Barnardo's is pleased to hear the announcement in the Budget from Chancellor Philip Hammond that £84m will be invested over five years to expand programmes for children in care.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:
"Children’s services are reaching breaking point, so we welcome this much needed cash injection in today’s Budget.
But children and families desperately need support much earlier – to prevent them going into the care system.
We are working with government, local authorities and others to develop long-term strategic partnerships around the country, co-designing and co-delivering services, so that young people get the help they need when they need it."
Did you know that as foster carer, you can foster both a parent and their children? It’s called PACT (Parents And Children Together), and there is a great need for PACT trained foster carers. Jane, one of FCC’s Supervising Social Workers and PACT trainer, explains why.
As a Supervising Social Worker for FCC I have supported many foster carers providing a variety of placements.
Recently, we have provided an increased number of Parent and Child placements. This is where a parent is placed alongside their child in the foster home. This can be one or two parents and a baby or a child. We have also had a mother and two children placed with us. This type of fostering is very different to the usual placement of a child or young person in the family home but is as equally rewarding.
Often these placements have been requested by the court where there have been concerns about the mother’s ability to parent and are usually requested for a 12 week assessment period, but due to circumstances this can vary.
Issues that we have dealt with include concerns around a parent’s previous drug or alcohol use, learning disabilities or inappropriate partners. Maybe the parent has previously had a child removed from their care. Having a parent live in the foster home gives them a chance to learn new skills and build their confidence to enable them to parent their child adequately.
Carers assist them with learning routines with regards to feeding, laundry, play and sleep times etc. Parents are involved in all aspects of family life with the carers acting as appropriate role models. Parents have been supported to attend local baby groups, visit the clinic and doctors etc. They have taken part in family activities to include meals out, cinema and barbeques. The carers need good observation and recording skills. They need good communication skills as they will need to build a relationship with the parent but also remain clear that they have to report back to the Social Worker on a regular basis.
We have seen children return with their parents to live in the community successfully with some keeping in contact with their carers afterwards. Sometimes this is not possible and the child’s needs have to remain the most important throughout. If the plan is for the child to live elsewhere the foster carers have an important role in supporting them to transition to a new family. Myself and an experienced PACT carer provide training and support specific to this role. PACT carers will have regular Social Work visits and 24 hour phone support. They will also have peer support from other PACT carers. It can be hard work but also very rewarding knowing that you have been part of a team making the best decision for a child.
Paula, one of our most experienced PACT carers, said: “The thing I enjoy about PACT placements is that I’m not the babysitter. It’s my job to encourage the parent to be a good mum or dad and it’s rewarding watching them learn new skills.”
If you feel that you could become a PACT foster carer, or if you have an interest in fostering generally, you can make an initial enquire here.
Barnardo’s has signed up to the new Care Leaver Covenant launched today (Friday 26 October) to highlight its commitment to creating more opportunities for young people leaving the care system.
By signing the Covenant, Barnardo’s promises to offer activities such as volunteering and work experience, including providing opportunities across our network of more than 700 high street shops.
In 2017-18, Barnardo’s supported 3,200 young people leaving the care system. This included access to appropriate accommodation, specialist mental health & wellbeing services, and help with employment training and skills. The UK’s oldest and largest children’s charity has been helping young people who couldn’t live with their birth families for 152 years, and this work remains a key priority under its ambitious 10 year strategy.
Young people leaving care are likely to have experienced early trauma, neglect or abuse. In England, the latest figures show they are far less likely to achieve positive outcomes than those who have not been in care. 40% of care leavers aged 19-21 are not in education, employment or training (EET)*, compared to just 13% of all young people of the same age**.
The Covenant, unveiled by Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi MP, is a promise made by private, public and voluntary organisations to help care leavers aged 16-25 to transition successfully into adulthood. It will act as a ‘kite mark’ for organisations wanting to promote their offer to this group of young people.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:
"Sadly young people leaving care often struggle to gain good qualifications and get their foot on the career ladder.
That’s why Barnardo’s is committed to offering high quality work placements as well as specialist advice and support.
We believe that all young people deserve the opportunity to follow their dreams. That’s why our ambition is for care leavers to have the same life chances as other young people, including access to employment, education and training."
More than 40,000 children leave the care system each year. Most were taken into care as a result of abuse or neglect. When they reach adulthood, many care leavers are poorly prepared for independence, lacking the financial skills, emotional confidence or family network to form the self-reliance needed to make their way in life.
Some care leavers also face additional challenges. In 2017-18, 26% of care leavers supported by Barnardo’s reported having a disability. In addition, 26% of female care leavers and 11 per cent of male care leavers that we supported were young parents.
The government has launched a commitment to help care leavers access education, employment and training, following a two-year delay, announcing an aim to create 10,000 "work opportunities" for young people.
Plans to create a Care Leaver Covenant were first announced in May 2016 by then Prime Minister David Cameron as a way to encourage organisations to offer more support to care leavers in England. It was due to launch in October 2016 but has suffered a series of delays.
Launching the initiative today, children's minister Nadhim Zahawi said a total of 65 organisations including businesses such as Amazon, Rolls Royce and Barclays Lifeskills, as well as charities, and every government department in England have signed up to the document, with dozens more committed to sign.
A Care Leaver Covenant website has been set up with details of the initiative. Signatories have pledged to give care leavers access to work placements, internships or training sessions.
Government figures show that in the year to 31 March 2017, 40 per cent of care leavers aged 19 to 21 were not in education, employment or training (Neet) and the status of a further 10 per cent was unknown. This compares with a Neet rate of 12.7 per cent of all 19- to 24-year-olds were Neet during January to March 2017.
Zahawi, said: "Becoming an adult is a daunting and challenging time for all of us, but I know from speaking to many young people leaving care, this transition can feel like facing a cliff edge.
"This is a landmark moment on how businesses can support care leavers, who through no fault of their own have been dealt a difficult hand in life.
"Young people leaving care have often overcome huge challenges but struggle to achieve the same positive outcomes in life as their peers, which is simply not fair. When we talk about burning injustices, this is what we mean - so we need to be more ambitious for these young people.
"Working with businesses, charities and every government department, our new covenant will improve the offer we make to these young people, through work placements, skills training or access to university so that they can fulfil their potential and flourish as adults."
The package of support for care leavers includes:
Javed Khan, chief executive of Barnardo's, which has signed up to the covenant, said: "Sadly young people leaving care often struggle to gain good qualifications and get their foot on the career ladder. That's why Barnardo's is committed to offering high-quality work placements as well as specialist advice and support.
"We believe that all young people deserve the opportunity to follow their dreams. That's why our ambition is for care leavers to have the same life chances as other young people, including access to employment, education and training."
By Steve Elliff, Education and Support Service Manager (Yorkshire and East Midlands)
'We all know that many young people in care face barriers to succeeding in education. Indeed, this is why we have an Education and Support Service at Team Fostering. In addition to supporting young people with their education whilst they are with Team Fostering, we also encourage them to think about what their education might look like once they have left care.
In 2013, only 6% of care leavers in England accessed higher education, compared to approximately 40% of the general population.
We know that leaving care is a big change for any young person to overcome, and this life event often falls at the same time that young people are thinking about, or planning to go to, university. University is not the right pathway for everyone, but I would challenge every foster carer to at least sow the seed with their young person, as it could be something that is right for them, whether they embark on the journey now or later in life.
Some obvious barriers that limit the chance of going to university include failing exams, dropping out of college or leaving with lower grades than expected, but I've met care leavers who've gone to university who overcame these very situations. For example, some re-sat exams or completed Access to Higher Education courses, while others have completed voluntary work or other placements that have given them a different entry route.
The following support is also available:
Team Fostering staff and carers work extremely hard to provide the best opportunities for children and young people. This is why we think this is a conversation which is well worth having with all young people that are in care.'
St Christopher’s has co-hosted the first of two events with the Social Pedagogy Professional Association (SPPA) about how using social pedagogy in social care settings can improve the wellbeing of both the service users and the staff working there.
The event aimed to show how social pedagogic models were effective in addressing issues of low wellbeing in children and young people, adults in social care, and the workforce in the healthcare, social care and education sectors. Attendees included commissioners of children’s services, policy makers from the Department for Education and Home Office, partners we are working with through our transitions funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and St Christopher’s representatives.
St Christopher’s approach is shaped by social pedagogy’s ‘Head, Heart, Hands’ principles: the head represents the theories underpinning our practice; the heart stands for the relationships we build with children, young people, carers and partners; and the hands show how we empower young people by giving them the chance to make decisions on areas that affect their lives.
The session began with an overview of the ‘Social Pedagogy as a Resource for Government Wellbeing Policy’ paper about the overlap between the aims of government policy and the principles, values and practices of social pedagogy. Not long ago, social pedagogy was mentioned in government papers and formed a key part of their approach, but since then the term itself has been removed even if some of the key concepts remain as a recommendations.
Then there were short presentations on different topics from the following key speakers:
Running events like this supports St Christopher’s strategic commitment of improved emotional wellbeing for the children and young people we work with. By raising awareness of social pedagogy and showing commissioners and policy makers how successful it can be, we can be seen as experts in the field and promote our ways of working, with the aim of developing new services as social pedagogy becomes more known and understood.
Jonathan Whalley, Chief Executive, said: “St Christopher’s specialism in social pedagogy helps to set us apart from other providers of children’s services. Attending this seminar was a fantastic opportunity to hear more about social pedagogy from the experts, particularly in relation to wellbeing and how this differs to mental health. It was great to spread the word a little bit further.”
The Adolescent and Children’s Trust (TACT) is delighted that a project it initiated with The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust has been shortlisted in the Children and Young People Now Awards 2018. The Video-feedback Intervention to promote Positive Parenting and Sensitive Discipline (VIPP-SD) project has been nominated in the Mental Health and Wellbeing category alongside innovative mental health projects from across the UK.
VIPP-SD was originally developed by some of the world’s leading attachment researchers from Leiden University in Holland. VIPP-SD practitioners work primarily with caregivers and young children, using non-intrusive video technology to record visits and caregiver/child interaction. The practitioner can spend time studying reactions and pick up on signals and behaviours that could otherwise be missed in real time. The practitioner is trained to identify these often tiny clues and work with families to find effective solutions to any challenging behaviour or attachment issues, sharing the footage to illustrate specific points.
In 2014 TACT successfully submitted a bid, in conjunction with the Tavistock Trust, to the Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies (CVAA) to bring VIPP-SD to the UK, in order to increase adopters for harder to place children and develop an evidence-based post-adoption support intervention.
Since then 45 professionals have been trained in VIPP-SD, and as a result of completing the training, over 60 new families have received VIPP-SD. In addition, a VIPP Community of Practice (a shared learning forum) was launched in June 2018 for all UK trained practitioners, of which there are almost 50 members to date.
VIPP-SD has been shown via randomised control trials to be extremely effective with a variety of groups (under 5’s, adoptive parents, childcare for example) and its successes have been extensively reported in many peer reviewed journals.
Andy Elvin, CEO of TACT said: “TACT is proud that VIPP-SD has been shortlisted for such a prestigious award. It is testament to the highly innovative nature of the project, the excellent work of VIPP-SSD practitioners, and the positive impact it has had on the lives of adoptive families.”
Rachel James, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, co-lead for the National VIPP Unit said: ”We’re delighted to have our innovative work with video-feedback interventions recognised by the Children and Young People Now awards, and to be part of a strong field in the Mental Health and Well being category. It’s great to have this recognition not only for the project team, but also for our recently launched VIPP-SD Community of Practice and all our UK trained practitioners.”
The award winners will be announced on 21 November 2018.
Thanks to the 'Staying Close, Staying Connected' project.
At 18 years old, young care leavers prepare to make the transition from their children’s homes to independent adult living. This can be a scary time for most teenagers but with the help and support of ‘Staying Close, Staying Connected’, care leavers can look to the future with hope, knowing they no longer have to face life’s milestones alone.
‘Staying Close, Staying Connected’ is a pilot housing scheme and package of support delivered in partnership with regional children’s charity Break, and Cambridgeshire and Norfolk County Councils. The scheme has been made possible by a grant of 1.3 million awarded to Break by the Department for Education’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Fund.
On Friday 28 September, Break officially opened its first ‘Moving on House’ in Cambridge. The event was attended by senior managers from the Cambridgeshire Children and Young People’s Service, Trustees and members of the Break leadership team, as well as young people who are already part of the project and local partner representatives.
The home is already occupied by two of Break’s young care leavers and was officially opened by Councillor Simon Bywater of Cambridgeshire County Council. Simon, Chairman of the Children and Young Peoples Committee said, “I’m really pleased to open Thorleye Road. The house provides a vital stepping stone from residential care to independent living for young people leaving care in Cambridge. The Staying Close, Staying Connected project supports young people across Cambridgeshire and Norfolk helping them to develop life skills and fulfilling the role of an extended family for young care leavers, providing them with support as they make the transition into young adulthood.”
Rachel Cowdry, Break’s Director of Care and Development said “We know leaving home can be difficult at the best of times, and when a young person has been in care, it can be very challenging. This project, Staying Close, Staying Connected, aims to support young people on this journey. With our partners, including Cambridge City Council who have been very proactive in sourcing properties for us, we endeavour to walk alongside young people and ease the transition."
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.
The funding will pay for a pilot project in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire to test out effective ways to support children leaving care until March 2020.
Every October, The Fostering Network run an annual campaign to celebrate the month as Sons and Daughters month.
Last night, Team Fostering celebrated the start of the campaign at our Birth Children Support Group held in our Yorkshire and East Midlands office!
The group has been meeting regularly for the last year, established to give the birth children of our foster carers the skills and support they need for their role in the fostering family, while meeting with others who carry out the same role. The young people in the group have been able to share experiences with each other and offer suggestions to the others, with support from our Education and Support Service team.
To celebrate it being Sons and Daughters month, Team Fostering provided a take away of the group's choice (it was pizza!) and recognised their contribution to fostering and to the support group with a box of chocolates and an expression of gratitude from the agency.
The group meets four times and year, and is open to birth children up to the age of 18 as part of the all-round support we provide to foster carers and their families.
If you'd like to learn more about the support we offer, click here.
'The sons and daughters of foster carers play an essential role in welcoming fostered children into their families and ensuring successful fostering placements.
Many people say that the potential impact on their birth children is one of the major barriers to becoming a foster carer. The reality is that many children benefit from being part of the support network offered by a fostering family to a fostered child. Seeing life from another’s perspective can be an enriching experience and can help a child learn and develop as an individual.' - The Fostering Network 2018
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