By Jane Butler, Chief Executive Officer
First of all, I’d like to wish everyone a happy new year!
This was my second year in post at Team Fostering, and 2018 was a busy and exciting year for the agency.
In 2018 we opened a new office in South Normanton, appointed a non-executive director with first-hand experience as a foster carer and recruited a number of new foster carers across the North East, Yorkshire and East Midlands. The entire agency was inspected by Ofsted with our Yorkshire and East Midlands office achieving a ‘Good’ rating with ‘Outstanding’ elements, and our North East office achieving ‘Outstanding’ in all areas. This meant our North East office has achieved an ‘Outstanding’ in Ofsted reports for over 11 years now, since their current grading system began! As always our children and young people attended some fantastic activities arranged by our Education and Support Service, and we celebrated their own achievements at our two Celebration of Achievement Awards Ceremonies. The agency launched a new psychological support service in partnership with a clinical psychologist, renewed its membership to New Family Social and celebrated our very own Douglas Shearer receiving his MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2018.
This January, Team Fostering is running a campaign to showcase the not-for-profit status of the agency, with a look at how this impacts our children and young people, staff and foster carers. Some of the above achievements may not have been possible without the ethical values of the agency that ensure surplus made is reinvested into the services which are provided to foster carers and our children and young people. Our mission statement is ‘Putting Children’s Futures First,’ and we are a proud member of The Fairer Fostering Partnership, a group of agencies that each operate as charities or social enterprises to ensure that children come before profit. Over the course of the month we’ll be celebrating some of our achievements and the history of Team Fostering, speaking with those who have been at the agency since day 1 and sharing why our carers and staff value our ethical status.
If you’re considering fostering, I would recommend thinking about how working for a not-for-profit agency might be right for you. Keep your eyes peeled over the course of the month for further details and, of course, if you have any questions you can reach us on 0800 292 2003.
With very best wishes to each and every one of you for 2019!
Catherine lives in Sheffield and has been with Team Fostering as a single foster carer since 2015.
"I'd always thought about becoming a foster carer and then circumstances fell into place which offered the right time to take that leap and follow my dream.
I’ve been fostering with Team Fostering since 2015 and it hasn’t always been easy, especially as a single carer. However, the longer I’m in the role the more relaxed and happy I have become with my life overall. The advantages and sense of achievement you get fostering children outweighs any stressful moments you might encounter. Making a difference to the lives of young people is incredible.
Seeing a child change and become more confident in front of your eyes, especially when you know this is largely due to the care you’ve provided them with, is very rewarding. It doesn’t happen overnight and once you accept that it’s all part of a journey it becomes easier to go with the flow and take each moment as it comes.
If you are thinking about fostering, Team Fostering offers a huge amount of support and training. Their assessment gives you a real overview of what life will be like as a foster carer. Working with Team Fostering is great. It’s a caring and supportive organisation, one I really believe has children and foster carers as their top priority. They go above and beyond when you need support in hard times, and they’re fun!
Listen to other foster carers at the agency that you meet – they are supportive and have a wealth of knowledge and experience."
- an account from Catherine, a Team Fostering Foster Carer, published December 2018
Team Fostering is a not-for-profit agency, which means we can invest all of our resources into putting children’s futures first. We operate across the North East, Yorkshire and East Midlands, with a team of amazing foster carers and staff. If you’d like to join us and become one of our foster carers, we would love to hear from you, whether you’ve fostered before or even if you’re completely new to the role.
Contact us today to learn more:
Call our Recruitment Administrator, Sam, on 0800 292 2003
Send an online enquiry by clicking here
Email us via firstname.lastname@example.org
It had been three months since entering the care system and it’s nothing like I would have expected. The carers had asked what I would like for Christmas and this began the start of my yearly ritual of scouring the Argos catalogue looking for the items I would include on my Christmas list. I was ecstatic but, in the months prior we had gone ‘toys r us’, so my room was littered with all different gadgets and gizmos. What more could I possibly need? I felt very happy to be in this Foster placement and it had started to feel like it was my own room. It felt safe.
For someone who used to have nothing, I felt like I had everything. Although there was one gift I had longed for from since I can remember. I wanted a Nintendo DS all of my own. I can remember from years ago all the other kids at school brandishing their own DS’s and I own only owned the fictitious claim to one. It was horrible and I resented them for having stuff that I did not. It made me feel like a liar when I only wanted to save face for Christmas and birthdays, this was very wrong of me and I was taught better.
The week coming up to Christmas everyone at school had spoken about all the stuff they would get for their parent and I never had a second thought when saying I was buying made up gifts for my mom. Looking back, I realise now that I would have not wanted to buy her one. I had now seen what it really meant to be cared for and I didn’t want to be back in that environment ever again.
Christmas Eve could not have gone any slower. I don’t think I have ever wanted to miss out on a take away before but instead I opted to go to bed early and miss out on the Chinese. I would have never passed up the opportunity of take away with my mom because they were very rare, but the foster carers cooking was phenomenal, so takeaway wasn’t as exciting and it wasn’t as big of a treat.
Before I could race off to bed the foster carer handed me a large gift, but I had to open it in the living room with my other siblings. This made me very excited as I had never before had the opportunity to open a present on Christmas Eve and had always had to wait until December 25th. We all sat shoulder to shoulder on the big sofa and before our eyes this present laid before us. My older brother took charge and unboxed a metal tin which held some certificates. It was a star naming set and they purchased on our behalf of in memory of a close person in our lives who had passed away recently. I was brought to tears as even though we had known each other for a few months they really cared and considered us and our family as their own. I thanked them and gave them a hug and we all cried together. I loved them for this. I couldn’t have thought of anything I would have ever wanted more than this – it was the best present ever.
Exhausted, I finally made my way to my bed and for once in my life I was able to get to sleep quite quickly on Christmas Eve. This was my bed now and after all the stuff we had done during my short stay with the foster carers I had begun to realise they were great parents considering we were the first kids they had looked after. I nodded off excited for what tomorrow would bring… Christmas was so close!
Story by Iddi Cayman – CFT Apprentice and Care Leaver
TACT have filed their financial results for 2017/18 with the Charity Commission and Companies House. In 2017/18 TACT made a significant investment in their services for vulnerable children. Read more here:
As the UK’s largest fostering and adoption charity, The Adolescent and Children’s Trust (TACT), sees it as integral to our charitable mission to be at the forefront of innovation in the children’s care sector.
With this ethos in mind, the 2017/18 Financial Year has seen us invest in growing our footprint in the UK and pioneering the delivery of new models for permanency services. The most visible of these was our successful bid for the Peterborough City Council (PCC) permanency service and our takeover of the service in April 2017.
Being a charity has allowed TACT to take a long-term view on this investment, over £1.6 million, with a clear expectation that over the lifetime of this 10-year (and potentially 20-year) contract we will achieve a break-even situation, and position TACT as the partner of choice for other Local Authorities looking for innovative solutions in the delivery and improvement of permanency services.
The children in our care are already seeing the benefit of this investment, with the feedback from the children, the carers and the staff being extremely positive. The improvement has also been noted by Ofsted, who in their recent ILACS inspection of PCCs children services (including our service), gave the Council their first “Good across all areas” rating in Peterborough’s history. Justifying our vision for the standards of care for looked after children and young people, and our investment in the front end of this contract.
Alongside this, we have continued to invest in geographical growth across our pre-existing fostering services across England, Scotland and Wales. As in all such ventures the first years are investment years, which will lead to growth and a return in the coming years.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t been all good news in 2017/18, we have reviewed our property portfolio and determined that it is no longer fit for purpose, we will be disposing of a number of our legacy properties in 2018/19 and investing in new space that will allow us to deliver services in a more appropriate environment. This process has also identified that the valuations of the properties in the portfolio need to be adjusted down by £595,000 in our accounts for 2017/18.
The broader market in which TACT exists, is now rife with private equity investment and leveraged debt. We are in the fortunate position of having been the first one to take on a whole local authority permanence service, and to have a widening and deepening geographic presence in England, Scotland and Wales.
As a charity, we seek to offer high quality affordable services to local authorities, through the provision of safe and stable foster and adoptive homes. 2017/18 was an exciting and expensive year for TACT but one that we are confident will pay off for our foster, adoptive and kinship children and families – and TACT – in the medium and long term.
In 2018/19, our expectation is that we will move towards breaking even financially, with the positive impact from our investment showing from the 2019/20 financial period.
Staff and members of the public were invited to pop into one of the Hays Travel branches to donate new toys, gift sets, toiletries, household goods, stationery items and books.
It was the firm’s sixth annual Santa’s Sleigh appeal to help vulnerable children, young people and families supported by the charity across East Anglia.
Break’s CEO, Hilary Richards said: “It is overwhelming to see so many kind gifts and toys donated. These gifts will be wrapped and given to so many deserving families, children and young people who have moved on from care.”
Branch manager of Hays Travel Aylsham and appeal coordinator, Jo Dobbie said: “All of us at Hays Travel are so appreciative of everyone who supported us with this appeal and would like to say thank you.”
Community Foster Care is pleased to have achieved an overall ‘Good’ rating from Ofsted for our teams in both the North and South.
Ofsted Social Care Inspectors concluded that CFC provides “high-quality, consistent foster care [which] helps children and young people to feel confident and valued”.
They listed an impressive list of strong points:
Our foster carers were praised as “highly-skilled and experienced... extremely dedicated and committed.”
We pride ourselves on the quality of care and support we provide and it’s good to see that recognised by Ofsted.
View full Ofsted report for our North Office.
View full Ofsted report for our South Office.
We are so excited to announce that Voices, our creative writing competition for children in care and young care leavers is back for 2019 and we are open for all your incredible entries until midnight on 10 February 2019.
Find out how to enter Voices 2019 here
Voices national writing competition
If you are a child or young person up to 25 years old and have experience of the care system, our annual creative writing competition is for you. It's designed to promote a positive image by showcasing young people’s creativity and improving understanding of their experiences.
The theme for 2019's competition is 'Growing up' and you could win a tablet device and up to £100 in shopping vouchers. Shortlisted entries are also showcased on a special app featuring writing from children in care.
Read our Voices 2018 winners and shortlisted entries here
Watch videos featuring previous winners of our Voices competitions
Want to know more?
Read our Voices Privacy Notice
Sign up to our Voices newsletter for updates and discover more about the competition.
Local authority children's services departments and schools must increase their focus on educational outcomes of looked-after children, the government has said.
An interim report of a government review on the issue concludes that poor educational outcomes for children in need are not inevitable, but agencies supporting them are not ambitious enough.
"Our findings through the review so far, provide an assessment of why the educational outcomes of children in need are so poor, and what is needed to improve them," the report states.
"Without delay, the leaders and practitioners who work with children in need - in schools, social care, early help, health, police, and beyond - can start to put these findings into practice.
"This is not a change in direction, but an injection of aspiration; safety will always come first but is not an end goal."
The report contains findings on how professionals who work with vulnerable children can better identify children in need, understand the impact of traumatic experiences, and what schools and children's services can do to help them achieve more educationally.
The government plans to support professionals to do this by producing more evidence on what methods work when trying to improve educational outcomes for children in need.
Part of this will come from an already announced pilot project being managed by the What Works Centre for Children's Social Care, involving the co-location of social workers in schools from spring 2019.
It has also asked the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) to analyse its existing evidence to assess the impact of interventions for children in need from the start of next year.
The DfE said results from another EEF scheme - the Home Learning Environment trials in the North of England - should also be available from autumn 2019.
And the government has committed to expanding its longitudinal dataset and analysing how child, family and school level factors make a difference to outcomes over time.
DfE statistics show that attainment for looked-after children is much lower than for non-looked after children. However, it is slightly higher than the attainment of children in need.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: "There is no reason why we should have a lower aspiration for a child in need of help or protection than we do for their peers.
"Whether it is making sure a child has a consistent and trusted member of staff or taking the time to speak to a child the morning after they have witnessed domestic abuse, I hope this practical advice can help those leaders in schools and social care, alongside our hardworking teachers and social workers, understand how we can collectively do to more to support these children."
Sam Royston, director of policy and research at The Children's Society, said that while addressing the challenges children in need faced in education is important, the government also needed to help councils support young people's health, housing, employment and safeguarding needs, as well as consider extending key services to the age of 25.
"Vulnerable young people who have had difficult childhoods need better help as they prepare for adult life and too often, the help they do get falls away when they turn 18 - even though their difficulties do not," said Royston.
"It is crucial that the government also looks at what support children in need require beyond the school gates."
The charity also wants the government to consider making the pupil premium available for all children in need.
Plans to increase support for children in care featured in the Conservative Party manifesto for the June 2017 snap general election. The findings in the report were based on evidence submitted in March by more than 600 school and social care professionals.
Parent and Child Fostering is a specialist type of fostering where a parent and their birth child are looked after by a foster carer.
The aim of this is to provide support and guidance to the parent, usually the mother, so that they may eventually provide independent care for their child.
Parent and Child Fostering is an alternative to putting young parents in residential units and helps to provide the support they need at the early stages of their relationship.
Without this support, these relationships can often break down and lead to separation of the parent from their child.
The Benefits of Parent and Child Fostering
A foster carer can help with the development of a crucial bond between the parent and child at an important stage in the child’s life. This can be extremely rewarding for the foster carer, who is able to see the attachment and bond grow first-hand. The support given by the foster carer while they look after the family provides the parent with an insight into the lifelong parenting skills required for them to look after their child independently.
Providing this support in a stable environment helps the parent to focus on looking after their child and provides them with vital resources they wouldn’t have access to elsewhere.
In turn, the child benefits from the extra support received by the parent, giving them the best start in life.
Fostering a Parent and Child can be challenging but is a very rewarding experience. At Team Fostering this type of fostering is considered as a specialist role and so is supported with specialist one-to-one support, training and higher fees than some other types of fostering.
As a foster carer with us, you will be:
Our foster carers...
Read our eligibility criteria for fostering with cby clicking here.
Team Fostering is a not-for-profit fostering agency operating across the North East, Yorkshire and East Midlands.
We have strong, ethical values and behaviours and continually look to welcome new foster carers to the team.
If you're interested in learning more about fostering, you can get in touch in one of the following ways:
call us on 0800 292 2003
send an online enquiry by clicking here
email us via email@example.com
One of St Christopher’s strategic commitments for 2018-2023 is to promote lifelong learning and thriving for young people. Part of this is about creating co-produced pathways to independence using young people’s expertise, that can be tailored to an individual’s needs. We are achieving this through a number of ways, such as through our grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. Through this project, we are supporting young people in our children’s homes and foster homes to explore what their future may look like when they leave care.
But how can we expect our young people to prepare for this change if they are don’t know what their options are?
Lewis lives at one of our children’s homes. With help from his key worker, he has been thinking about preparing for independence – but as neither of them had visited a 16+ home before, they weren’t quite sure what “independence” looked like.
So a member of staff from our life skills team, a post which is funded by Esmée Fairbairn, arranged for Lewis and his key worker to visit a St Christopher’s 16+ home in another part of the country. They spent the day looking at the accommodation and speaking to staff about how things work in the home.
A few days later, Lewis and his key worker had time to reflect on the experience. Lewis said he now felt “less anxious” about moving onto independence because he had a better understanding of what it would be like. He has thought about the areas he might struggle with and told his key worker about the specific things that will help him so that they can support him in the right way. Now, he will be more prepared for moving on from his children’s home.
The next step for the transitions project is to make links in the local areas so that young people can visit other homes to learn about the practical side of independence. And because St Christopher’s offers a variety of services, there are lots more opportunities for young people to learn about their options for leaving care.
Thank you to the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for making this work possible.
Would you like to support our transitions work? Find out how your fundraising makes a difference to children in care.
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