Member News: Team Fostering - How are social work caseloads established to meet the needs of foster carers?
By Patsy Wainwright, Team Manager
At Team Fostering, foster carers are allocated a designated supervising social worker once they have been approved at the agency. We will not change a carer’s social worker unless necessary, to ensure consistency and to allow the fostering family and the staff member to build a relationship and strong level of familiarity.
As an agency team we want all carers to feel that their social worker has time to support them and the children that they are looking after. The Team Managers carefully monitor how many families are allocated to each worker to make sure that caseloads do not increase to a point where support and availability offered to each family is hindered. We have systems that allow us to balance workloads between staff. As each new carer is approved we consider which office is most local to them to ensure their designated social worker is close by, and then we look at which social workers have capacity for a new family. If all members of the team are supervising the maximum number of fostering households for providing thorough support, the agency considers whether additional hours or staff are needed.
This is incredibly important to Team Fostering as we pride ourselves on our provision of direct, comprehensive support that is delivered by staff who know the families that they supervise well. In turn, this increases the stability and level of support provided to the children and young people in their care by increasing their own support and satisfaction levels. It means that if our carers are struggling, they can contact their worker and know that their issue will be dealt with promptly and professionally, in a timely but calm manner.
Team Fostering is a not-for-profit, independent fostering agency with offices across the North East, Yorkshire and East Midlands and a mission statement of ‘Putting Children’s Futures First’. We pride ourselves on offering comprehensive support, innovative training and competitive allowances, all strengthened by our not-for-profit status that allows us to invest surplus funds into the services provided.
If you’d like to speak with us about becoming a foster carer, you can reach us:
By calling 0800 292 2003
Via email at email@example.com
By submitting an online enquiry form here
By Steve Elliff, Education and Support Service Manager (Yorkshire and East Midlands)
'We all know that many young people in care face barriers to succeeding in education. Indeed, this is why we have an Education and Support Service at Team Fostering. In addition to supporting young people with their education whilst they are with Team Fostering, we also encourage them to think about what their education might look like once they have left care.
In 2013, only 6% of care leavers in England accessed higher education, compared to approximately 40% of the general population.
We know that leaving care is a big change for any young person to overcome, and this life event often falls at the same time that young people are thinking about, or planning to go to, university. University is not the right pathway for everyone, but I would challenge every foster carer to at least sow the seed with their young person, as it could be something that is right for them, whether they embark on the journey now or later in life.
Some obvious barriers that limit the chance of going to university include failing exams, dropping out of college or leaving with lower grades than expected, but I've met care leavers who've gone to university who overcame these very situations. For example, some re-sat exams or completed Access to Higher Education courses, while others have completed voluntary work or other placements that have given them a different entry route.
The following support is also available:
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 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 email@example.com
‘The difference Team Fostering made’
An account from Thomas, who was looked after by Team Fostering carers in the North East, in celebration of The Fostering Network's Foster Care Fortnight 2019 theme: #changeafuture
When I was placed with Helen and Neil, my carers at Team Fostering, they welcomed me straight away as part of their family.
While I was with them, the agency became like my extended family. The other foster carers and social workers were like my aunts and uncles, and the other kids were like friends, a little bit like cousins. We would see each other at Team’s parties and activities.
While I was in their care, Helen and Neil got me my first ever passport. With them I was able to visit Italy and Paris. They even put up with my obsession with Lady Gaga!
With them, I discovered who I am and what I can achieve. They really helped me when I came out, and they really helped me to dream big.
Helen and Neil pushed me to work hard at college and it was so worth it.
A holiday in Hong Kong cemented my dream of studying in Shanghai. Without their support it wouldn’t have been possible, but I made it to China!
I ended up taking a year of studying in Shanghai after I left Helen and Neil’s care. It was amazing and even though I was no longer placed with them, I knew Helen and Neil were always at the end of the phone. If I needed help I only had to ask.
I’m now living in Wales, completing a Chinese Studies degree. I still ring Helen and Neil once a week.
They always said I was part of their family, even after I left their care as foster carers, and they will always be part of mine. I feel lucky to have them.
Hi, I’m T. I am 18 and I have been in care for the last 4 years, recently moving into semi-independent living in Rotherham, just before my 18th birthday.
This is my story.
Coming into care was scary, we all have different reasons for being a looked-after child, but it is for the best if our circumstances at home aren’t great or we are at risk of harm. Our first steps into our new home for a few months or years are scary, we don’t expect it to be easy and it isn’t, but we eventually overcome that feeling thanks to the support we get. I personally think that the hardest part is leaving care and leaving the home we spent most of our time in, Christmas, bonfire night, Halloween and many more memories we make. We make a bond with our foster carers that is unbreakable at times, but sometimes they aren’t as strong due to reasons that are from both sides.
Our first thoughts are, ‘are we going to have someone to talk to?’ The answer to that daunting question is yes you do get someone to talk to, you get a decent amount of support, there is always support and a person that you’re able to talk to when you need to. Staff at Team Fostering are only a phone call away, your foster carers are only downstairs. Teachers at your sometimes new school are always very supportive of your move to your new home, and maybe your parents if you still have contact.
My experience of being in foster care is that it is scary, the problems from your birth home may follow you to your new home, but there is always a solution and there is always help if you need it and support. In my time at my previous foster carer’s home I experienced some problems, for example my foster mother became critically ill and she was in a coma, but she had numerous operations that in the end saved her life☺️YAY! I was supported and helped to cope with these problems, everyone at Team Fostering made sure I was safe and wasn’t worrying about anything!
At Team Fostering they held so many activities for children to keep them happy. There were activities such as Diggerland, Drayton Manor, Lightwater Valley, laser tag, swimming, ice skating, and many others. We even have a residential that kids are able to go on to learn life skills, making our own food, having our own room with responsibly to keep it clean, different activities throughout the weekend. At all of these activities there are new children to talk to, interact with and bond with! They are all so sweet and polite and they all make you feel wanted and welcomed!
Leaving care was scary but we all have to do it one day! The feeling of responsibility can be horrible but at the same time it sounds great! It’s hard living on your own, bills, budgeting so we have enough money to sort out our bills and food. But, the thought of finding my own place and starting my life and children is an amazing thought and feeling and I love thinking about it!
My journey towards my independence started at supported housing in Rotherham. Here I am provided with a key worker, she supports me with budgeting (I’m not very good at this), attending appointments, cooking, workshops and many other things. There are staff there 24/7 for support and to make sure every child and young adult is safe and feels safe. There are also numerous other accommodations that you can choose from once you leave or are ready to leave care.
Personally I LOVE TEAM FOSTERING! Being a care kid has changed my life and changed my views on everything in life!
It’s National Siblings Day and we’re promoting keeping siblings together when they are in need of a foster home.
Many different types of children need looked after and this can include groups or pairs of brothers and sisters. Foster carers can provide a loving and caring home to siblings helping keep them together rather than separate them to live in different homes. Foster carers with one spare room can look after a pair of same-sex siblings, while those with more than spare room could offer mixed-sex siblings or a larger group of brothers and sisters a home.
At Team Fostering, we believe in doing our utmost to keep brothers and sisters together unless there is a reason that this shouldn’t happen. Often this is the only tie children have to their families and to separate them could create anxiety and instability. When children are first placed in a fostering home they are likely to be frightened and having their siblings with them can be a comfort and a sense of normality during what is a turbulent moment in their young lives, creating better emotional wellbeing and a smoother settling in period.
Fostering siblings can be extremely rewarding for foster carers, too. At Team Fostering there are currently a number of brothers and sisters living with our foster carers. In fact, one of our foster carers is currently looking after a sibling group of 4!
Team Fostering is an independent, not-for-profit agency that offers a very comprehensive support structure, innovative training opportunities and competitive fees and allowances. If you would like to learn more about providing a home for siblings, you can speak to us in a number of ways:
Call our Recruitment Administrator, Sam, on 0800 292 2003
Email our friendly team via firstname.lastname@example.org
Submit your details on our online enquiry form
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) Are they clear about the support they offer?
Ask about the support the agency offers. How long have the staff team been in place? Is the agency happy to provide you with current foster carer 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 a low staff turnover and with out of hours’ workers getting to know all foster carers. 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 their Ofsted reports
Most agencies will share their Ofsted reports with you on their websites. If they don’t, you will be able to locate reports yourself on Ofsted’s website. Read them in detail, recognise the positive comments and consider how Ofsted perceive the agency as a whole, what local authority social workers have said about their staff and how foster carers report on life with the agency.
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.
3) Look at their social media pages
Current foster carers likely follow their agency’s social media accounts. Does it seem like the agency operates with a true sense of community? Has its current foster carers left Facebook reviews or comments on posts? Are pictures of staff visible or does everything look a little bit like a collage of royalty-free photos?
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) Read between the lines
Is their website upfront about the types of fostering on offer? Do they explain fees and allowances in a clear and honest fashion?
Our fees and allowances are available on our website and we have a whole 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'.
5) Consider how important it is to you that the agency operates in an ethical way
Many prospective foster carers might not know that there are some agencies operate 'for-profit' and some that operate as not-for-profit organisations.
Before I worked in the fostering industry I assumed all fostering agencies would be not-for-profit. Working at Team Fostering is particularly rewarding for me because the agency is a truly ethical, not-for-profit one that invests any surplus funds into putting children’s futures first. Our staff and foster carers value this ethical approach to fostering immensely, and I’m proud to be part of an agency like ours. Not-for-profit agencies are able to offer similar fees, support and training as for-profit 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.
Speak with the agency 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.
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 Administrator, Sam, on 0800 292 2003
Email us via email@example.com
When you’re considering becoming a foster carer there are some standard eligibility criteria that we, as an independent agency, need to ensure you meet. For example, we need our foster carers to have a spare room that could be used as a bedroom for a child, and be able to drive with access to a car for attending training and taking children to and from school.
However, there are still some myths that people believe when it comes to fostering and eligibility, and recently we’ve been hearing from people who thought that being single meant they were unable to be considered as a foster carer. At Team Fostering, all of our fostering families are completely different! Some are married or unmarried couples, single male or female carers, some with adult children living at home and some who’ve never had children. Being single certainly does not impact your ability to provide a loving and stable home for a child who needs it.
If you are thinking about fostering as a single carer, we would encourage you to think about the support network that you have around you. Do you have close friends or family who could offer you support in challenging times? We have many foster carers who are single and the agency provides a great support package for all of our carers. If you enquire about fostering, we will work with you to consider who in your life might offer that support, whether practical or emotional.
Once you become a foster carer you will be allocated a dedicated Supervising Social Worker, who will visit you fortnightly for the first year, and then review the frequency with you and the local authority social worker/s for any child you are looking after. We also host regular carer support groups, activities and workshops, that allow you to form relationships with other foster carers and their networks from the very start of your fostering journey. Many of our foster carers become close friends due to their shared experiences of fostering and time spent together at agency events, and they are incredibly welcoming to any new foster carers at the agency.
In summary, even if you are a single carer you will never be alone in your journey, with a team of fellow foster carers, social workers and other agency staff that are with you every step of the way.
If you’re interested in learning more about fostering, or if you’d like to ask any questions, you can reach us in the following ways:
By telephone on 0800 292 2003
By submitting an online enquiry form here
By emailing us via firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of our single foster carers have agreed to speaking with prospective carers about the fostering role, our agency and how they find fostering. If you'd like to arrange an informal discussion with someone, just get in touch and let us know.
Karen and John have fostered for Team Fostering in the East Midlands for almost 4 years, and shared their fostering journey with us...
"Fostering was something that we thought about doing over 20 years ago, but with our own children we wanted to spend time bringing them up before starting our journey as foster carers.
We loved raising our family and we wanted to share the safety, love, respect and guidance that we had together with a child or young person who hadn’t had that in their own life. Basically, we wanted to make a difference.
During our time as a fostering family we have learnt so much about ourselves. It’s made us realise how strong and grounded we are as a team and the tight bond that we share. Sharing this with a child and bringing them into a family that cares about them and wants them to succeed is so rewarding and has developed us as a family and individually. It’s brought out qualities that we didn’t realise we had.
The role is just amazing. We feel so humbled in our journey to date. For young people to come into your home nervous, anxious and uncertain and for you to see them grow in confidence, self-worth and self-belief is beyond words.
We are really happy with Team Fostering as an agency. From our first point of contact when we first enquired about becoming foster carers we received openness, honesty and respect. There wasn’t any pushiness or intense pressure to recruit us, we were able to ask our questions, hear the information and then allowed to step back and form our own opinions and conclusion. The staff we spoke to were knowledgeable and professional, reassuring us that no questions were silly questions. Now we’re approved and working with the agency, we really feel like part of a team. A team whose aims and objectives are to meet the needs of each and every child. We're so happy we chose to foster with Team.
Our advice to those considering fostering would be that it’s not something to rush into and it’s important to speak with Team Fostering about how the role will impact your life. Consider those around you and how they might feel about it, particularly if you have your own children. It’s such a rewarding role but not without some challenges, however the agency supports you through these times.
Fostering suits us, we love the lifestyle and looking after our young person and the rest of our family full time. We have more time to invest to the young person in our care which means we can help them with all parts of his life. Having time to listen, guide and support him to make positive life choices and develop his skills is wonderful and we’re so glad we began our journey with Team."
We're on the lookout for foster carers across the North East, Yorkshire and East Midlands.
Whether you have some fostering experience or are completely new to the role we offer innovate training, comprehensive support and competitive fees to help you flourish in your role.
For an informal chat about fostering, our agency and how you could become a foster carer, you can speak with us in the following ways:
Complete our online enquiry form here
Call our Recruitment Administrator, Sam, on 0800 292 2003
Email us via email@example.com
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