Children will have a say on fostering when Community Foster Care holds a special consultation day on January 5.
More than 30 children and 50 foster carers will get together at the Redwell Centre in Matson for an activity day, including facepainting, circus skills and African drumming sessions.
At the same time, CFC’s Shadow Board, made up of five children aged 10 to 16, will carry out a survey to find out what fostering is like at the receiving end.
They have worked with CFC’s Placement Support Workers Clare Nealey and Gavin Worrall on devising a questionnaire, designed to get feedback and pointers for any possible improvements to the service provided by CFC.
“They’ll be asking questions of cared-for children, birth children and foster carers. We will look to improve our service based on what they say,” said Chris Cawkwell, Registered Manager of CFC, a not-for-profit agency.
“It’s great because everyone gets involved - staff, carers and children. It’s essential for the agency to have that contact – it’s all about outcomes.”
The activity sessions will culminate in an impromptu show for all the guests.
“We like to think of Community Foster Care as a large family and pride ourselves on our high level of support,” said Chris.
Almost three-quarters of foster carers share the same values set, according to a new report published by the Fostering Network charity. The report, Why Foster Carers Care, is based on findings from a Department for Education (DfE) survey of 2,700 foster families.
According to the survey that used a system of psychographic profiling known as Values Modes, 73 per cent are characterised by a confidence and need to help, against a UK-wide average of 42%.
The report challenges fostering services to widen their pool of carers to meet the diverse needs of children in the care system.
James Foyle, recruitment and retention consultant at the Fostering Network, said: ‘The reason the DfE has funded this project is because they are keen to widen the demographics of those who become foster carers.
‘Over the next 15 months, the Fostering Network will be supporting 25 local authorities to use the Values Modes approach to attract and retain people to fill the gaps in their foster carer workforce.’
With the public purse feeling the strain, and those who deliver children’s services under pressure to do more with less, Action for Children is looking at new ways to offer support and share expertise.
The children’s charity is at the forefront of developing sustainable methods for supporting the UK’s most vulnerable.
Action for Children has launched webinars to tackle and discuss issues that affect children in the UK today and its upcoming session, scheduled on Wednesday, 11December, will focus on the relationship between young people and social media.
Shaun Kelly, head of safeguarding at Action for Children, and Marie Cooney, from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) will lead the discussion.
Action for Children is striving to help understanding of how children are using social media and what they are doing with it. The webinar will also look into whether worries are misplaced and what can be done to help people feel safe online.
Shaun Kelly says: “Social networking provides young people with great opportunities however it does undoubtedly carry risks. This webinar looks to help professionals guide young people through the use of social media.
“Those working in children’s services will discover how they can use social networking to their advantage to actively engage with children, learn how to support children using social networks, discover best practice and have questions answered.”
The free webinar will be from 2pm to 3pm to take part click here or email email@example.com
Giving young people the right to stay with foster carers until they are 21 years old is a major step forward
by Natasha Finlayson
My Twitter feed – which includes a large number of people who work in the care system and care leavers – exploded into joyous incredulity this week at the news that the government had agreed to introduce an amendment to the children and families bill that will give young people in England the right to stay with their foster carers until they are 21 years old, if that is what both they and their carers want.
While for some the joy was unalloyed, others had questions that ranged from the curious to the cynical.
Would the £40m from central government over three years cover all the costs or would councils have to make cuts from other vital services to fulfil this new legal duty?
Some queried what this meant for children in the other nations of the UK, and I'm delighted to hear that the Fostering Network is launching campaigns for fostered children in Wales and Scotland to have the same rights as their counterparts in England.
Many – particularly those who had been chucked unceremoniously out of children's homes before they were ready to live on their own – asked angrily why the extension to 21 applies only to young people in foster care; it looked to them as though the government was saying that all young people in care are equal, but some are more equal than others.
And how many young people actually want to stay on, given the wide variations in young people's experiences of foster care? The young care leavers we engage with at the Who Cares? Trust typify the range – some talk warmly of carers with whom they have a deeply loving relationship, who have made every sacrifice to make the child feel secure and valued; others have had carers who offered little more than the child's own parents.
Many have experienced foster care that is perfectly … adequate. Which is of course not good enough – if the state is going to take such draconian action as to remove a child from its parents then it is surely a moral imperative that the substitute parenting the state puts in place is far, far better than that from which the child was taken. Not just a place of shelter, but a place to heal, grow and flourish in.
But today is not the day for complaining that the quality of foster care should be more consistent (that can wait for tomorrow); it is a day for celebrating the fact that a major step forwards has been taken in the long battle to achieve greater parity for children in care with their peers.
The very well-worn argument that if it's not good enough for your own child then it's not good enough for children in care was never more true – like all good parents, I cannot conceive of shutting the door on my own children when they reach a certain birthday. Knowing there is somewhere you can always call home (somewhere where they have to take you in, as the saying goes) is an essential building block of emotional security and identity. We all need to belong somewhere and to someone.
If foster children stay longer with their carers we'll need to recruit more foster families for younger children and it won't be easy. Yes, extending foster care to the age of 21 will cost money – but there are few things I would rather my council spent money on, even if it means my bins overflow. And yes, it's a no-brainer that children in children's homes – often those who have had the least stable childhoods – should have the same rights as those in foster care.
So let's celebrate today and start the campaign for "staying put" in residential care tomorrow – who's with me?
Natasha Finlayson is chief executive of the Who Cares? Trust
To recognise their achievements and say a big thank you, we are exempting foster carers from paying council tax.
Foster carers living in Camden and fostering for Camden will now pay zero council tax.
We believe we are the first council to introduce this exemption and we will use the money raised from the extra council tax that we charge to the owners of empty homes to pay for it.
Why we are doing thisWe hope that this will encourage more people to become foster carers.
Camden has 256 children in our foster care system and a shortage of carers means some children have to live in residential homes outside of the borough.
The Local Government Act 2003 allows councils to reduce or exempt council tax from groups of residents at their discretion. Foster carers do a valuable job in helping us achieve the objectives of our Camden plan to give everyone a chance to succeed and make sure that nobody is left behind.
How it worksFoster parents will receive full relief from council tax every year starting 7 days after their fostering starts or from 1 April 2014, whichever is later. The reduction ends on 31 March following the date that the foster parent comes off the fostering register.
Find out more about fosteringTo talk to us about fostering or book a place at an information session call 0800 0281 436 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Fostering Network Wales and Action for Children-Gweithredu dros Blant are today calling on the Welsh Government to allow young people to stay in foster care beyond the age of 17 at the launch of the Chance to Stay - Cyfle I Aros campaign at the Senedd.
The Welsh Government is currently trialling a scheme which allows young people in foster care to stay longer, called When I am Ready. The Fostering Network Wales and Action for Children-Gweithredu dros Blant want this scheme to be available to young people across Wales. As such, they are asking the Welsh Government to include an amendment to its Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill to make it clear in law that young people can stay with their foster families until they are at least 21.
The Chance to Stay - Cyfle I Aros report shows that young people who stay in foster care achieve more qualifications (55 per cent) and are less likely to be involved in alcohol and substance misuse than those who leave by the age of 18.
The report also reveals that those who leave care at 18 could cost the UK and Welsh Governments an estimated £131,000 more per person in benefits and public service support than those who leave care later, demonstrating the wider economic value of the proposed amendment.
Freda Lewis, director of the Fostering Network Wales, said: “While most young people now stay with their families until at least 24, some of the most vulnerable in society – those who have been in care – have to leave by the time they are 18.
“We want Wales to be the best place for a young person to enter independence. If the Welsh Government provides stability for young people by allowing them to stay with their foster carers post-17, it will vastly improve their chances of a successful and prosperous adulthood.”
You can find out more about the campaign on the Fostering Network Wales Chance to Stay – Cyfle I Aros website.
FtSE Member News: TACT welcomes Government announcement allowing young people to remain in foster care until twenty one
TACT (The Adolescent and Children’s Trust) today welcomed the announcement by the Government that young people in foster care in England will be entitled to remain with their carers until 21.
The move follows TACT’s and sector colleagues ‘Still our Children’ campaign, which sought an amendment to the Children and Families Bill requiring local authorities to allow foster care to continue until 21. Local authorities are currently permitted to allow an extension from 18 to 21 but many do not do so. The government has announced £40 million funding for local authorities over the next three years to pay for additional costs.
Following the announcement TACT interim CEO David Bradley said;
“We are absolutely delighted that the Government has listened to TACT and sector colleagues campaigning for this amendment to the Children and Families Bill. There will still be issues to address, such as the continuing need for additional foster carers across the UK. However, this is a fantastic development, giving children in foster care the security, stability and support they desperately need as they enter adulthood. We hope Governments across the UK will follow suit and also that similar entitlements for children in residential care are soon introduced.”
Action for Children is responding to the announcement made this morning that children in care in England will be able to stay with their foster families until their 21st birthday, rather than having to leave at 18.
Matt Downie, head of campaigns at Action for Children, said: “We have been asking for the care leaving age to be increased for decades – this is a long time coming but a vital change for vulnerable children and young people.
“The trauma that many experience before being taken into care can mean that they are not ready to leave home before they are 21. Many are forced to live independently at 16 years old and we know it can be a dangerous and lonely experience.
“Today we are launching a campaign calling on the Welsh Government to do the same as the same as the Department for Education in supporting young people in foster care until 21.
“Now is the time to ensure all young people in foster care have the Chance to Stay.”
To find out more about Action for Children's campaign Chance to Stay click here.
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