Member News: Community Foster Care in the news - An increase in demand sees foster care charity move to bigger premises
Community Foster Care (CFC), has moved into larger premises so that they can accommodate an increase in demand for foster carers in West Cumbria.
The new space, which is located on Tarne Howe Building West on the Derwent Howe building estate in Workington, will allow the local team to meet the needs of more young people who need loving homes, as well as the foster carers who look after them.
“The decision to move reflects the need and our growth in West Cumbria,” said Emma Weaver, a Registered Manager for CFC. “Our ethos is to ensure that wherever we operate, we have small caseloads for our social workers and have strong, solid local support in place for all of our amazing carers.”
Community Foster Care’s new home will house a dedicated area for play sessions, as well as space for monthly carer support groups and regular training events.
Viv Gibson, CFC’s placement support worker in West Cumbria, said, “We want to be accessible to our carers and children, and we want to provide a warm family feel too. This new space has a wonderfully welcoming environment so people can pop in for coffee and have a chat.”
Currently, there are about 700 young people who are looked after in Cumbria. Around 160 of them are from Allerdale and 150 from Carlisle.
“When CFC was set up in 1989, we wanted to do things differently,” said Emma. “Our goal was to disrupt the status quo around foster care recruitment and provision.
We continuously challenge ideas about who can foster because we think it is so vital that children in care have the chance to stay in their local area with people from similar backgrounds. As a result, we work with a variety of carers, but we need more.”
In particular, CFC is looking for people who can look after sibling groups, older children, and parent and child placements. Specialist training is provided for all carers, along with access to monthly support groups, financial allowances, and regular consultations with a child psychotherapist.
Supervising Social Worker, Loren Hannah, said, “This move is so important on several levels. But one thing I’d say is if people want to find out more about fostering – just come along and see us – the kettle is always on.”
Member News: Barnardo's - Political leaders must solve social problems leaving children ‘scarred for life’
On the day of the next Election Debate, 140+ children’s organisations are calling on political leaders to set out their solutions to the social problems that can leave millions of children ‘scarred for life’, including child poverty, mental health, domestic abuse and serious youth violence.
In an open letter to all political parties, organisations including the National Children’s Bureau, NSPCC, Barnardo’s, Action For Children and The Children’s Society, say children are being ‘crowded out’ of the discussion of the nation’s future, leaving their needs overlooked and their voices unheard.
As party leaders set out their visions for the future, the letter urges them to put children at the heart of this election, and take action to prioritise them in the next Parliament.
There are nearly 14 million children living in the UK, of whom over four million live in poverty. A child is taken into care every 15 minutes and one in eight 5 to 19-year-olds have at least one mental health condition. The charities say the services vulnerable children such as these rely on are facing a ‘funding crisis’ as the number needing help continues to rise. The Children’s Commissioner for England estimates it will require £10bn of investment to turn this situation around and support our children to thrive.
The organisations insist children should be put at the front of the queue for increased funding. The letter calls on political parties to focus on preventing crises in the first place by providing early support for children and families, to prevent their problems spiralling out of control and requiring more expensive services later.
On the day of the second televised Election Debate, children and young people are raising their voices along with children’s charities, using the hashtag #IfIWerePM to share their priorities for Government.
Geraint (aged 18), a member of the National Children’s Bureau’s Young NCB, said:
“I like the idea of votes at 16, but there needs to be more education about politics for young people (and everyone else!). We need to learn about the parties, how to vote, and the issues. If I were prime minster, I would push for greater political education.”
Bilkis (aged 20), a young trustee for The Children’s Society said:
“If we start to put money towards a child’s early development and learning, as well as funding for youth engagement services and clubs - I believe there will be less gang related violence and anti-social behaviour in the community. Instead young people will be learning life skills, having fun and feel inspired to give back to the community.”
Gabby (aged 17), a young supporter of Action for Children, said:
“There needs to be more of a focus on the things that affect us like mental health. It seems like Brexit is all that is talked about now and we weren’t allowed to vote on that even though it’s going to massively affect us. Our views aren’t taken into account at all. A lot of politicians don’t understand the pressure we face and think we should just get on with it.”
Louise (aged 17), a member of Barnardo’s South East and Anglia Region Our Voice Youth Forum, said:
“I’m really passionate about the mental health care in this country and how restrictive it is. It needs improving so that early intervention can happen. I understand from a different perspective because I’ve been one of those individuals in care of CAMHS, which finishes when you are 18. That’s a major crisis point for lots of individuals like me.”
Fostering is an amazing role and one that can be incredibly rewarding, but it is certainly not without challenging times. As a foster carer you look after children and young people in your home as part of your family, and while our foster carers describe the experience of watching them grow as incredible, some of these children have come from traumatic backgrounds that impact their emotional wellbeing, behaviour and development.
For many, Christmas is an exciting time as children and adults alike look forward to time with loved ones, festive cheer, gifts and celebrations. Sometimes fostering a child who hasn’t experienced this before can give you the opportunity to introduce them to the many festivities of Christmas day, which can be exciting and fulfilling. However, it can be a difficult time for those who may not understand why they aren’t at home with their parents or who are overwhelmed by a festive buzz that they aren’t used to, stirring up a range of emotions that might be challenging for you to manage.
Where possible, speak with the child’s social worker about what Christmas meant for them before coming into your care. Was it celebrated at all? Were there religious elements to their Christmas? What about their experiences with gifts, Christmas food or other traditions? This isn’t to say that you’ll match their past experiences bit by bit, as there will be many whose previous neglect at Christmas (and throughout the year) will shock you, but it is useful to understand how different your own traditions may be, so that you can prepare to accommodate them and welcome them without overwhelming them.
Over the festive period you’re likely to have more guests in the home than usual or be out and about at the homes of friends and family. It might be worth, if possible and where you haven’t already, introducing the child or young person you’re looking after to many of these people ahead of festivities so that they aren’t overwhelmed with lots of new introductions in a short amount of time or in a small and busy space. Team Fostering’s foster carers also advise remembering to be patient and understanding. Recognise that when things don’t go to plan it’s not yours or the child’s fault, but a result of a lot of emotional challenges and past experiences that are often heightened at this time of year. Remember your support network, your fellow foster carers, supervising social worker and friends, and remember that you are entitled to support from your agency at any time of the year, day and night.
At Team Fostering our 24/7 support service runs throughout Christmas and the New Year so that foster carers are never without a local support worker to contact for help and guidance. Over December we host Christmas events that allow children and young people to celebrate with others in care and with similar backgrounds, where last year a child commented ‘the best part of today was knowing I was around people that were like me’.
We wish everyone the best over the festive season and look forward to spending some time with foster carers and young people.
Team Fostering is an independent, not-for-profit fostering agency that recruits and trains foster carers across the North East, Yorkshire and East Midlands. If you're interested in fostering we're here to answer any questions you have about the pay, support and training you will be given by us.
Reach us by:
calling 0800 292 2003
submitting an online enquiry by clicking here
Member News: Action for Children - Thirty years later, is it time to revisit the guiding principles of the Children Act?
Thirty years ago this month a critical piece of legislation received Royal Assent. The Children Act 1989 changed our approach to the way children in the UK are cared for and protected by making the welfare of the child paramount.
Children’s views and wishes must now be taken into account in any decision. Fundamentally, the Act viewed that children are best cared for in their own families, but it also put in place a system to protect children when at risk of harm. At the time, this marked a significant change of approach: children as simply needing protection, to individuals with their own rights.
This was a change that Action for Children welcomed. We provide many early help services supporting families to build healthy relationships and individual resilience, and we see the difference that this type of support can make in preventing issues from becoming more serious.
But while we should celebrate the achievements of the Act, we should also acknowledge that we have much further to go to fully realise the Act’s vision. Legislation is always implemented in a context; the context of the last decade has made achieving the original aims of the Act particularly challenging.
Under section 17, the Act states that local authorities should promote the welfare of any children whose development is at risk. This recognised in law the importance of services that support children, young people and families to promote long term wellbeing.
Over the last decade, available funding for local authority children’s services in England has decreased by £3 billion (29 per cent). Demand for children’s social care has increased, with significantly more children now on child protection plans and being taken into care. Intense pressures on local authorities have inevitably led them to prioritise more intensive statutory services, with early help support bearing the brunt of cuts. Social workers have said that their decisions are now being influenced by the lack of resources, meaning that some cases that would have previously received support under section 17 are less likely to.
This means that thirty years on, a key intention of the Children Act, to promote the welfare of children when there are early signs of a problem and to support families to help keep them together, is still not a reality. In effect, we are rationing the help we give some of our most vulnerable children.
Our ‘Revolving Door’ reports found that as many as 36,000 children who were referred to children’s social care in 2013/14 and did not receive it, were then referred again the following year. 23,000 were then found to be in need, suggesting early opportunities to provide help were missed. We also found that only one in four children who were assessed by social services as ‘no further action’ in 2015/16 were referred onto early help, leaving 140,000 without support. Without early help, problems go unresolved, and vulnerable children are left to suffer until crisis point is reached.
Thirty years on, we are therefore calling on the government to revisit the guiding principles of the Children Act and to re-balance the focus of policy around early intervention and prevention. To make the Act’s vision a reality, the next government must ensure local authorities have the resources to invest in high quality, evidence based early help. They must also introduce a statutory duty on local partners to provide early help, to ensure all children, young people and families get the timely support they need.
Head of Digital
Salary: £48,232 - £53,119
Closing Date: 27/11/2019
The Together Trust is a charity that supports people with disabilities, complex needs and autism and their families. Our services include a range of care, community and special education services for people with behavioural challenges, learning difficulties, physical disabilities, complex health needs and autism. We will celebrate our 150th anniversary in 2020 having supported thousands of young people and families since we were formed to support destitute young people in the centre of Manchester in 1870.
Our central office is based in Cheadle, Stockport and our services are mostly in and around Greater Manchester and the surrounding areas. We accept referrals from all over the UK.
We are looking for someone who has a successful track record in leading transformational change who can help us create mobile, accessible, digital services that people choose to use.Our aim is to broaden our impact through digital delivery, reaching and supporting more people than ever before in line with our 5 year plan.
We’ve recently created a digital roadmap which is the concluding document of a consultation with our staff, parents, carers and commissioners. We were helped by Reason Digital to complete this work and they continue to support our transformational plans.
Our values for transformation are:
The post holder will lead the transformation of our current systems to meet the needs of our internal and external stakeholders who include our workforce, commissioners, donors and the people we support.You will play a pivotal role in delivering excellent service, solving underlying problems and improving systems reliability and availability.
We work in collaboration with the people we support. Providing evidence to help to influence policymakers and make lasting societal change. If you think you are the right applicant for this role then we’d encourage you to apply.
For further details and application documents here
Ahead of next month’s General Election, the UK’s largest fostering and adoption charity The Adolescent and Children’s Trust (TACT), is calling on all Britain’s political parties to step up and make children in care, foster carers and care experienced young people an important part of their election promises.
To that end TACT has produced its own manifesto – Call to Action, a plan that we urge all parties include in their manifestos, to transform the life chances for children and young people in care.
TACT CEO Andy Elvin said: “TACT’s Call to Action highlights what government and local authorities should be doing to fulfil their responsibilities as corporate parents. Children and young people’s voices should always be heard in the design of policy for the care system. Unfortunately, far too often the state is not a good enough parent.”
Here are some of the actions we are calling for:
Automatic Delegated Authority for Foster Carers
Foster carers are experts on the children that they look after and should automatically have full delegated authority for all decisions about them unless there is a valid reason not to do so.
Foster Carers as personal advisors for their care experienced young people.
When young people have positive relationships with their foster carers, they should be given the option of having them as their personal adviser as a natural continuation of the foster carers’ role. This would enable foster carers and care experienced young people to continue their relationship with the financial support that will enable them to do this.
Waive or pay university tuition fees or offer a guaranteed apprenticeship for care experienced young people
Universities should guarantee undergraduate places for care experienced young people regardless of their age and financial support with a maintenance grant in place for living expenses and accommodation during term time, and outside of it.
Many young people will not wish to go to university and there should be a guaranteed apprenticeship for those care leavers. Local authorities and governmental agencies should also be offering appropriate employment opportunities.
More central government funding for Staying Put
‘Staying Put’ enables young people in foster care to remain with their carers until the age of 21. The future of ‘Staying Put’ is currently uncertain because funding is only secured until 2020/2021. Under funding and no guarantee of continuation to the scheme can leave carers unable to offer a continued home for their foster children when they reach 18.
Extend the current legislation prohibiting private for-profit companies from running child protection services to all of children social care services.
Private equity firms are increasingly present in the fostering market, buying and selling independent fostering agencies and making substantial gains in the process. More transparency and accountability is needed, with resources remaining within each provider to ensure a total focus on the needs of children and young people.
For the full Call to Action click here
Community Foster Care’s Rebecca Robson has won a top national award for her outstanding work as a social worker.
She clinched the honour at an awards ceremony run by The Fostering Network – the UK’s most prestigious foster care awards which shine the spotlight on those who make an exceptional contribution to the sector.
She was nominated by CFC foster carer Andrea Jones who said: “Rebecca is dedicated, caring and so very often goes way above and beyond any expectations of a social worker. She is an all-round fantastic example of a decent human being and exceptional social worker.”
The judges concluded that Rebecca, based in our Lancaster office, is an outstanding social worker in how she exceeds expectations time and again. For example, when a child was in hospital, she sent the carer home to get some much-needed rest and sat in hospital with the child until almost midnight. The next evening, on her day off, Rebecca returned to offer support and stayed until 3am.
Rebecca also takes time to consider the feelings of the birth children of foster carers, sometimes taking them out to give them an opportunity to talk about how things are going.
Even when off duty, Rebecca keeps her phone on and will answer if you need her. She is there for every support group, training day, day out and fostering event.
CFC CEO, Mark Kingston, said: “We are enormously proud of Rebecca. She is an outstanding social worker who emulates the charity’s values. She really does go way above and beyond any expectations we might have of her.”
Rebecca has been a social worker with CFC since 2018. She previously worked in the child protection and court team in Cumbria and Lancashire.
The Fostering Network’s Fostering Excellence Awards ceremony took place in London on 23 October.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said: “Social workers play such an important role in foster care and particularly in the lives of those in care. That’s why it is so encouraging to meet social workers like Rebecca who are totally dedicated to their role, foster carers and young people. Rebecca’s commitment to helping carers and young people in times of difficulty is a real credit to her and exemplifies the impact she has had everyone she has worked with.”
He is pledging to fundraise £50,000 for Barnardo’s as part of a new appeal to help support care leavers, the children’s charity announced today.
Lennie, best known for his roles in Line of Duty and The Walking Dead, is becoming Barnardo’s first Ambassador to help represent children who are in and leaving care.
The actor went into care aged 10, along with his older brother, when their mother died. They spent time in a children’s home and were later fostered, growing up in Tooting, South London.
The star, who appeared in movies Snatch and Blade Runner 2049, is currently in the UK filming the second series of smash hit gritty drama series Save Me 2 in South East London. He took time out today to visit Barnardo’s YouthBuild Academy in Lewisham, where he met care leavers learning construction skills.
This evening Lennie will be talking about his life and explaining the reasons for becoming an Ambassador at an ‘In Conversation With’ event at the Bvlgari Hotel in Knightsbridge.
Barnardo’s is about to launch an ambitious fundraising campaign, aiming to raise funds over the next three years to support young people leaving care. Lennie and his wife Giselle have chosen to support the campaign by setting up their own fund named after Lennie’s birth and foster mums Phyllis and Pam which will aim to raise £50,000 in its first year for Barnardo’s Positive Futures appeal.
“I’m honoured to become Barnardo’s first Children In and Leaving Care Ambassador.
“The fear and vulnerability of going into care is etched in my memory. What made the difference was the support of those who looked after me and helped shape who I am today. Without doubt care leavers have challenges to overcome, but a child’s future doesn’t have to be defined by their past.
“I was lucky to become an actor - if children have a stable and loving experience while in care, and then get the right support when they leave the system, they can go on to achieve and have fulfilling lives. I passionately believe this, which is why I am looking forward to highlighting and supporting the work of Barnardo’s. My fund is named after my mother Phyllis and my foster mother Pam. In different ways they both gave me life.”
Care leaver Callum Nicholas , 20, from Beckenham, said:
“It was great to meet Lennie. YouthBuild Academy has been a brilliant programme for me, my colleagues and for the community in my local area. It’s been great that Barnardo’s has provided this opportunity. As a young person who has grown up in care, I know it’s not always easy to access education and training, which is why YouthBuild Academy can make such a big difference.”
Currently around 10,000 children leave the care system every year without the support that most young people take for granted, such as advice, emotional and financial support from parents and a family home. In total there are around 40,000 care leavers aged 17-21 in the UK.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:
“Young people leaving the care system have often experienced trauma such as bereavement, neglect or abuse, and many face additional challenges when it comes to education, employment and training. These vulnerable young people are also at greater risk of poverty and homelessness, and are more likely to struggle with isolation and mental health issues.
“At Barnardo’s we believe that with the right support all young people can achieve a positive future. But we rely on the generosity of supporters like Lennie and Giselle so we can provide the services care leavers need. We are delighted to welcome Lennie on board as a Barnardo’s Ambassador, and look forward to working with him to raise awareness of this important issue.”
If you’d like to support Lennie’s work with Barnardo’s you can make a donation towards his fund here.
Fostered children are being prevented from staying in touch with some of the most important people in their lives, according to a new report from the UK’s leading fostering charity.
Not Forgotten: The importance of keeping in touch with former foster carers, published today by The Fostering Network, reveals that despite the recognition of the importance of relationships in the lives of children in foster care, more than half of foster carers feel they have no support in maintaining relationships with the children and young people who have moved on from their care; and one in four have been actively prevented from keeping in touch, most frequently by the local authority/trust, fostering service or adoptive parents.
Among the report’s recommendations is a call for local authorities and trusts to support and encourage contact between children and their former foster carers and other significant people in their lives.
Chief executive of The Fostering Network, Kevin Williams, said: ‘It’s especially important to prioritise relationships in foster care because it is common for fostered children to move homes, for example to other foster carers, adoptive families or wider family members, or to return home. But our report shows that all too often their contact with the former foster family – who they may have lived with for many years – is cut off immediately.
‘Relationships are the golden threads that run through children’s lives. A support network of people who know a child well helps them to feel loved, develop a strong sense of self and maintain healthy relationships in the future.
'An approach that too often, without reason, ends children’s important relationships is one that is not fit for purpose.’
The report highlights that the outdated theory – stating that bonds between children and their carers can only be formed one at a time, and that children should therefore break ties with their former foster family in order to bond with others – is still being used to make decisions about ongoing relationships. Research now suggests that such an approach is damaging and that having a close bond with an adult makes it easier for a child to form future bonds which aids their development and improves their wellbeing.
The report also emphasises that stable ongoing relationships are particularly crucial for children in care who may have faced instability. Tommy’s foster carer, featured in the report, was prevented from seeing him when he moved to another foster family which she says has ‘irreparably damaged’ their relationship. She says: ‘It breaks my heart that I’m being stopped from giving this little boy experiences and showing him that he is still loved.’
Williams said: ‘Having these relationships severed can leave children and young people with a sense of loss and compound previous instances of perceived rejection.
‘Ending these relationships also affects the fostering family, who may have lived with the children for many months or years. As well as feeling loss, foster carers and their families may also experience profound guilt that the child feels abandoned or forgotten by them.
‘This is why we are calling for it to become the expectation that the relationship between children and their former foster families, as well as other significant people in the lives of children, will be supported and encouraged.’
The Not Forgotten report is part of The Fostering Network’s Keep Connected campaign.
Salary: £40,500 pa + £1,500 Out of Hours Allowance
Closing Date: 02/12/2019
Interview Date: 10/12/2019
Hours: 35 Hours Per Week
Permanent - Full Time 35 Hours Per Week
Office Based - Kettering
TACT, the UK’s largest fostering and adoption charity now has over 500 dedicated carers, who look after over 600 children and young people across the country. Our reputation and growth rests upon our strength in providing successful placements. As a charity, we do not have shareholders who receive profits and we invest all of our surplus income into service, staff, carers, and children’s development.
The TACT East Midlands service currently seeks an enthusiastic Fostering Deputy Area Manager who is committed to ensuring that the children we care for meet their full potential. The successful candidate will bring experience of working with children and young people in a statutory setting, and a management qualification, to the Fostering Deputy Area Manager role.
The Deputy Area Manager's core duties will include:
The Fostering Deputy Area Manager must be HPCP registered and have a DipSW, CSS or CQSW qualification. An enhanced DBS check is required for this post and will be undertaken by TACT on your behalf. The use of a car is essential.
TACT offer an excellent benefits package including:
Please see the Deputy Area Manager job description and applicant information booklet for full details.
Closing: Midnight on Monday 2nd December 2019
Interviews: Tuesday 10th December 2019
TACT reserve the right to close the vacancy once we have received sufficient applications, so we advise you to submit your application as early as possible to prevent disappointment.
Full details and application documents here
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