Location: Humberside/East Yorkshire and South Yorkshire
Hours: Permanent, Full-Time (working 37 hours a week)
Salary: Circa £34,000
Closing Date: 14 October 2018
How we work:
Action for Children does what's right, does what's needed and does what works for children in the UK. Every year, our team changes the lives of 370,000 children, young people and families.
We assess, train and support Foster Carers to provide stable family homes to young people who have survived trauma so a therapeutic approach is a vital part of our work. We are looking for 2 Fostering Social Workers to join our Stability Team supporting Foster Carers. The first post would suit an experienced fostering practitioner but the other would be suitable for an experienced social worker with transferable skills. 1 post is to cover the Humberside and East Yorkshire area and the other to cover South Yorkshire.
How you'll make a difference:
By supporting carers with the daily and hourly challenges and rewards of caring for troubled young people and children;
By working imaginatively and energetically with other professionals in schools, local authorities and others to ensure children's voices are heard and their best possible outcomes achieved;
By delivering excellent, evidence-informed and therapeutic practice as a member of a skilled and motivated team;
By participating a culture of learning and continuing professional development for carers and staff.
What you'll need:
In return we'll offer you the rewards of a competitive salary and benefits package, ongoing continuous professional development, and participation in motivated, therapeutically-led services judged Good or Outstanding by Ofsted.
For more information on this opportunity please contact Moni Ali on 07741 742249 or email her at Moni.Ali@actionforchildren.org.uk quoting reference 0280.
Action for Children is passionate about promoting equality, valuing diversity and working inclusively. We welcome applications from all suitably qualified persons particularly people with Disabilities and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic applicants, as these groups are currently under-represented in our workforce.
More details and application documents are available here
At Action for Children, we are pleased to welcome our new CEO, Julie Bentley.
Julie joins us after 6 years as chief executive of the charity GirlGuiding UK.
"Action for Children works with some of the most disadvantaged children and young people in our society," she said. "Its work is crucial and it will be an honour to join the trustees, staff and volunteers to take the charity forward."
"I am passionate about children and young people reaching their potential and young people have always featured heavily in my career. It is clear that Action for Children makes a real and meaningful difference to the lives of those you support and that as a result their life chances, quality of life and well-being are improved."
John O’ Brien, chair of Action for Children, said: “Julie Bentley is a fantastic appointment. She will bring with her much valued experience and skills. Action for Children is proud to have her on board to help transform the lives of disadvantaged children across the UK. I know she will help us to make a huge difference to the lives of the children, young people and families we support.”
Leading children’s charity Action for Children responds to Fostering Better Outcomes: Government Response to the House of Commons Education Select Committee report into fostering and foster care in England.
Imran Hussain, director of policy and research at Action for Children, said: “Today’s report makes clear the government believes children’s needs and views should be the driving force behind all decisions made about their care. What’s missing is a clear sense on how that change is going to be delivered.
“While the mood music in today’s report is spot on and shows officials and ministers have the right instincts on key issues, without a clear delivery plan and commitment to funding, these aspirations can’t become a reality.
“With council budgets already at breaking point, local authorities simply cannot offer young people the programmes they need without a firm promise of government funds. Looking after the most vulnerable children in the country is a national responsibility and must also be a national priority in public spending, otherwise we risk failing those who need our help the most.
“We very much welcome the fact that the minister has listened to concerns raised by ourselves and others and is keeping the Independent Reviewing Officer, a vital safeguard in the system which helps ensure the concerns of children in care are heard and listened to by the care system.”
A group of child welfare professionals writes to demand that the children’s minister, Robert Goodwill, extends the offer of extra free childcare to foster carers
Children aged three and four across England are now entitled to an extra 15 hours of free childcare each week, with the exception of fostered children who have been explicitly and inexplicably excluded. We are calling on the children’s minister, Robert Goodwill, to urge him to reverse this discriminatory decision with immediate effect.
Fostered children must have access to the same opportunities as other children. Moreover, foster carers are, as a group, unpaid or underpaid and often cannot rely on their fostering income. They may therefore benefit from this extra childcare, especially those who foster members of their family and those providing long-term care.
Carol Iddon Manager director, children’s services, Action for Children
Natasha Finlayson Chief executive, Become
Maris Stratulis England manager, British Association of Social Workers
David Graham National director, The Care Leavers’ Association
Kathy Evans Chief executive, Children England
John Simmonds Director, Policy, Research and Development, Coram BAAF
Brigid Robinson Managing director, Coram Voice
Kevin Williams Chief executive, The Fostering Network
Jon Fayle and Paul Smart Co-chairs, National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers
Rita Waters CEO, National Youth Advocacy Service
Andy Elvin CEO, Tact
Jill Sheldrake Service director, The Together Trust
Ron Giddens CEO, St Christopher’s
FFP Member News: Action for Children - Care Review urged to consider recommendations of leading children’s charity
A year on from the announcement of an independent review into Scotland’s care system, Action for Children is asking the review to consider four recommendations in a newly published report that includes extensive feedback from care experienced young people in Scotland.
‘Scotland’s Care System: Achieving Life Goals and Ambitions’ report was launched at this year’s SNP conference. Its publication is 12 months on from when the review was announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during her leader’s speech at the SNP’s 2016 conference. The research is based on the views of almost 500 young people in the care system who are supported by Action for Children in Scotland.
Paul Carberry, Director of Action for Children in Scotland, said: “The independent review of Scotland’s care system is a huge opportunity to address any parts of the system that are failing our young people. In our report, we have looked at what care experienced children and young people have told us.
"Care experienced young people have told us repeatedly what needs to change. They want a system that allows them to develop positive and appropriate relationships with all those involved in their lives. They want people and systems around them that treat them with respect so that they can turn to them in times of need. They want to receive support at ‘transitional’ moments in their care journey. It is vital to get the balance right between having independence and receiving support."
Paul Carberry, Director of Action for Children in Scotland
“Now, more needs to be done to ensure that all the existing laws, policies, strategies, guidance, programmes and initiatives that have been committed to are fully implemented and delivered. The care system must evolve, in design and practice, with what young people, professionals and carers who live and work in it believe is needed.
“The Independent Review of Scotland’s Care System now has the opportunity to do this and make a real difference for children and young people in care.”
Brad Ritchie is one of the care experienced young people who fed into our report. Brad is 21 and was born in Irvine. At the age of nine, he was separated from his three siblings after family breakdown.
Although Brad spent more than three years in that placement, it was with a foster family who weren’t able to commit to long-term care beyond that point. “I felt anxious when I first left this placement and I became withdrawn,” said Brad. “I still don’t like meeting new people. Deep down I now expect people to abandon me and I find it hard to trust people.”
Brad was fortunate enough to have the support of a throughcare worker although that didn’t mean moving placements didn’t have an effect on him.
Brad said: “I felt nervous, worried about change, and getting used to new surroundings made me scared. I also worried too if I would fit into their family as they already had children and I might have been treated differently. This was first placement where I would be on my own as my sister had been moved on to a different placement during our stay with the first foster carer.”
Fortunately, though, his second carer, had a hugely positive impact on Brad. “I found my second foster carer Sarah to be very helpful. She encouraged me to keep in touch with my siblings, which was very important to me, as they had been accommodated with other foster placements.”
Brad left care at 18 years of age, and was placed in a supported homeless hostel. Brad stayed there for 2 years before he was allocated his own tenancy from West Lothian Council and referred to Action for Children for help with independent living.
Owing to being in care, Brad lacked experience of budgeting properly as his bills were paid for him and his food supplied. With help from Action for Children, Brad was able to develop the skills to manage his own tenancy. This included providing money skills training and help to navigate the benefits system. .
Action for Children also supported Brad to address underlying mental health issues that were causing him concern which he had not previously sought help for. Service staff supported Brad to take part in a social anxieties group. He was also referred to the Adventure Trust and attended an eight-week wilderness trip with them, which helped him to become more confident. Staff helped to access professional support for his mental health issues and he now attends his GP as required.
“My support worker has advised where I can access support, where that may be the drop in Action for Children, or I can call them at any time for advice,” said Brad. “They have also signposted other local agencies that can help me, like the local advice shop.”
Although in a much better place now, Brad still recognises the frustrations caused by some of the failings within the care system.
“I think the local authority could have helped me more when I left my foster carer,” said Brad. “I had to present as homeless, and I had no idea where to access the support, that was available.”
When pressed on what frustrated or annoyed him about the care system: “Not being with my brothers and sister,” said Brad. “At first, I didn’t like the rules, as I never had any before going into care but I learned these were for my own good,” Brad went on to say. “It annoyed and frustrated me that I didn’t know how to manage a tenancy, and I had no idea what I was doing. I was frustrated, as it took so long to find me a long-term foster placement.”
A few years on, Brad successfully manages his own tenancy in West Lothian and recently started a full-time child care course at the local college. He also supports others in the group, by talking about his experience of making the transition from care leaver, to homelessness, to successfully managing independent living. He is hopeful for the future. “I hope to continue at college or university, and train to work with kids, who may have been in care,” said Brad.
About the Review
The full report can be downloaded here
A total of 824 people in the care system are supported by Action for Children and were asked their views on what worked, what didn’t as well as their hopes and aspirations as part of the research. A total of 471 people responded and shared their views.
Today is a landmark day for the provision of foster care in Wales. The three biggest charitable providers of foster care – TACT, Action for Children and Barnardo’s, have come together to launch a new initiative that will improve outcomes for children in care.
Under the name of ‘The Charitable Fostering Partnership‘ the organisations involved are committed to working together to tackle the big issues that the sector are facing in Wales, including the increasing dominance of the ‘for profit’ sector in foster care.
A special launch event will be taking place today from 12.30pm at the National Assembly of Wales with support from prominent figures within the Welsh Government and Local Authorities.TACT, Action for Children and Barnardos will be presenting the aims of the new partnership.
Watch the full event live here
The Commissioner for Wales – Sally Holland, has given her backing to a consortium of leading Welsh charities established to improve collaborative working and raise the profile of the charitable fostering sector in Wales.
In a supporting statement Sally Holland said:
“I’m delighted to hear that Barnardo’s, Action for Children and TACT will be working more closely together, and pleased to note their desire to work in collaboration rather than competition to provide the best provision in foster care.
We are entering new territory in Wales with a National Fostering Framework and I know that the third sector will work in collaboration with local and national government to develop an enhanced foster care sector in Wales.
Young people have talked to me about their concerns about profit being made out of their care. I’m therefore particularly pleased to support a desire to reduce or eliminate for-profit provision in foster services. I am also pleased that the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee are looking into quality and value in looked after children’s services and I will be encouraging them to look at issues of profit in this sector.”
The views of more than 200 young people with experience of Scotland’s care system were presented to the Scottish First Minister, the Right Honourable Nicola Sturgeon MSP at a special event in Edinburgh.
She talked with 50 young people in person and then received boxes of postcards with the views of other young people supported by us.
The event is part of a series which will allow the First Minister to hear from 1,000 looked after young Scots. This will feed into the Scottish Government’s “root and branch” review of the country’s care system.
"We support upwards of 800 young Scots who have been through the care system and their views are crucial to this review. They are the experts on the system and have seen first-hand the parts which worked while also experiencing the parts which have let them down."
Paul Carberry, Director of Action for Children Scotland
The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“Children and young people are the best advocates for change and today I have heard some powerful stories that really demonstrate strength, courage and success in the face of circumstances that no young person should have to deal with.
“We all have a role to play in supporting and listening more to our young people to ensure they get the same stability and life chances that the rest of us take for granted.”
"Every child should have the best start in life and an equal chance to succeed. Yet, through no fault of their own, that’s not the case for far too many young people in care."
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Action for Children Scotland works with more than 800 young people who have been through the care system at services including residential and short-breaks, family support services and employability support.
Paul Carberry, Director of Action for Children Scotland, added: “When the review of the care system was announced by the First Minister we welcomed it, particularly the pledge to listen to the views of care-experienced young people.
"Our young people were thrilled to meet the First Minister and play their part in this very important review. She heard about their very real experiences which are important if we are to build of a care system which will better meet their needs and allow them to reach their potential."
Paul Carberry, Director of Action for Children Scotland
"I am highly motivated by the ambition that any child who needs help, gets help - so I’m really proud to be joining the team."
This week, we have welcomed our Nick Jones as the new managing director of fundraising, communications and policy.
Previously at Save the Children, Nick will develop and deliver strategy for 175 staff across the three directorates and become the fourth member of Action for Children’s executive leadership team. Nick will also lead on the charity’s business development activity, develop its supporter journeys and deliver a new stakeholder engagement strategy.
Earlier this week, we caught up with Nick about his new role:
"I applied to Action for Children as I passionately believe every child and young person should have the chance to fulfil their potential. It’s simply not right that children suffer neglect or abuse, or are held back because of disadvantage. I’m not embarrassed to say that when I first read Action for Children’s annual report I was truly humbled. It was clear to me that Action for Children is an incredible organisation doing remarkable things for children, young people and their families. I am highly motivated by the ambition that any child who needs help, gets help - so I’m really proud to be joining the team."
Welcome to the team, Nick!
The shortage of foster carers in Northern Ireland is reaching crisis point, according to a leading children’s charity.
Action for Children Northern Ireland has revealed that 170 carers are urgently needed in the region to meet the immediate need for placement.
Some children are having to be moved up to 70 miles from their home because there are no carers in their own areas, the charity said.
Avery Bowser, children’s services manager at Action for Children Northern Ireland, said: “We have children who desperately need a secure and loving home in Northern Ireland. We simply don’t have enough carers.
“Because of the shortage of foster carers across Northern Ireland this often results in children being placed a long way from home.
“Action for Children is appealing for really special people to come forward who have resilience, patience and flexibility to meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable children.”
" Currently the situation is nearing crisis point. We are constantly being approached to provide placements for children in the most desperate need and we simply don’t have enough people in the right place at the right time to help."
– AVERY BOWSER, ACTION FOR CHILDREN NORTHERN IRELAND
Mr Bowser explained that children in need of foster care that can’t be placed nearer to their home have difficulty maintaining links with their family and community.
“This affects the chances of the children returning home and has a negative impact on the long-term outcome for the child,” he said.
Action for Children Northern Ireland has been working closely with Health and Social Care Trusts to help them meet the urgent need for placements in their localities.
“The need is widespread across Northern Ireland,” Mr Bowser added.
“For instance in Belfast we need another 32 foster families while in Derry another nine are needed.
“In the Northern Trust area where we are particularly keen to attract carers - we need another 44 from Carrickfergus to Coleraine to Cookstown and all points in between. In the Southern Trust, another priority area for us, there is a need for another 34 carers this year.”
FtSE Member News: Action for Children welcome progress on mental health support for children in care
Overshadowed by revelations of historic child abuse in professional football and continued controversy over the government’s abuse enquiry, there was positive news for children in care last week.
With support from across the health and social care sectors, Lib Dem peer Baroness Claire Tyler successfully persuaded government ministers to consider amending the Children and Social Work Bill to include mandatory mental health assessments for looked after children and young people in England.
Current health checks for children entering foster and residential care do not routinely cover mental health or emotional wellbeing - a situation campaigners have long deemed unacceptable.
"The most important thing is to feel love and feel accepted – I don’t have that. Every single day is a struggle for me because I know that I am not wanted. I try not to form attachments because people let me down. I have learned to hide my emotions but I am in a bad place at the moment."
Young person in care
Many looked after children entering care have endured trauma and abuse and evidence shows at least 45 per cent of children have a diagnosable mental health issue – this rises to more than 70 per cent for those children entering residential care.
Continuing to struggle with experiences of loss and separation has a long-lasting impact on children’s emotional wellbeing and can lead to mental health difficulties. This often contributes to poor school performance, anti-social behaviour, running away from placements, self-harm and an increased risk of suicide.
As part of its wider mental health strategy, the Government has now agreed to begin testing and piloting mental health assessments for 10,000 young people about to enter care, with around ten local authorities trialing certain age groups from April next year.
“We’ve been calling for better psychological support for these young people for a long time”, explains Emma Smale, co-chair of the Alliance for Children in Care and Care Leavers, and head of policy and research at Action for Children.
“We therefore welcome this announcement – it’s a promising and significant first step towards making a real and lasting improvement to the lives of our looked after children and young people.”
It is hoped the pilots will also help foster carers better understand and address the emotional and mental health needs of children in their care and flag up any further training they may need themselves.
Putting greater emphasis on the education of foster parents and all health and social care professionals involved in a child’s care will form the next stage of the campaign.
Smale continues: “The commitment to better identify mental health and emotional needs must be tied with stronger requirements on health professionals to play a more effective and instrumental role in improving the health of looked after children.
“They need to have the capacity to better understand the specific needs of these children - many have been abused or neglected and their needs simply don’t fit traditional clinical diagnoses.
"Piloting mental health assessments is a great first step but unless it’s paired with the necessary expertise of how to care for them, we’ll be back to square one."
Emma Smale, Head of Policy and Research at Action for children
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