Children’s charities have stepped up their campaign to call for an end to private care companies profiteering from fostering.
The campaign group Fairer Fostering Partnership (FFP) has launched a social media push using the hashtag #forchildrennotprofit, to promote commissioning care placements using not-for-profit and charitable fostering agencies, rather than commercial fostering firms.
The group is concerned that commercial fostering organisations are owned by private and venture capital companies that make “significant profits for shareholders”.
Instead, the FFP believes that any profit from foster care should be re-invested into children’s services.
“Excessive profit has no place in the care of vulnerable children,” says the group.
It adds: “FFP members work purely for children, not for profit, and in a financially strapped sector funded by taxpayers helping thousands of vulnerable children in care, it is important that local authorities and foster carers are able to make an informed choice as to which fostering providers they work with."
FFP members include Action for Children, Barnardo’s and The Adolescent and Children’s Trust (TACT).
TACT chief executive and FFP chair Andy Elvin said: “All our members’ resources are invested in meeting the needs of vulnerable children and young people, and not in making a profit from them.
“This transparency and accountability is welcomed by local authorities and foster carers alike, but we need to continue promoting the message that excessive profits are being made by some agencies at a time when there is less money in the system. That clearly can’t be a good thing for children in care.”
This week the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) also raised concerns about the use of profit-making companies to provide children’s care.
Its 2021 position paper says there is a “worrying increase in the number of large organisations, backed by private equity investors, entering into children’s residential and fostering services”.
It adds “the ability of private equity companies to extract huge profit from the care of children is concerning, as is the level of debt and the implications that financial failure would mean for children and young people”.
By Ali Gunn, Communications and Campaigns Manager
We, like Article 39, Become, the Care Leavers Association and many others are in disbelief that the clear evidence on the isolation and risk that young people face in unregulated accommodation is being ignored.
Only last week an FOI Article 39 found that between April and September 2020 four young people aged 16 and 17 died whilst living in unregulated accommodation. But still, the government insist that this type of accommodation is satisfactory.
The new standards that are being proposed will create a two-tier care system where 16- and 17-year-olds entering the system will be at risk of not receiving the care they deserved and are legally required to receive.
We ask all parents and carers to consider if they are happy for their children not to have any care when they turn 16. If not, join us and stand up for the young people this disastrous policy decision will affect.
We believe that every child in care should be guaranteed care up to the age of 18 but new government legislation will leave around 6000 children without care.
We've joined Article39, Become, Just For Kids Law, The Care Leavers Association and many other organisations, professionals and care experienced people to reject the two tier children’s residential care system this legislation will create.
Read more about the campaign
'Making the decision to pursue a career in fostering is one that takes a lot of thought. Once you’ve decided to enquire about the role, the next step is finding the agency that’s right for you.
So, what are the top things to consider when looking at agencies?
1) Which agencies are clear about the support they offer?
Ask about the support different agencies or local authorities offer. How long have the staff team been in place? Is the agency happy to provide you with current foster carer contact details so you can get a direct overview of life at the agency first-hand?
Team Fostering ensures that foster carers are supported by local staff, with very low staff turnover and with 'out of hours’ workers getting to know all foster carers so that even when your designated worker is unavailable, you will be able to speak with somebody that knows you and your family. In our recruitment process we offer you contact details of some of our current foster carers, so you can gain an honest overview of the support at Team directly from them. You can read more about our support, fees and benefits here.
2) Read Ofsted reports
Most fostering providers will share their Ofsted reports on their websites. If they don’t, you will be able to locate reports yourself on Ofsted’s website using their search function. Read reports in detail, recognise the positive comments and consider how Ofsted perceive the agency as a whole, what partnership authorities have said about staff and how foster carers report on life with the agency. Top tip: double check that Ofsted reports shared on agencies' websites are their most recent reports! You can do this by looking at Ofsted's website.
Team Fostering was rated Oustanding (North East November 2018) and Good (Yorkshire and East Midlands March 2018), and our Ofsted reports are available to read on our website here. We’re very proud of them, and we encourage you to read them if you’re considering our agency. Our carers, staff, partners and, most importantly, children and young people share honest views about the service and these are something that we are delighted with.
3) Check out social media pages
Current foster carers likely follow their agency’s social media accounts and blogs. Does it seem like the agency operates with a true sense of community? Have its current foster carers left comments on posts? Are pictures of staff and carers visible?
Our foster carers and staff are very active on social media and this is visible on our accounts. You can look at our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
4) Get clued up on reading between the lines
Are agency websites upfront about the types of fostering on offer? Do they explain fees and allowances in a clear way and is it easy to find exactly what you're looking for without an exhaustive list of vague statements and promises?
Our fees and allowances are available on our website and we have an entire page dedicated to the types of children and young people we work with (click here to view). We are regularly adding to our website to ensure that all prospective foster carers are provided with a transparent overview of the agency. New pages currently being worked on include ‘The History of Team Fostering,’ 'Our Relationship with Local Authorities' and 'A Day in the Life of a Foster Carer'. We have a live chat facility where you can ask any questions that you can't find the answer to, and in these instances we will be sure to enhance the website for the future so that others can see this information clearly.
5) Consider how important it is to you that the agency operates in an ethical way
Many prospective carers might not know that some agencies operate for-profit and some that operate as not-for-profit organisations, some as charities and some as local authority fostering services.
Many people just assume that all fostering services are not-for-profit, so it's important to 'do your homework' and work out what type of organisation feels right for you. Working at Team Fostering is particularly rewarding for many of our foster carers because the agency is a truly ethical, not-for-profit one that invests surplus funds into putting children’s futures first. Our staff and foster carers value this ethical approach to fostering immensely, and we are all proud to be part of an agency like ours. Not-for-profit agencies are able to offer similar fees, support and training as firstname.lastname@example.org agencies, often with additional opportunities made possible by the reinvestment of funds! Read more about our support by clicking here.
6) What is your gut instinct telling you?
You’ll know within minutes of looking at a website, a social media channel or an article whether you think an agency is putting children’s futures first and whether it's somewhere that impresses you and engages you.
Speak with agencies on the phone and consider the way their staff speak to you. Are they quick at answering your queries? Are they polite? Fostering is an amazing role and it’s important that, if you start a fostering journey, you do it with an agency that you’d like to call home with an organisation that takes the time to welcome your enquiry and answer any questions that you have.'
Team Fostering is an independent, not-for-profit fostering agency operating across the North East, Yorkshire and East Midlands.
You can enquire with us about becoming a foster carer in the following ways:
Complete our online enquiry form here
Call our Recruitment Team on 0800 292 2003
Email us via email@example.com
Exciting things are happening at Community Foster Care, we have big goals and big plans in making sure the children and young people in our care have the best opportunity at a bright future. To keep improving and driving towards this mission, we need more hands on deck, so we are thrilled to announce two new arrivals to our team and very excited to introduce them both to you.
We are pleased to welcome our new team member, Evelyn, to Community Foster Care. Evelyn is joining as a Marketing Assistant in our Gloucester office. She will be a voice behind some of our posts, so you will be hearing from and interacting with her on our social media platforms.
Evelyn has a background in communications and marketing within organisations in England and Kenya. She is most happy when working within organisations that are making a positive impact in the world, and she is passionate about using marketing as a channel to promote social change.
A little something about Evelyn:
I enjoy spending time with friends and family, the pandemic has truly shown me how important they are to me. I love traveling and the new experiences it brings, especially when it comes to food, and I hope one day to travel more around Africa and the Middle East. I also relish in the arts which absolutely includes YouTube and Netflix.
We are delighted to welcome Kate to our team, who has joined us as a Finance Assistant in our Gloucester Office. Kate’s role will support us to improve our financial capabilities, so we are better able to achieve our goals.
Kate has worked in admin and finance for seven years in various settings, and she finds the most rewarding part of her career journey has been with charities with an artistic or community focus. She is happy to be part of the team and is looking forward to using her skills to support our work.
A little something about Kate:
I have a husband, two teenage girls, a dog and two cats, all of which keep me plenty busy! I love to sing, anything from karaoke show tunes to big choral society stuff. I love being entertained and can’t wait to be able to visit theatres and comedy clubs once life gets back to some kind of normal again.
If you would like to join our expedition, please see our available roles on our jobs board.
To mark the one-year anniversary of lockdown, stars have highlighted how the pandemic has impacted children and young people across the UK by sharing their #OneWishForChildhood
A host of famous faces including singer Liam Gallagher, actor Larry Lamb, TV presenter Ore Oduba, actress Sharon Horgan and Strictly star Giovanni Pernice have joined forces with Action for Children to share their ‘One Wish For Childhood’.
Loose Woman Nadia Sawalha, Love Islanders Olivia and Alex Bowen, The Wanted’s Tom Parker and newsreader Dermot Murnaghan have been joined by Instagram stars Adanna Steinacker and Anna Saccone Joly as part of our campaign to End Childhood Crisis.
With wishes ranging from ‘love’, ‘dance’, ‘happiness’ and ‘education’, the celebrities highlight those things all children should expect and cherish as their right, whilst helping to shine a light on all those vulnerable children in the UK for whom these things are, tragically, not always a reality.
Urgent need for help
Action for Children ambassador Larry Lamb said: “Over four million children in the UK are living in poverty right now. Many are going without proper food, heating, warm clothes and other essentials – and this was all happening before the pandemic.
Now, with unemployment high and fears for the future when furlough ends, more families are facing financial hardship. And vulnerable children are paying the price.
“Poverty can be devastating for children; its effects can last a lifetime. Without urgent help, the life chances of these children could be damaged. We can’t let the horror of the pandemic and the misery of poverty scar a generation of vulnerable children. We all need to work together to End Childhood Crisis.”
What's your #OneWishForChildhood?
Whatever your wish, you can help us reach the most vulnerable children in the UK by supporting our End Childhood Crisis campaign. Find out more or make a donation.
Member News: Barnardo's - Young Person’s Guarantee: Children’s charities say we must now all play our part and prove to young people that there are opportunities for them
This week charity consortium Action for Children, Barnardo’s Scotland and Princes Trust, highlight the worth of the Young Person’s Guarantee and call on employers to get involved and support young people in their communities.
Lockdown has been an incredibly challenging time for us all, but our young people have been amongst the most heavily impacted by the effects of Covid-19. That’s why we are committed to the creation of The Young Person’s Guarantee which aims to help our younger generation secure employment, training, education or volunteering opportunities.
We are particularly pleased that young people have been involved in the shaping of the Guarantee – they have stepped up to protect their future and now it’s our turn. We encourage Scotland’s employers to support the Young Person’s Guarantee by investing in and creating jobs to ensure that no one is left behind, and our current and future workforce have the skills and opportunities to flourish.
Martin Crewe, Barnardo’s Scotland, Director for Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer Apprenticeships to young people across our Retail and Support Services, we are also supporters of the Kickstart programme where very soon we will be looking to recruit 30 young people in to a range of posts across Barnardo’s Scotland.”
For more information about how Barnardo’s Scotland supports young people in to employment contact Tommy.firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out how your business can get involved at www.youngpersonsguarantee.scot
For children and young people that are looked after by Team Fostering foster carers, there may be various reasons that they are unable to live with their own family. This will include traumatic past experiences that resulted in them being removed from their families.
Team Fostering is committed to providing children and young people with the opportunity to overcome such experiences. We understand that moving in to live with a new family can be a difficult time for children and that it is not easy to adapt to new routines and norms in their new environment. In turn this increases the challenges that foster carers need to overcome as they welcome children and young people into their home.
In order to help our foster carers provide bespoke care that meets the needs of each and every child, we provide carers and staff with training on The Secure Base Model. The model encompasses a therapeutic approach to parenting, which helps to support children by encouraging a sense of trust in those around them. By achieving this, children and young people are more able to:
The Secure Base Model enhances carers’ empathy and understanding of the needs and subsequent behaviours of children and young people in their care. Our staff are very experienced and have an excellent understanding of The Secure Base Model, using the approach in supervision with foster carers, to encourage caring for children and young people in a way that will support recovery from trauma and past experiences that they have gone through before living with our carers. Our supervising social workers work with our carers to think about how these needs can be met through supportive and understanding care.
The number of young people in foster care has steadily increased in the last few years. When thinking about these alarming numbers, it’s important to also reflect on what this means for those in care
Most of us can’t imagine the overwhelming experience of moving into care. Life is turned upside down and there is so much to process. At Action for Children, we want to make this transition more comfortable for young people.
We’ve launched a month-long Instagram campaign called My time in care specifically designed for young people who are moving into or already living in foster care. Each day, care leavers will explain a different aspect about being in care and share their own stories and advice.
As part of our campaign, we spoke to Connor, one of our care leavers, about his foster care journey and how it’s impacted his life.
How old were you when you started in foster care?
About five or six and I stayed in foster care until I was 16. Then I returned to one of my birth parents, but that broke down. So, I went back into care. After this, I went into a Staying Put arrangement until May last year.
How did you feel when you moved into your first placement?
I was in school, and my sister and I got picked up by a police car. And I think we were taken to a family centre, to say our goodbyes to our mum. Then we were taken to our new home. And I just remember going in, not knowing what was what, or what was happening. I didn't know what to think. It was a bit of mixed emotions, to be honest.
I don't think I ever really settled in any home. I guess I adjusted to make it work.
What would you say to a young person in care to help them adapt and adjust?
I guess I would say that things take time. And the foster carers, or workers if you're in a residential, should understand that. Do whatever you need to do. Whether that’s shutting yourself away for a couple of days, or, if you are wanting to talk, they should be there to talk to you as well.
In what ways you would say you’ve developed and changed as a person because of your experience?
I guess I can see things from different perspectives. I've got a good understanding of different types of people and how people work. I’m able to speak up and stand up for myself because of my experiences.
If you’re interested in hearing more about Connor’s journey, and stories of other care leavers follow the My time in care campaign on Instagram.
Today we are introducing you to a new staff member… but a strangely familiar face! Please join us in welcoming Patricia Moore as our Support Worker for our South-Central Region. Patricia has previously been a long-term Foster Carer with our South-Central team, before joining us as a Support Worker recently. We are so excited to welcome Patricia to The CFT staff team!
Patricia is very passionate about Fostering, and she believes the knowledge and experience that she possesses as a former Foster Carer will bring new dimensions to her support worker role. Patricia has also been conducting workshops for new Foster Carers to help them prepare them for their new fostering role.
We took some time to sit with Patricia (virtually) to get to know her better and find out how she feels about her new role, and her new insight into a different aspect of the organisation…
Tell us something about yourself Patricia?
“To start with, I will say I love what I am doing. I love children, and I am passionate about Fostering and helping children. I am originally from Argentina; however, I have been in England for 40 years, and for most of my life I have worked mainly in the education sector. As a person, I am passionate about helping people. When I lived in London, I worked in administration for different universities and usually dealt with day-to-day problems faced by students. I have also worked in a language school as an International welfare officer, supporting students from abroad requiring help with accommodation, medical, or sometimes visa-related issues. It was my job to assist them with any problems that they had, and my jobs have always involved helping. I have also done a lot of teaching abroad as well as in England, and I used to work in a college as a Spanish teacher. Even after all the different experiences I have had, I would say Fostering has taken me to a different level professionally.
Apart from my work, in my free time, I love walking. I love nature and living near the beach gives me the fortune to enjoy both. I enjoy reading and I also have a keen interest in politics. Apparently, I am a good cook, so I love cooking and preparing meals. My legacy is cooking, and all my foster children love the food I prepare. It’s a real passion of mine”.
You were initially a Foster Carer and now you are a Support Worker. How do you feel now that you have a different role within the Fostering world?
“Well, I love Fostering. I absolutely love looking after children. Many people have asked me “What is the best thing about Fostering?” and without a doubt, I would say the children. Children are definitely the highlight of Fostering. After 6 years in Fostering, my husband and I decided to retire to spend our time with family. So, when I heard about this role, I thought this was a kind of natural progression, as it comes as second nature to me. I feel that I will be able to help more children in this role by supporting the Foster Carers and I feel this role means that I can still make a difference. I have always loved The CFT and am thrilled that I can continue to work with the organisation.
I have lots of ideas of how to support Foster Carers and feel that my previous experience of a carer allows me to relate to any issues they are facing with more understanding. When a Foster Carer talks, I understand that he/she may be stressed or feeling overwhelmed, and I also know that it is temporary. Fostering can feel a little like a roller coaster at times, and carers just need the right support to help them through this, which CFT provide. I would have never made the change from being a Foster Carer to a Support Worker if I hadn’t believed in The CFT.”
What attracted you to become a Foster Carer?
“Now this is a bit of an interesting story. When I first moved into my current home, I was chatting with my next-door neighbour over the fence and she told me she was nervous. When I asked her why, she explained that she was a Foster Carer and that she was getting her first placement that day. Later that day, I saw a young 14-year-old boy arrive and long story short – I became really close to him. I loved talking with him and saw a real change in him, and this led me to think that maybe I could foster.
It’s big commitment to bring a child into your home and I want to be sure that I had the necessary qualities to be a foster carer. I had teenage children at that point (20 & 17), and they wanted to be sure that it is not dangerous, so I did my research. It was very important to me that my family were supportive of our plans, and so we had many discussions before making the decision together as a family to foster. I had initially approached a few independent fostering agencies and found that they were not the right fit me for. Shortly afterward, my neighbour introduced me to The CFT and from within 5 minutes of the CFT Social Worker walking into my home, I thought yes, they are the agency for me”.
Tell us something more about your Fostering experience?
“I had a very successful placement for five years. He left our home two and a half years ago, but he still calls me nearly every day. He is part of my family, and he is very successful now. It’s great to see how he has transitioned into being an adult over the years, and it is very impressive. Fostering is so rewarding because of that, and I can say I am as close to him as any mother should be. When he arrived with us, he was so confused, upset, and angry, and now he has joined the Army, and he is doing well. It’s amazing to see how he has grown.”
What inspired you to pursue the career you have today? What motivates you at work?
“I believe in a better world and I also think that we can all do well in life. If we have the right conditions and believe that we can all help others, we can all live in a better society. I believe children are the future of any community and if you invest time in children, you will invest time in the future.”
What do you like so far about the organisation?
“The fact that The CFT is a non-profit charity organisation and always trying to improve the service. I also like the ‘family for life’ Ethos of the organisation, as this is what I exactly do with my foster children.
I also like how much CFT cares for their staff, which I have noticed from day one. I enjoyed talking to different people in the company when I first started, and everyone was very friendly.”
What skill do you think everyone should learn- as a Foster Carer and Social Worker?
“I feel that being organised and empathetic is essential to both roles. It is also important to be reflective, because there may be occasions where you can look at a situation and think ‘I could have done this differently or better.”
What do you hope to achieve during your first year with the organisation?
“I want to establish myself in this role, as it is the first time the south central team have had a support worker. Currently, I am working remotely, which is an experience, but I like new challenges. I would like to get to know the children a little better, as I already know many of the foster carers. I am also getting to know some of the newer carers because I am doing a lot of training with them, so that’s good. I have become part of the team quite quickly, which previously I was worried about because they were the ones supervising me before, but after working with the team, my worry is long gone.
I want to be able to help Supervising Social Workers as much as I can, and I am also open to trying different tasks within the role. We deal with people, so our role is quite evolving, and I am happy to grow according to the requirement of my office.”
We would like to thank Patricia for taking the time to speak to us and for her work so far with the organisation.
On behalf of all of The CFT, we would like to extend our warmest welcome and best wishes to Patricia!
Member News: Barnardo's - Children in need of Barnardo’s fostering services up by more than half during coronavirus pandemic
The number of children in England urgently needing foster care from Barnardo’s has risen by more than half during the coronavirus pandemic, the UK’s leading children’s charity says as it appeals to potential carers to come forward.
From April-December 2020, the number of children referred to Barnardo’s fostering services in England rose by 57% compared to the same period in 2019.
During that time there were 13,030 referrals to Barnardo’s fostering services in England, a figure which shot up from 8,302 for the same period in 2019.
Barnardo’s says children who may have experienced abuse and neglect are waiting for places with loving foster families. Without more potential foster carers coming forward, hundreds of children referred to Barnardo’s will not be placed with a family.
The UK’s leading children’s charity believes the pandemic and lockdowns have increased pressure on vulnerable families, with job losses, deepening poverty and worsening mental health all leading to family breakdown. Children have also been in lockdown in homes where domestic abuse and sexual abuse are taking place. These pressures will likely impact more families as the pandemic continues.
Barnardo’s is releasing these figures as part of their fostering week campaign, which runs from 25th January. The charity is calling on people over 21, who have a spare room and the time and commitment to support a child to get in touch and consider fostering a child. Barnardo’s welcomes foster carers from all walks of life, including single people, those from the LGBTQ+ community and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.
The charity also wants to make it clear that foster carers will be supported every step of the way by Barnardo’s, and will also be eligible for financial support including carers’ allowance.
To find out more about fostering with Barnardo’s, go to https://www.barnardos.org.uk/foster or call 0800 0277 280.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:
“Vulnerable families have been hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic, with many reaching crisis point. This means more children than ever need a safe and loving foster family to care for them.
“Barnardo’s has over 100 years’ experience bringing vulnerable children together with loving foster families, who provide the vital love and support children need to thrive. If you become a foster carer with Barnardo’s we will support you every step of the way with training and a dedicated social worker. You’ll also receive financial support, including a carer’s allowance.
“Today, there are hundreds of children who have been referred to Barnardo’s and are waiting to be placed with a foster family. We urgently need more potential foster carers to come forward. If you’re over 21, have a spare room and the time and commitment to support a child in need, please do consider getting in touch today.”
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