TACT has responded to a Welsh Government consultation on its proposed scheme called 'When I am Ready'.
TACT has welcomed the scheme, which aims to ensure better support for care leavers in their transition to adulthood and independence.
Read our response: TACT response to Welsh Government Consultation: “When I am Ready Scheme” – continuity of care
FOSTERING services run by charity Parents And Children Together (PACT) have been rated as 'good' following a recent Ofsted inspection. The report praised PACT's strong leadership and management which is driving the strategic growth of the service.
The Ofsted inspection recognised the innovative approach which PACT takes to long term fostering including its innovative Dual Approval scheme (fostering with a view to adoption) and highlighted the therapeutic support services – FACTS - on offer to PACT foster families.
Ofsted also found good examples of PACT’s safeguarding procedures and outlined the comprehensive programme of training undertaken by all PACT foster carers.
The inspector found: “PACT has a lengthy and extensive experience as a voluntary adoption agency and the fostering element of PACT is able to draw upon the material and therapeutic resources of its adoption service in the support of fostered children.
“The strength of this agency has been in its ability to recruit, prepare and support foster carers who will give a permanent, long term placement to children, with the possibility of them going on to adopt the children placed.”
The report also stated: “Children benefit from being placed with carers who are well trained and prepared for the fostering task and who are focused on the needs of children and young people.”
PACT’s fostering service was found to have a good balance of carers including those from ethnic minorities and a focus on helping its children to have good outcomes such as enjoying life and gaining a sense of achievement. Examples at the Ofsted inspection included children being part of clubs, going on holiday and improving in self-confidence.
PACT’s Chief Executive, Jan Fishwick said: “I am delighted to announce that we hold a ‘good’ Ofsted rating for PACT’s developing fostering service.
“This is testament to the professionalism of our team and our foster carers who are working extremely hard to grow the service so that we can help more children in need of loving and supportive families.
“This independent assessment recognises that PACT offers a quality fostering service. Fostering is a hugely rewarding experience for carers and families who are able to open their homes to children who are going through difficult times. I urge anyone thinking about fostering to get in touch.”
PACT’s next fostering information events are taking place on 5th February, 3 – 7pm, drop in at PACT’s Children Centre in Didcot; 18th February 6.30 – 8pm at Brixton Recreation centre; and 9thMarch 1 – 5pm, drop in at PACT’s office, 9 South Street, Reading. For more details about fostering with PACT visit pactcharity.org/fostering.
PACT is a fostering and adoption charity that also runs children’s centres and community projects across the Thames Valley.
The Children’s Minister, Edward Timpson, has written to foster carers about the valuable role they play in supporting the children they care for, and sets out what the Government will be doing to support them over the coming year.
Click the link to read the letter to foster carers.
Barnardo’s is calling for all foster children to be given the option to stay with their foster carers until they are 21.
Majority care leavers leave at 18
Only 18 out of 152 local authorities (12%) in England have care leavers who remained with their foster carers after their 18th birthday.
In stark contrast a YouGov poll on behalf of Barnardo's found only 5% of UK parents expected their children to leave home by 18, with more than a quarter (27 per cent) expecting them to be at least 26 and 64% expecting them to be at least 22 before they left home.
What we want to happen
Care leaver’s alone at ChristmasBarnardo’s spoke to 35 young care leavers it works with and only nine (26 per cent) will be spending Christmas with their parents or previous foster carers.
Others said they will be spending Christmas alone in a bed and breakfast, with their boyfriend or girlfriend or feeding the homeless with their support workers.
Chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said:Young people in care are being forced to go it alone when they turn 18.
At Christmas time the impact of this abandonment is particularly poignant.
Why does the Government expect such vulnerable teenagers as these, many of whom have been neglected or abused as children, to start their journey into adulthood on their own and before they are ready?
We are inviting foster families, fostering services and prospective foster carers to Get in the Frame for Foster Care Fortnight 2013.
For next year’s campaign we will be turning the media spotlight on fostering by encouraging people to put themselves in the frame and start the journey to becoming a foster carer.
To bring the campaign to life, we’ll be placing foster families, celebrities and politicians throughout the UK in our picture frame, and sharing the photos through media, social networks and online to raise awareness of the urgent need for more people to foster.
We will also be encouraging fostering services to put their foster families in their own picture frame to acknowledge the outstanding contribution they make and to demonstrate the skills and qualities needed by potential new carers.
James Foyle, recruitment and retention consultant at the Fostering Network, said: “This year’s theme, Get in the Frame, will encourage more people to foster and get them thinking they have what it takes to offer children a loving home and are ready start the journey to fostering.
“The theme is also designed to provide fostering services throughout the UK with the opportunity to highlight their need for more foster carers in a visually strong and universally applicable way. We want as many fostering services as possible to join in with the theme to make the campaign a real success."
Foster Care Fortnight 2013 will be held from 13 to 26 May, and the Get in the Frametheme will be introduced to fostering services at the Fostering Network’s workshops in York, Birmingham and London.
At the workshops we will be showcasing all the opportunities for fostering services to put themselves and their fostering families in the frame, creating a buzz in local communities and online to aid their recruitment activity.
More details on the workshops and how to book your place are available on this website.
Following the publication of the Government consultation there has been much talk about empowering foster carers. The premise is that we will have more responsibility for everyday decision making in respect of the children we foster, for example, by deciding when to take the child to have his or her hair cut, or giving permission for the child to go on a school outing, attend a birthday party or sleepover. At present, depending on the type of care order the child is on, permission for what are everyday activities and experiences for most children can become an obtuse process, so much so that children in care do miss out.
While it would seem that any step to normalise the lives of children in care must be a good one, I have concerns. To begin with I think we need to distinguish between long term and short term placements. While it may be appropriate for a carer to make everyday decisions for a child who is with them permanently it is very different if the child is short term; where the parents retain parental responsibility and the carer needs to be working with the parents. To not seek their permission or views would be to undermine their role as parent.
Another concern I have is that, particularly with short term placements, we are unlikely to have the information we need to make a judgement on whether to give permission, especially in respect of social events such as a friend’s sleepover. We get to know our children’s friends and their families over months and years, from living in the same neighbourhood, taking our children to – and collecting them from school, attending coffee mornings and fund raising events etc. This is not true of most short term placements where the child often comes from a different area and attends a school which is not local. These children arrive with a ready-made network of friends, aunts, uncles and associates etc.
I had firsthand experience of this pitfall earlier this year when an 11-year-old girl I was fostering wanted to go to a friend's house for a sleepover. I didn’t know the family – her school was over 10 miles away and I asked her social worker what I should do. The social worker told me it was my decision; that I should treat her like my own child. It was a decision I didn’t feel I could make. I didn’t want the girl to miss out but on the other hand I had no knowledge of her friend’s family. Would I have sent my own child there? No, because I didn’t know the family.
I had a sleepless night trying to decide what to do for the best and then I raised my concerns with the local authority, pointing out that I simply didn’t have the information on which to make an informed decision. The social services have access to databases we do not and they ran a check and found that the eldest brother in the family was known to the social services and the police. I wasn’t told the details but the decision was made the child wasn’t to go to their house. Thank goodness I had stood my ground and resisted the pressure to give permission for her to go, as the social worker was pushing me to do, for had I done so and something had happened I’d never have forgiven myself, and neither I suspect would the LA.
UKIP spokesman Winston McKenzie says adoption by gay people constitutes “child abuse”.
The Huffington Post reported on 27th November:
Winston McKenzie, a Ukip candidate for Croydon North, has sparked outrage after insisting it was “not healthy” for a child to be adopted by a gay couple.
Gay rights charity Stonewall said McKenzie’s comments were “outdated”, calling him a “political obsessive”, while adoption charities highlighted the advantages and importance of gay people being able to foster and adopt.
McKenzie spoke out after a row erupted over a couple in Rotherham who had their foster children taken away, amid fears their membership of the UK Independence party made them racist.
McKenzie told the Croydon advertiser on Monday: “If you couldn’t look after your child and you had to put them up for adoption would you honestly want your child to be adopted by a gay couple?
“Would you seriously want that or a heterosexual family? Which would be more healthy for the child?
“A caring loving home is a heterosexual or single family. I don’t believe (a gay couple) is healthy for a child.”
He has since been tweeting updates on his position, describing the article as a “set up”
Andy Leary-May, director of New Family Social, a UK charity for LGBT adopters and foster carers told the Huffington Post UK: “Mr Winston McKenzie seems to understand very little about the care system generally.
“Regardless of his beliefs, every one of his concerns about children being adopted by lesbian and gay people has been disproven time and time again.
“These antiquated views discount the fact that LGBT people are adopting and caring for hundreds of children who need the love, understanding and skills they offer, and have been for years. The debate has moved on, and Mr McKenzie’s comments are both outdated and offensive.”
His views were echoed on Twitter where users have been vehement in their condemnation of McKenzie describing his views as “upsetting” and calling the former boxer a “disgrace”.
The British Association for Adoption & Fostering said in a statement: Evidence is beginning to emerge the rapid development children make when placed in gay and lesbian households – similar to that children make in heterosexual households. The success of the changes made to the law strongly suggest that this is a development to be built on.”
Ukip has attempted to distance itself from McKenzie, who is the party’s spokesman for culture, media and sport, while not criticising his comments outright.
David Coburn, Chairman of Ukip London, who is openly gay, said in a statement posted on Facebook that McKenzie does not represent the views of the party and that they supported gay marriage.
He added: “we are categorically not against gay adoption; what we do have a problem with is that Catholic adoption agencies have been banned for opposing gay adoption. The only thing that matters is that the children receive a safe and loving home.”
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