although in a much better place now, Brad still recognises the frustrations caused by some of the failings within the care system.
“I think the local authority could have helped me more when I left my foster carer,” said Brad. “I had to present as homeless, and I had no idea where to access the support, that was available.”
When pressed on what frustrated or annoyed him about the care system: “Not being with my brothers and sister,” said Brad. “At first, I didn’t like the rules, as I never had any before going into care but I learned these were for my own good,” Brad went on to say. “It annoyed and frustrated me that I didn’t know how to manage a tenancy, and I had no idea what I was doing. I was frustrated, as it took so long to find me a long-term foster placement.”
A few years on, Brad successfully manages his own tenancy in West Lothian and recently started a full-time child care course at the local college. He also supports others in the group, by talking about his experience of making the transition from care leaver, to homelessness, to successfully managing independent living. He is hopeful for the future. “I hope to continue at college or university, and train to work with kids, who may have been in care,” said Brad.
About the Review
The full report can be downloaded here
A total of 824 people in the care system are supported by Action for Children and were asked their views on what worked, what didn’t as well as their hopes and aspirations as part of the research. A total of 471 people responded and shared their views.
A generous donation from Arsenal Football Club will mean that the St Christopher's All Blacks football team will have a pitch to play on over the winter months.
Our London based football team made up of young people from across our different homes play each Tuesday night, rain or shine. In the past they have won their local power play league and have played a key role in us welcoming unaccompanied asylum seeking children to the UK.
During the summer playing in the park is fine, but as this doesn't work when the nights start getting dark, having the funds for a proper pitch will make all the difference.
Every year, The Fostering Network - one of the UK’s leading fostering charities - launches a campaign called ‘Sons and Daughters Month’. The campaign celebrates the role of ‘birth children’ in the fostering household.
When people apply to become foster carers, an assessment is undertaken called a Form F. This can take many months to complete because it involves a detailed evaluation of the applicant’s life – quite rightly because fostering is providing care to very vulnerable children. When those applicants have children of their own, part of this assessment is to check that the ‘birth children’ themselves are comfortable with the potential fostering arrangements. After all, fostering is something that the whole family unit undertakes, and is quite unique in that respect.
An agreement from birth children that they are willing to accept other children into their household is a necessary step in order for their parents to potentially become carers. What it doesn’t do, obviously, is show how amazing and welcoming these children truly are. Sons and Daughters Month is both an acknowledgement and a thank you to all the fantastic birth children of foster carers who, in their own way, contribute to the fostering task.
FCC’s Director of Child Care for England, Steve Field, said: “Birth children play a vital role in welcoming fostered children into the household. FCC is delighted to celebrate the positive impact and dedication birth children show and we are extremely thankful that they are a part of our fostered children lives, sometimes going on to become foster carers themselves.”
Kim Perkins, FCC’s Director of Child Care for Wales, said: "At the FCC, we always remain conscious that children and young people are placed within a fostering household and that all members of that household are key components of their fostering experience. Unfortunately, the important role played by the sons and daughters of foster carers isn't always recognised so we welcome the opportunity to celebrate them during 'Sons and Daughters' month".
FCC’s message to the birth children of foster carers is: thank you for accepting a new child into your home. Thank you for playing with them, talking to them, bonding with them, making them laugh, listening to them, helping them and sharing your parent’s time with them. Without you, your parents wouldn’t be able to make a real difference to children’s lives. This is something that you should be truly proud of.
Break, a Norfolk children’s charity, are honoured to announce that we have been awarded a Department for Education grant for £1.3 million to improve services for children leaving care in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.
The grant comes from 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 funding will pay for a pilot project in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire to test out effective ways to support children leaving care over the next two and a half years.
Rachel Cowdry, Director of Business Development at Break says “This is a really exciting opportunity for us to work in partnership with Norfolk County Council and Cambridgeshire County Council to support some of the most vulnerable young people in our counties. Break has already been supporting our own care leavers for five years through our Moving On Team. The Department for Education grant will enable us to develop this project to benefit many more vulnerable young people. We hope that this project will have positive repercussions for care leavers in our region and beyond”.
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. Sir Martin Narey, the former Chief Executive of Barnardo’s, conducted an independent review of children’s residential care in England, published in July 2016. This report stated the importance for the young people to “Stay Close” to their children’s home and the trusted relationships they had with the staff after they had to leave. The Break project will test out different ways to support these young people including “Staying Close” and will provide new training for staff working in residential care homes, more accommodation for care leavers with intensive support, including focusing on their emotional wellbeing, so that care leavers can acquire the skills and resilience they need to live independent, successful lives.
Robert Goodwill, Minister for Children and Families, said:
“Through the Innovation Programme, we continue to fund exciting and pioneering projects that look to shake-up our traditional approach to social care.
“Together they proffer a broad and balanced portfolio which both test new innovations, and scale and spread those that have been successful in Round One of the programme.
“I am delighted that we have supported these projects, and look forward to continuing to hear about their great work in the future.”
For further information on Break or Break’s Moving On Team visit www.break-charity.org
For further information on the latest Innovation Fund projects visit http://springconsortium.com/projects-being-funded/
For further comment from Break contact – Rachel Cowdry 01603 670100 or Rachel.firstname.lastname@example.org
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