Ray – TACT Foster Carer since 2009
My life has always been very child focused. I have a 19-year-old son with my wife Anne who works in childcare, two older girls from my previous marriage and four grandchildren. My brother and sister-in-law fostered with TACT for 23 years before they retired this year and we often spent time with children in their care. As we had a spare bedroom in our house, we decided that we would love to give a child a chance of a family life, with support and love, and so ten years ago i became a foster dad.
Shortly after we were approved to foster, we received a phone call regarding a young man from Afghanistan who was at a police station after being found on a lorry. We only had 15 minutes notice before a social worker brought him to our house so we quickly put fresh bedding on and waited. To say we were nervous would be an understatement.
This boy came to our house with only a plastic bag containing a few clothes given to him by the police, and he had no knowledge of English. We did our best to make sure his needs ere met and we learnt a lot very quickly. First, we went to our local mosque where we found help and advice from some lovely people. Then we visited a halal shop where we received tips on what he could and could not eat. Finding him a school was particularly difficult as not many had places available, and the fact that he didn’t speak or write much English made it even more complicated.
However, I did my best and phoned and chased people until a place was found. When children are in my care, I will always do all I can to support them and get them the best outcomes possible. As three out of four of the children we have cared for were unaccompanied asylum seekers, being their foster carers meant taking them to legal meetings and supporting them throughout intense and stressful times. The list of processes we have had to undertake when a child moves in with us could be very long, but the way I look at it is just the same as with any other family member. You fight for them to get what they need.
Being a foster carer means everything to me. I have loved helping the children in my care, supporting them and watching them gain confidence and achieve great things at school. This doesn’t end when the young person leaves our house. We are still in touch with all our former foster sons. They know that we are still here for them and they are welcome to pop in anytime.
I am proud to say all the boys are doing well in life. Our first foster son has his own family now and he still calls us mum and dad. The second one is working really hard but makes sure to find time to come visit us. Our third son received his leave to remain status last year and he is now studying for a degree at university.
Our own son is now 19, and to him the boys are just like family. I still remember when our first foster child arrived at the house, the two boys spent the evening playing on a game console. No talking was needed, they were communicating as children do.
I would recommend to anyone who is considering fostering not to overthink it and just go for it. And when you get that phone call about a child that might be placed with you don’t listen only to negatives. All children are different but they have one thing in common – they all need support and a family.
Read more carer stories here.
Member News: Young People at Heart - We’re expanding and using this platform to introduce our new recruits.
Young People at Heart is a not-for-profit Independent Foster-Care Agency (IFA) that’s expanding! At Young People at Heart outcomes for young people are paramount for the organisation and everyone associated with it. Quite simply, everything the organisation does has the interests of young people at heart and that’s the way we want it to stay. On that basis the people who work with us have to have exactly the same ethos. Today we’d like to introduce you to one of our latest recruits Estelle Cashin, our Placements Officer.
My first experience of an IFA was in the late 1990’s when I got my first job at a small IFA local to where I lived. It had a real family feel to it and it was a great place to work. I worked as a Receptionist/Administrator before being lured back to my previous employer and then starting a family.
I had grown up in a family who fostered and was one of four myself. As a result I have some fantastic memories of all of us piling into the car and going to see my grandparents in Great Yarmouth, sometimes as many as seven children and our dog. I always admired my parents for fostering and the children and young people we looked after were very much a part of our family. I think having this experience as a child has helped me to grow as a person.
After having my second child I went back to the local IFA and worked a few hours a week populating their new database (mostly I went in on a Friday afternoon to entertain the troops whilst doing the odd bit of data input!) and looked on, longingly, while someone else fulfilled my dream job, Placements Officer. I continued to be a full time mum of two and went on to have two more children.
When my youngest was at school I had a conversation with a friend, who worked at the agency, who told me that a Training Administrator position was about to become available. I applied and got the job.
During my working life I have had a handful of bosses who’ve had a positive impact on me and, the way I work. Dale Cooper, my new boss, was one of these and I am thankful that, although no longer my boss, he is now my friend. It was during my time working with Dale, in the Training Administration role, that I had an opportunity to help, and cover for, Sarah the Placements Officer. I was in my element as I had finally got to be, albeit in an adhoc way, a Placements Officer. Over time the role grew and I was given the opportunity to be the full time Placements Officer. Seven years later I still love my job.
Not long after being given the role full time the agency we worked for was sold to an investment company, who went on to purchase a number of different fostering agencies. The area and number of agencies I covered grew and I had a team of seven to manage. Although incredibly proud of what I achieved while I was there (the number of children I had found fantastic carers for, carers who gave the young people placed the lives they deserved) I slowly started to feel that the role was becoming less about the children and the carers and more about how many children could be placed. I always really wanted to make a difference and I didn’t feel I was anymore. So I made one of the toughest decisions I have ever made, to leave the organisation (where I’d worked for years and where I had met some incredible people).
I reached out to Dave Bailey and Gary Cox at Young People at Heart because I had worked with them before and admired what Young People at Heart stood for. So here I am, working for a not for profit organisation where everyone’s opinion, and feelings, matter. A place where I feel listened to, valued and am encouraged to put the young people we work with at the heart of everything I do. I meet the children I place and spend time talking to the carers on the phone so I can match them better by understanding their needs (which makes the placement more sustainable). I’m doing what I love most and making a difference again! But I never forget that I couldn’t do this job without the foster carers and their families. They are the people who volunteer to care for the looked-after children and young people who need them. The people whose children have to share everything including the time they have with their parents. The people who are in extremely short supply because each and every year the number of referrals increases. If you’d like to foster with young people at heart then give me a call.
Member News: Team Fostering - Guest Blog: John Sands discusses the importance of offering psychological support to foster carers
As an agency that prides itself on ‘Putting Children’s Futures First,’ we continually seek ways to strengthen the support package we provide to foster carers in order to meet the needs of the children and young people in their care. In 2018 we launched a psychological support service with John Sands, a clinical psychologist whose work is underpinned by attachment and resilience theories, in order to provide support to carers and staff that will enable them to individually tailor care for children and provide an opportunity for them to recover from their early traumatic experiences.
John Sands discusses the importance of this support…
'Why is it important for a fostering agency to offer psychological support?'
"Clinical psychology is an integration of science, theory and knowledge for the purpose of understanding, preventing and relieving psychologically based distress. Clinical psychologists have been central to the understanding and development of attachment theory, and to the application of clinic practice to lessen attachment insecurities.
The majority of children and young people looked after by foster carers usually arrive in care with significant attachment insecurities. This can make a relationship with their foster carer/s feel unsafe to them, and the strategies they adopt to try and make themselves feel safer are often those behaviours that carers find challenging.
Clinical psychologists can work with all parts of the care system, from child to foster carers, social workers and the rest of the support network. The aim of such work is to lessen insecurities, strengthen relationships and ultimately reduce disruption in the home. The stability of the fostering placement is recognised as a critical factor in improving outcomes for children and young people in care.
The inclusion of clinical psychology in support offered by fostering agencies like Team Fostering can complement the knowledge and skills already present, adding significant value to the care offered by foster carers. This can considerably improve the emotional health and outcomes for some of our most vulnerable children and young people."
Team Fostering is a not-for-profit fostering agency. Operating in this way allows the agency to provide a multitude of support services, training opportunities and competitive fees and allowances. The implementation of our Psychological Support Service has been extremely well-received by foster carers, who value the workshops and consultations that John is providing. We look forward to continuing our work with John.
If you are interested in fostering, we would love to hear from you. This psychological support is just one of our initiatives that is not offered by all other fostering agencies.
You can speak to us about training to become a foster carer, or transferring to us as a current foster carer, in the following ways:
call us on 0800 292 2003
send an online enquiry form by clicking here
email us via firstname.lastname@example.org
speak to our Live Chat advisers by opening the Live Chat box
The Together Trust’s very own Wendy Coomer has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday 2019 Honours List.
Wendy has volunteered for over 22 years in various governance roles, supporting the Together Trust in its vision to see people thrive because they are valued within their communities. During this time, she was chairman of the board of trustees for five years until 2018. Wendy has been awarded her MBE for services to young people in Cheshire.
Wendy first became involved with the Together Trust as a manager in one of the charity’s special schools in Stockport. In 2012, she was chairman of Bridge College’s governing body when it moved to state of the art facilities in East Manchester, and was a crucial part of the team who lead the campaign to move the charity’s specialist further education college to Manchester. Today Bridge College supports over 80 young people with profound learning difficulties and complex health needs.
“Her support has been crucial over the years and Wendy has been a loyal advocate for the young people we support. Her Honour is well deserved.” Mark Lee, Chief Executive
Although Wendy has now retired from the board of trustees, she continues to support the work of the Together Trust as a volunteer member of its fostering panel and supporting people subgroup.
Chief Executive, Mark Lee, commented: “Wendy has made an enormous and valued contribution to the Together Trust and we are delighted that this hard work and commitment has been formally recognised.
“Her support has been crucial over the years and Wendy has been a loyal advocate for the young people we support. Her Honour is well deserved.”
"This has always been important to me and I hope to continue supporting and volunteering at the Together Trust for many years to come.” Wendy Coomer
Wendy said, “I am surprised, delighted and honoured to receive this MBE. It has been a privilege to work with a fantastic group of staff, volunteers and young people over many years. The team at the Together Trust continue to support me thus enabling me to champion care and independence for people with disabilities, complex needs, autism and their families.
"This has always been important to me and I hope to continue supporting and volunteering at the Together Trust for many years to come.”
Salary: £33,561 pa + £1,500 Out of
Hours Rota Allowance
Closing Date: 16/06/2019
Interview Date: 27/06/2019
Hours: 35 hours per week
Full Time - Permanent
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.
This is an exciting opportunity to be part of a national non-profit making organisation at a local level. We are interested in individuals for whom quality of service is paramount and in those who share our commitment to working in partnership with children and their foster carers in the development of the agency.
The overall purpose of this role is to recruit, assess, train and support a diverse range of foster carers and placements.
You are required to have the following experience:
You will be required to be on an out of hours’ rota and you will be paid an out of hours’ allowance of £1,500 per annum once participating in the rota.
TACT offer an excellent benefits package including 31 days paid holiday, flexible working arrangements, group income protection scheme, x10 death in service, stakeholder pension scheme, child care vouchers and fantastic learning and development opportunities. Please see the job information pack for further information.
Closing: Sunday 16th June 2019
Interviews: Thursday 27th June 2019 at TACT South West (BS16 2QQ)
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
Our Midlands Office based in Bromsgrove, West Midlands, is looking to recruit an exceptional person to support our Foster Carers and Children. The successful candidate will work closely with our social work and administration team.
Bromsgrove, West Midlands (B60)
We are a progressive organisation who promote a friendly and supportive working environment, where you will be rewarded for your hard work and results.
As well as a competitive annual salary (up to £37,000 dependent on experience) plus a very generous car allowance (£4,800 per annum) and out of hours allowance (£1,200 per annum), we offer a comprehensive benefits package including 30 days Annual leave plus bank holidays, 35 hour week, up to 5% contributory pension, occupational sick pay, private health care, dental care, employee assistance programme, enhanced maternity pay, life assurance, long service awards, childcare vouchers and free office parking.
Permanent, full time. 35 hours per week (Monday – Thursday 9.00am – 5.00pm, Friday 9.00am – 4.30pm)
Our staff are an integral part of our success and we are seeking to recruit a Principal Social Worker to cover our West Midlands area.
Based at our Midlands Office in Bromsgrove you will recruit, assess and support our Foster Carers as well as make placements in response to referrals from Local Authorities. Our low caseload management system ensures that we achieve good outcomes for our children and maintain a high quality service. This role involves supporting the Registered Manager by supervising and supporting less experienced staff on professional matters and undertaking tasks delegated by the Registered Manager.
Please see the full job description listed below for further details.
This is an exciting opportunity for a HCPC registered Social Worker with at least 2 years’ experience in a social work environment that includes some fostering social work experience. Someone who can work flexibly as part of a busy team and wants the opportunity to provide a quality service to our children, young people and Foster Carers. Supervisory experience would be advantageous.
The Children’s Family Trust is an equal opportunities employer and committed to promoting the welfare and safeguarding of children, ensuring that they are kept safe. As you will be in an environment which involves child protection and working with Looked After Children, you will need to be covered by DBS clearance, which the Trust will undertake. This position is also subject to receipt of satisfactory references.
How to apply
To apply please email your CV to email@example.com. If selected for interview candidates will be required to complete an Application Form and Equality & Diversity Monitoring Form available from our website. We are a great company to work for and this is a rare opportunity to make a ‘real’ difference in children’s lives. To read more about our unique history, please click here.
Closing Date: 10th June 2019
Full details and application documents here
The Fostering Network's annual 'Foster Care Fortnight' is taking place across the UK and the 2019 theme is #ChangeAFuture
We are proud supporters of the campaign, as an agency member of The Fostering Network, and an advocate for promoting foster care across the country. There are thousands of children and young people in need of a home, and we are proud to be part of a network that aspires to recruit and train new foster carers to look after them.
We've been sharing some real stories and testimonials during the campaign, including from our staff, foster carers and even young people that have been looked after at Team Fostering.
We know that, for those considering fostering, there are often unanswered questions about types of fostering and how these work, and we thought we'd share some information on some of the types of fostering that our agency offers:
Short Term Fostering
Short Term Fostering is needed when a Local Authority Care Plan identifies that a child or young person needs to be looked after short term, rather than until they reach independence at 18. There is no time limit set for short term fostering placements, as they will continue for as long as is needed. When arranging Short Term Fostering Placements we work hard to ensure that children or young people placed with your family are well-suited, and you receive an abundance of support from our agency. You can read more about our support package by clicking here.
In some cases, if it is identified that the foster carer/s and the child or young person are suitably matched, and both parties are happy with the decision, the fostering may become a long term fostering placement. If this were to happen there would be an assessment to ensure the change to long term was appropriate.
Long Term Fostering
Long Term Fostering provides substitute care when a child or young person is unable to return to their birth family and are unlikely to be adopted. Long Term Placements can be planned in advance or might be the result of a Short Term Placement converting to longer term.
In this case, the foster carer will care for the child or young person permanently until they move onto independence.
All of our foster carers are offered the support, training, fees and allowances that allows them to look after young people in their care, and this does not lessen with long term fostering. For more information on the support we offer, click here.
Short Break Care
We recruit foster carers who are able to offer short break care for children and young people, which enables their main foster carer to take short breaks. When arranging short break care, we try to match the children with the same short break carers each time so that they get to know the family and look forward to their time away.
Parent and Child Fostering
This is where a young (often teenage) parent and child live with a foster carer until the Local Authority feel that they are able to manage on their own or with alternative support. The foster carer in this instance would look after the parent, protect the parent's child and work with the Local Authority's plan for both. This is an alternative to placing young parents in residential units and without this support, relationships can often break down and lead to separation of the parent from the child.
Are there eligibility criteria for fostering?
To become a foster carer with Team Fostering it is essential that you are over 21, have a spare room, and are able to drive with access to a car.
At Team Fostering we take pride in recruiting foster carers from all walks of life. Our foster carers have different backgrounds and life experiences and there is no ‘model foster carer’.
We welcome all enquiries and do not discriminate against anyone because of their age, race, gender or sexual orientation. There are basic criteria that foster carers should meet (click here for further information), however we do take time to consider all circumstances, and our team are always happy to discuss eligibility concerns and solutions with those interested in joining us.
How can I apply?
If you’re interested in becoming a foster carer, you can send an enquiry to us in one of the following 3 ways:
Send an online enquiry by clicking here
Call us on 0800 292 2003 to speak to a friendly member of our team
Email us via firstname.lastname@example.org
During #FCF19 we are exploring all things fostering.
Who can be a foster carer?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to fostering. The answer is simple. We welcome foster carers from many different backgrounds in terms of relationship status, ethnicity, age, sexuality and religious belief.
You can become a foster carer regardless of whether you have had children of your own. We welcome people who have never been foster carers or who are experienced foster carers.
Whatever your experience we will support and develop you. We always work hard to match foster carers and child very carefully.
If you want to find out more about becoming a Break Foster Carer in Norfolk get in touch today at email@example.com, call 01603 670100 or download our Foster Carers' Guide. Find out who can be a Foster Carer here.
Meet Eddie's foster parents - Case Study
My partner and I have been caring for 10-year-old Eddie since 2018. He has really started to grow in confidence and is even learning to make friends since he has been part of our family.
Eddie was confused and anxious when he came to us. He had been through terrible trauma, which shaped his behaviour. It was hard for us to see him become upset and angry and hard to be the target of his angry behaviour. But things are getting better now as he settles in.
Eddie’s sense of humour is coming to the fore and we have great fun together. We enjoy taking him out on his bike, to the beach, trampolining... Recently we all went on holiday to Dorset. He is doing better at school and loves his maths, reading and writing. He is more able to talk about his feelings and to cope with life’s ups and downs.
We take Eddie to see his parents, brother and sister and the rest of his family, who live a long way away. We feel glad that his mum and dad are happy with the care we are giving their son.
The Break Fostering service has been very supportive. It’s extremely useful getting together with other foster carers to share experiences at the monthly support groups. We have a supervising social worker who meets with us regularly and there is training and support covering all aspects of caring for children in a therapeutic way. We find all of this invaluable and we have learnt a lot about parenting children who have experienced trauma.
We are really glad we decided to foster and we would recommend anyone applying to Break to be a foster carer. The assessment process is very thorough and we cannot tell you that caring for a child is all plain sailing, because it can be tough and it’s important people know this. But we can tell you that the personal rewards are great, and when we see Eddie’s progress it’s a wonderful feeling.
We feel Eddie is beginning to understand our commitment to his learning and growth. He has begun to talk about the future, planning for his secondary school and, most importantly, he is enjoying being a young boy again.
Could you become a foster carer?
If you care about children and believe you can help us to change young lives. Fostering can play a huge part in transforming a young life, helping them to become happy, secure and successful young people.
Foster carers need to be able to value young people and to be able to commit to care for young people with sometimes complex needs and all this entails. We want foster carers who are aware there will be challenging times, and also rewarding ones, and who are able to work with the child at the child’s own pace and, above all, be able to provide a loving and caring home.
Find out more today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org call 01603 670100 or download our Foster Carers' Guide.
Location:Northern Ireland Regional Office
Salary :£43,096 - £55,371
Closing Date:14 June 2019
Interview Date:W/C 1 July 2019
At Barnardo's, we believe in children. Our purpose is to transform the lives of the UK's most vulnerable children and our vision is to realise Thomas Barnardo's dream of a world where no child is turned away from the help that they need.
In order to achieve our purpose we require Senior Managers who can demonstrate their ability to lead teams of talented and committed staff; who are able to work within the complexity and uncertainty of commissioning and tendering in the voluntary sector and who are able to display business acumen in a social care setting.
The Assistant Director of Children's Services post represents an opportunity for the successful candidate to be a strategic business leader and ambassador for Barnardo's Children's Services within their locality, delivering the vision and purpose of Barnardo's and ensuring that safe, effective and quality services are delivered consistently to children, young people and their families.
Salary: £43,096 - £55,371 per annum
Hours: 36.25 per week
Closing date: 14 June 2019 (midnight)
Interview date: Week commencing 1 July 2019
A waiting list will be held in the event that similar vacancies arise during the next 9 months
Contact details: email@example.com
At Barnardo's we believe in children – no matter who they are, what they have done or what they have been through. Please read about our basis and values following the link below. You will be asked questions relating to them as part of the recruitment process for this role.
Barnardo's is committed to having a diverse and inclusive workforce for staff and volunteers. We actively encourage applications from disabled, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic and male candidates as they are under-represented within Barnardo's.
Our basis and values
Full details and application documents here
Mick has been a foster carer for the Foster Care Co-operative since 2007. In 2002, he and his partner Sian joined their families together – which in turn guided them towards caring for others. In 2017, he wrote his first book – ‘Are Difficult Children difficult, or just different? What if we can change to help them’ – on the subject of adapting to the needs of children in care. We caught up with Mick to find out what inspired him to take time out to write it.
What inspired you to write the book?
My reason for deciding to write a strategic publication on how adults working with or caring for children can change their approach to suit the differing learning and progression needs of a child in their charge, came mainly from a passion for building strategies for young people ‘outside the norm/realms’ of traditional teaching and parenting styles, which clearly cannot work for all.
Who is the book aimed at?
‘Are Difficult Children difficult, or just different? What if we can change to help them’ is aimed at any adult involved with young people who do not present or behave in line with the majority of expected behaviours and traits in children aged between 5 and 16 years old. They are tried and tested example strategies that have evolved in focused programmes for a variety of young people – displaying what could be described by many as ‘difficult’ behaviour traits. The focus is on the adult changing their approach, in lieu of attempting to change the brain pattern of the ‘difficult child’ – bringing them in line with more traditional methods that quite simply do not work in the long term.
Did you base the advice/guidance purely on your own experiences as a foster carer, or did you draw from other sources?
Having ‘looked after’ the 8 children in our long-term care as a full time Foster Carer (in addition to our five birth children – 13 in all!), I have enjoyed the reparation strategies involving areas of concern, including serious neglect, disorganised/insecure attachment disorders, sexual abuse, domestic violence and special educational needs. I have, over the years, extended my learning to become better qualified in understanding the traits and behaviours that are caused by Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), Autism, Asperger’s and the Human Brain. I have been directly involved in the organisation of conferences for Foster Carers, Adopters, Care and Medical Professionals, and have presented workshops on FASD, Complex Educational Needs & introducing strategies for children with behavioural issues. I regularly present the three day ‘Skills to Foster’ programme that is a mandatory part of the selection process for prospective Foster Carers and my role is very much to allow them to gain the ‘reality’, whilst they work alongside qualified Social Workers learning the legislation and logistics of the task.
Two of our birth children (the oldest girl & youngest boy) along with two of our Fostered children have forged their pathways to attend University, whilst we have adult children currently serving as a Police Intelligence Officer, a Lance Corporal Paratrooper in the British Army (II Para), an RGN Nurse in ICU, a part-time removals man, a Call Centre operative and the Director of a Construction Company. We currently look after three children aged 12, 13 & 17 on behalf of their parents and the Local Authority, whom are all in Long Term Permanent placements here that commenced, 7 (the two youngest siblings) and 9 years ago respectively – all have a very different background story with extremely differing needs, behaviours, complexities, diagnoses and educational capabilities. As a running total I have parented children across approximately 120 years – I hope I do not look that old!
I have also worked closely with at least four Head Teachers, three Virtual Head teachers, several Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs), numerous medical professionals and a large number of Parents, Carers and Adopters. They have consistently but independently voiced ‘you should write a book, Mick’, so I decided to finally take their advice!
Was any of the subject matter hard to write, emotionally?
It was obviously a very emotional process writing the book, but also extremely therapeutic and a great reminder of the successes and positive outcomes that all of the children continue to enjoy as children and well into their adulthood, still making mistakes, but able to review, assess and build on each experience.
How long did it take you to write it?
I penned the book across 6 months in 2017, approached Publishers in early 2018 and signed the Publishing agreement in May 2018.
‘Are Difficult Children difficult, or just different? What if we can change to help them’ is available to order now here, or from all good book stores.
News & Jobs
News stories and job vacancies from our member agencies, the fostering sector and the world of child protection and safeguarding as a whole.
Browse News Archives