Health assessments trigger necessary support services for looked after children but they are carried out inconsistently across Scotland to the potential detriment of many young people, children’s charity Barnardo’s Scotland said today (Wed March 11).
Health Boards across Scotland were asked under FOI (Freedom of Information) to detail how they approached health assessments for looked after children and care leavers. The results have been published today in a report titled: Care In Mind: Health Assessments for Looked-after Children. It is the second report in a series by Barnardo’s Scotland which examines policies and practices across many different agencies to improve the mental health and wellbeing of looked-after children and care leavers.
The report makes a number of recommendations, including:
David Ferguson, Assistant Director of Policy and Influencing at Barnardo’s Scotland, said:
“We’re proud to be drawing attention to the mental health and wellbeing of looked after children and care leavers, which is too often forgotten among the many struggles that they face. As the Independent Care Review recently concluded, access to the right services at the right time can make all the difference. Health Assessment for looked after children can be the start of a journey of recovery, and it’s time Scotland’s policy and practice improved.”
Barnardo’s Scotland drew the report together with support from Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Monica Lennon. Commenting on the report she said:
“All children deserve to grow up in a loving and nurturing environment – and the Independent Care Review, informed by those with lived experience of care, has outlined a way for that ambition to become a reality for all looked after children in Scotland.
“Worryingly, the findings of this research reveal a huge level of inconsistency and a general lack of data about the health and emotional wellbeing of looked after children. It’s clear we need to see significant improvements to ensure that our commitments to looked after children are delivered.
“I urge Scottish Ministers to act on the findings of the Barnardo’s Scotland report so that improving mental health outcomes for looked after children is made a reality.”
The full report can be read here.
Daniel Turner, Managing Director of Stockport business William Turner, came to our Cheadle site recently to present us with a cheque for £8,967.41 raised by the company and its employees during its one year charity partnership with the Together Trust.
The family run business, now in its third generation, has been supplying high quality handmade school and corporate wear through independent retailers for more than fifty years. The company’s products, including school accessories such as bags, are manufactured locally in its own factories in Nelson and Skipton.
Daniel said: “In 2019 we celebrated 50 years in business. Reaching half a century is a real milestone for any business, but at William Turner we’ve also passionate about supporting our local communities.
“Given the nature of our business we wanted to choose a local charity connected to education and as soon as one of our team mentioned the Together Trust I knew it was the one. We’ve all been so impressed with the work the charity does and the positive impact they have on the lives of so many local young people. It’s been a privilege to be involved in supporting that work.
“We hadn’t partnered with a charity before and our experience of the team at the Together Trust has been extremely positive. They attended our events, invited us to theirs and gave us fundraising ideas and lots of material to help increase awareness in the company.
“We’ll be keeping in touch with our friends at Together Trust and wish them continued success in all the good work they’re doing.”
Alicen Thorn, Corporate Fundraiser at the Together Trust, said: “Everyone at William Turner has been so lovely and so generous with their time, throughout the year long partnership.
“Because the company manufactures all its products here in the North West all its staff had a real interest in the work that we do for local children and families, especially in our schools.
“We support individuals with diverse and complex needs. To do this we need support from corporate partners like William Turner. Donations like theirs help provide specialist equipment, extra activities, additional support from specialist staff and support for families.
“We really do appreciate their generous donation and I’ll be keeping them updated on all the good that’s done with the money they’ve raised.”
Team Fostering is a not-for-profit agency that invests surplus made into the services provided to foster carers, children and young people. This ensures that there are no shareholders who are able to make any profit from children in care, and that we can continue to advance the package of support, training and allowances for foster carers in order to ensure they flourish in their role.
We are an agency member of The Fairer Fostering Partnership along with other charitable or not-for-profit organisations who believe in putting children before profit.
We spoke to our foster carers about our not-for-profit status and what it means to them, and they agreed to share their thoughts on working for an ethical agency.
Here's what they said...
'It means Team are transparent and plough profits back into the organisation. Staff are caring and committed to carers. It one big family and the staff and other foster carers care for all of our children. It's wonderful.'
'Because of Team Fostering's not-for-profit status I feel am aware of their being truthful, fair and honest in all areas of the fostering task.'
'I will stay with Team Fostering because I know that they will remain not-for-profit and that they will always put back into the agency.'
'All £££s are put at the centre of the agency to support the children and not the bank balance, once sustainability is assured. All the money is invested in children and this is unlike other agencies where shareholders are only interested in profit. I could never work for a for-profit agency.'
'Managers and staff have a whole life ethos of being caring and nurturing, leading by example.'
If you're considering becoming a foster carer, or if you're already fostering and considering moving to another agency, we would urge you to consider speaking to a not-for-profit provider. Foster carers and staff at Team Fostering share a firm belief that no profit should be made from children in care, and as a result of this the agency is able to use funds to provide comprehensive support, innovative training and competitive fees so that you can take on the role knowing the agency is behind you every step of the way.
To speak with us you can contact us in the following ways:
by submitting an Online Enquiry Form
by using our Live Chat function
by calling us on 0800 292 2003
by emailing email@example.com
Melanie Armstrong is returning to Action for Children, this time as interim CEO, following the decision by Julie Bentley to resign as Chief Executive.
Julie Bentley announced she was stepping down on Friday (14th February) for personal reasons after 18 months in the role.
She paid tribute to staff at the charity calling them ‘some of the very best people I have encountered in my 25 year charity sector career’.
Melanie Armstrong was the Interim Managing Director of Corporate Shared Services at Action for Children until December last year. Melanie has previously held senior roles in both the commercial and not-for-profit sectors.
Chair of Trustees at Action for Children, Sarika Patel, said : “The Board and I are delighted to have Melanie back. She knows our organisation well and will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the charity, working closely with our Executive leadership Team (ELT). The search for a permanent CEO is now underway”.
Melanie Armstrong will take up the interim CEO role on March 3rd .
Fostering charity TACT Cymru wholeheartedly agrees with the call made by Wales children’s commissioner, for private companies to be prevented from making profits on children’s homes or foster care. Like Sally Holland, TACT would welcome an end to firms profiting from vulnerable children. Children with complex needs are well looked after by local councils and charities and not for profit enterprises.
TACT CEO Andy Elvin said: “Private equity backed firms bring no new practice to the table, they simply use financial muscle and leveraged debt to buy up smaller providers then charge the LA’s fees that cover the interest on the leveraged debt. They then sell up after a few year to make more profit with little regard to long terms outcomes for children.”
More information on Sally Holland’s report
Barnardo's has joined 26 other organisations working with care-experienced children and young people in England to urge the Government to carry out a review of the care system without delay.
The group has published an open letter to the Secretary of State, Gavin Williamson MP, calling on the Government to move forward with an independent and meaningful review.
Javed Khan, Barnardo’s Chief Executive, said:
“While many children in the care system have a positive experience, it continues to fail some of the most vulnerable, particularly teenagers and those with complex needs.
“As a society we must give these children the same opportunities that as parents we give our own children. Today around 36% of care leavers in England aged 17-21 are not in education, employment or training, compared to 12% of this age group overall. This urgently needs to change.
“That’s why we are calling for a root and branch review of the care system, with young people - who are ‘experts by experience’ - at its heart. It must consider why children are entering care, their experience of fostering and residential provision, right through to what happens when they leave. We look forward to working with the Government to improve the system so that all children in care can achieve a positive future.”
Back in April 2018, Team Fostering had the privilege of hosting a group of social workers and managers from Iraq, as they visited the North East to gain valuable insight into the foster care process here in the UK. Representatives from STEP (UK), an international development charity, and the Kurdish Ministry of Labour & Social Affairs met with several of our foster carers, managers and social workers to develop their understanding of how Team Fostering operates, and how this might relate to their own common goals in the Kurdish region of Iraq.
As Team Fostering Director Walter Young stated at the time, “I’m delighted that we can share our knowledge and experience with STEP (UK) and the Kurdish Regional Government. This visit to the UK has offered them the chance to learn about what we do and why it’s so successful. Sharing our expertise in this way can make a big difference to children’s lives.”
Flash forward to 2020, and Walter has now just returned to the UK after some time in Iraq with STEP (UK), following up on the growth of the project since the group’s UK visit in 2018. Nearly two years on, foster care resources are firmly in place in the Kurdish region, and a total of 16 placements have been made. The team are now looking to develop their short-term and emergency placement options.
The project hasn’t been plain sailing however, as setting up foster care in a location without the prior infrastructure to support it remains a challenging process. As Walter explains, “People don’t always understand the concept of foster care when they first encounter it, so a huge part of the task is raising awareness of what fostering is, and why it’s so beneficial to children and young people in the area.”
To help with this, Walter also arranged for a very special conference call while he was in Iraq. His sister Emma, a foster carer in Scotland, skyped in to give an honest, insightful view into the care of the children and young people she works with. This gave those working within the care system in Iraq an added real-life perspective on the sector outside of Team Fostering, which they valued immensely.
Walter's sister Emma on a skype call with the Iraq project group
With Walter’s support, foster care organisations from around the world have benefited from Team Fostering's advice and expertise. If you're interested in fostering or in learning more about what it means to operate as an ethical agency, you can speak with us on 0800 292 2003.
To find out more about the valuable work STEP (UK) does, visit http://www.step-uk.com/
We’ve had an early spring clean, tidied up the content, added some images and generally made everything look nice and fresh!
The main change is in the What We Provide section. Historically we have always steered clear of highlighting the fee paid to carers – but it’s something that we thought we should at least give examples of. Carers are highly skilled individuals who invest a lot of time in the assessment process, training – as well as the amazing and wonderful way they transform children’s lives every day. So, whilst not a ‘job’ in the traditional sense, it’s important to acknowledge that there is a fee – just as there would be if fostering for a local authority.
In our About Us section, we’ve added in a video which serves as a nice introduction to the ethos and approach of The Foster Care Co-operative. We hope you like it!
Our values, as a not-for-profit, are very important to us – so we’ve highlighted those too in this section.
The Fostering With Us section has been edited to offer clear and concise information about becoming a foster carer with us, and we’ve added some feedback from our foster carers and care leavers too.
Our accessibility button is located on the left side of the screen, no matter where you are on the site. It’s there to adapt the site in a number of ways including options to make the text larger or to read the page out audibly.
For those interested in fostering, there is now a floating ‘Become a carer’ button on the right-hand side of the screen. This means that you can have a good look around our site, and make a no-obligation preliminary fostering enquiry at any time.
So, have a good look around, we hope you like what you see – and we’re always here if you have any questions.
In August 2019, members of our young persons’ groups in the North East and Yorkshire came together to discuss Team Fostering’s environmental impact as an organisation, and to think in depth about how the agency, and our foster families, could improve in these areas.
With climate change and environmental champions like Greta Thunburg gaining high profile attention in the media, our young people were inspired to take positive action and formed an Environmental Task Force. Members of Teamies, the North East group, and Project Listen, the Yorkshire group, linked up to explore the environmental challenges the world is currently facing and to look for achievable solutions.
The groups travelled to Dalby Forest in North Yorkshire and put their minds to work straight away on recommendations for the organisation, as well as a reusable bag design initiative, before completing activities including archery, ropework and climbing. The key focus of the day was to reduce plastic waste and the young people put together some top tips on how to reduce plastic use at home, as well as useful feedback for Team Fostering’s board of directors on reducing its waste, carbon footprint and general environmental impact.
Smart ideas sourced by the group included ‘using public transport instead of the car’, ‘growing your own fruit and vegetables’ and ‘getting involved in a local litter pick’. The young people were also set the task of designing a colourful, engaging image to be printed on a reusable cotton shopping bag, which would then be gifted to foster carers. Ellie, aged 13 from the North East group, had her winning design selected by the wider group to be printed on the bags. You can see the group's choice above. Ellie said “We [the young people of Team Fostering] are trying to help save the world; if you see the world as we do, you will try as well.”
The finished bags arrived in the regional offices in January 2020 and were distributed to fostering households very soon after, along with facts and useful information from the group on recycling and reducing plastic waste. Only a few remained, with those quickly purchased by members of Team Fostering staff. The popular design went down a storm with everyone who received one.
You can find out more about the work Team Fostering does with young people on our Education and Support page here.
The Medicines Evaluation Unit (MEU) presented us with a cheque for £2,688.28, raised by the during its two year charity partnership with the Together Trust.
MEU, which is based on the Wythenshawe Hospital site in south Manchester, is one of the UK’s leading contract research organisations, possessing extensive pharmaceutical, scientific and clinical expertise.
David Rogers, MEU Director of Operations, said: “We are committed to supporting local charities and as a Manchester-based business it’s important for us to give back to the local community and support worthy causes.
“We select our dedicated charity every two years by inviting each member of staff to nominate, then vote for their chosen charity, and the Together Trust was selected for the two year period of 2018/2019.
“We’ve been delighted to have supported the Together Trust over the past two years as we believe that the care, support and special education of children and adults, including those who need additional support such as those with autism, learning disabilities or complex health needs, is a truly worthwhile cause.”
“As a company we also benefited from raising money for the Together Trust. Fundraising activities raised staff morale and brought different company departments together, in particular our Charity Christmas Market, where MEU staff and volunteers hosted their own stalls, selling a range of items including baked goods, handmade gifts and jewellery.
“We also sold locally produced honey, as part of the Bee in the City/Sneezebee trail in July 2018 and donated all proceeds to the Together Trust.
“We really enjoyed visiting the Together Trust’s Inscape House School and Cafe, where we saw first-hand the great work and attention given by staff in supporting and caring for children and young adults with autism. We’re delighted to celebrate the Together Trust’s 150th anniversary this year, which is such a great achievement for the charity.”
Alicen Thorn, Corporate Fundraiser at the Together Trust, said: “I was really impressed by all the fundraising efforts at the MEU, they were so professional and so much fun at the same time.
“Everyone at MEU was so approachable, friendly and clearly had the interests of the people we support at heart. We’re really grateful for all their hard work and commitment and we will certainly be putting their generous donation to good use.
“We support individuals with diverse and complex needs. To do this we need support from corporate partners like MEU. Donations like theirs help provide specialist equipment, extra activities, additional support from specialist staff and support for families.
“I’ll be keeping them updated on all the good that’s done with the money they’ve raised and we’re delighted that a team of MEU staff will take part in the Together Trust’s Hotel Football Tournament this June.”
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