FosterTalk

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by FosterTalk's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from FosterTalk is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.fostertalk.org

BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
22 | GLADSTONE CHILD CARE
The reasons underpinning this change
were to offer further promotional
prospects for all of our staff while
aiding staff retention and supporting
our senior staff during their shift to
become project workers. We have
always sought to promote internally
where possible, whether for a senior
practitioner or team leader role.
As an organisation, we believe in
the capabilities of our staff; they
have the opportunity to achieve
promotion, learn new skills and
developprofessionally.
I am pleased to add that in December
2018 we successfully recruited three
senior practitioners from within our
staff teams.
One of the key challenges going
forward, not only for us, but also for
the wider residential childcare sector, is
staff recruitment. We work alongside
other organisations within Fife who
provide residential childcare, and
during the past 12 months, recruiting
staff into this field of work has proved
to be very challenging.
The role of a residential childcare
worker requires compassion, empathy,
knowledge and skill. The dedication of
our staff, and their investment in our
young people, is consistent. Striving to
recruit resilient staff with the potential
to fulfil this role is proving extremely
difficult. Recently, the number of
applicants applying for this role has
been low and the number of those
with experience or qualifications has
been even lower.
While the factors behind this challenge
are unclear, there are some key issues
we have considered:
»the level of historical abuse that is
being reported and investigated;
»salary, including terms and
conditions;
»the qualification criteria now
required;
»the demand for further qualifications
– Level 9 becoming a requirement in
Scotland, for instance.
Financial constraints are widespread
throughout the UK, and local
authorities who place young people
into our care face their own financial
challenges. Residential childcare
organisations now tender for contracts
and as a result they are tied into
costings, which leads to constraints
around salaries and increments.
To attract a skilled, qualified and
knowledgeable workforce that will
work shifts, weekends and public
holidays, the terms and conditions
need to meet the demands of the
role and recognise the hard work and
dedication that is required to be a
residential childcare worker.
We believe in
the capabilities
of our staff;
they have the
opportunity to
achieve
promotion,
learn new
skills and
develop
professionally
Teamwork leads to
success
23FOSTERTALK |
HEALTH & SOCIAL WORK
Managing Director SteveStockley
Nadhim Zahawi MP, former Minister of State for Children, Young People and
Families, visiting Martin James Foundation to meet staff at JF and FosterTalk, as
well as foster carers and social workers
Established in 2004 in response to a perceived need
for foster carers to have access to a greater degree
of independent support, FosterTalk helps more than
20,000 households throughout the UK. It provides a range of
services for fostering households, including access to fostering
advisors, legal and medical advice, counselling, legal expenses
insurance, tax and benefits advice and access to a wide range
of lifestyle discounts. Managing Director Steve Stockley tells
The Parliamentary Review
that the organisation also provides
face-to-face support for foster carers subject to allegations
or serious complaints and has delivered a Department for
Education Service – Fosterline England – since2013.
Our ethos is that by providing high-quality, independent support to foster carers,
we can enable them to focus on their crucial role of caring for vulnerable children
and young people. We believe that every child should have the opportunity to live
in a caring family environment and to have access to all the same opportunities as
other children and young people in the community. By supporting foster carers, we
can help them achieve the very best outcomes for looked-after children.
Our small staff team consists of a range of individuals, with a variety of
backgrounds. We are committed to developing the skills of young people and
currently have three apprentices working with our team. All our advice services
are provided by qualified practitioners and our whole team is trained to support
anxious callers and help them get the right advice. We have been awarded
FACTS ABOUT
FOSTERTALK
»Managing Director:
SteveStockley
»Professional Advisor:
JackieEdwards
»Established in 2004
»Based in Birmingham
»Services: Independent support
for foster carers
»No. of employees: 17
FosterTalk
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
24 | FOSTERTALK
the Customer Service Excellence
Award and the Helplines Partnership
Quality Standard in recognition of
theseefforts.
Expanding our reach
FosterTalk is a not-for profit
organisation where any surplus income
is reinvested into the support of
foster parents and research into the
development of the fostering role.
FosterTalk is a member of the Martin
James group of companies associated
with the Martin James Foundation to
deliver family based care for children
and young people.
We have built a reputation with local
authorities and fostering services
which is based on providing quality
services and products that add value
to the fostering environment. We
feel we would be able to open up
further opportunities to the outcomes
of children and young people within
the care system if more funding
wasavailable.
Furthermore, our association with the
Martin James Foundation will provide
greater scope to support research
projects within academia in an attempt
to inform policy with the Department
for Education and further our aim to
become the UK Centre of Excellence
for practice with looked after children.
All fostering services need to find
solutions to the current pressures
exerted on the demand for foster
carers. The number of children
adopted from the care system has
fallen over the past few years so more
children are reliant on long-term foster
care as their route to permanency.
This is positive for the majority of the
children in long term care, however
increasing numbers of foster carers
are being asked to become special
guardians for these children, effectively
removing them from the pool of
available foster carers.
Special guardians
There has been a national increase in
the number of special guardianship
orders made to both extended family
members and foster carers over the
past few years. While a child is in foster
care, the local authority and fostering
services have an obligation to provide
guidance and support to the foster
carer. When a special guardianship
order is made this changes and often
the guardian needs to manage the
relationship between themselves, the
child and the birth family without
anysupport.
Furthermore, special guardians are
at a similar risk to foster carers of
having an allegation made against
them. In response to this FosterTalk
have introduced a special guardians
membership which provides legal
insurance to cover legal assistance
including court costs, interview under
caution, civil court costs and discharge
of the order challenges, in addition
to counselling, medical, tax and
benefitsservices.
Striving to improve outcomes
Under current legislation, foster carers
are unable to work for more than one
fostering service. The current demand
for placements with foster carers could
Some of the FosterTalk
team
We believe
that every
child should
have the
opportunity to
live in a caring
family
environment
and to have
access to all
the same
opportunities
as other
children and
young people
in the
community
BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
24 | FOSTERTALK
the Customer Service Excellence
Award and the Helplines Partnership
Quality Standard in recognition of
theseefforts.
Expanding our reach
FosterTalk is a not-for profit
organisation where any surplus income
is reinvested into the support of
foster parents and research into the
development of the fostering role.
FosterTalk is a member of the Martin
James group of companies associated
with the Martin James Foundation to
deliver family based care for children
and young people.
We have built a reputation with local
authorities and fostering services
which is based on providing quality
services and products that add value
to the fostering environment. We
feel we would be able to open up
further opportunities to the outcomes
of children and young people within
the care system if more funding
wasavailable.
Furthermore, our association with the
Martin James Foundation will provide
greater scope to support research
projects within academia in an attempt
to inform policy with the Department
for Education and further our aim to
become the UK Centre of Excellence
for practice with looked after children.
All fostering services need to find
solutions to the current pressures
exerted on the demand for foster
carers. The number of children
adopted from the care system has
fallen over the past few years so more
children are reliant on long-term foster
care as their route to permanency.
This is positive for the majority of the
children in long term care, however
increasing numbers of foster carers
are being asked to become special
guardians for these children, effectively
removing them from the pool of
available foster carers.
Special guardians
There has been a national increase in
the number of special guardianship
orders made to both extended family
members and foster carers over the
past few years. While a child is in foster
care, the local authority and fostering
services have an obligation to provide
guidance and support to the foster
carer. When a special guardianship
order is made this changes and often
the guardian needs to manage the
relationship between themselves, the
child and the birth family without
anysupport.
Furthermore, special guardians are
at a similar risk to foster carers of
having an allegation made against
them. In response to this FosterTalk
have introduced a special guardians
membership which provides legal
insurance to cover legal assistance
including court costs, interview under
caution, civil court costs and discharge
of the order challenges, in addition
to counselling, medical, tax and
benefitsservices.
Striving to improve outcomes
Under current legislation, foster carers
are unable to work for more than one
fostering service. The current demand
for placements with foster carers could
Some of the FosterTalk
team
We believe
that every
child should
have the
opportunity to
live in a caring
family
environment
and to have
access to all
the same
opportunities
as other
children and
young people
in the
community
25FOSTERTALK |
HEALTH & SOCIAL WORK
be significantly eased if foster carers
were enabled to identify their capacity
to other fostering services.
We are working alongside like-minded
organisations for a solution to the
sufficiency issue and feel with the
advances in artificial intelligence,
this is at our fingertips: it just needs
some bold progression away from
traditionalthinking.
Parity between young people in the
fostering system and their peers needs
to improve. While the implementation
of policies such as “staying put” are
intended to address some of this, they
fail to go far enough. Foster carers
are often forced to make a decision
between supporting the young person
and the need for financial stability.
Funding is reduced within a staying-
put arrangement and young people
leaving the fostering system can be
forced to move out of their stable
foster home far earlier than their
peers. Current legislation enables
previously looked- after children to
be funded within the foster home at
a reduced rate until 21, up to 25 in
certain circumstances, but the current
trend and the financial pressures
mean their peers are not leaving the
family home until their late 20s.
The educational challenges for children
and young people within the care
system are well documented, with
those that experience care having
lower attainment records than
theirpeers.
For many young people, moving on to
higher education an only be achieved
through the goodwill and continuing
unpaid support of their foster parents,
as there is little or no financial support
available to care leavers who wish to
go to university.
This has a correlation with the number
of young people from the age of 18
to 21 that are known in the criminal
justice system. Over half, both male
and female, have a care background.
Expanding our services
Children and young people currently
in the care system have many
additional needs on the whole. Access
to these vital services is becoming
more and more restricted while the
need for them increases. Pressure
on existing budgets, and increased
demand, means longer waiting lists
and greater prioritising, leaving
some children and young people
without the services they require.
We need to encourage the research
and development of these services.
We are looking to work alongside
recognised experts and professionals
to help influence the services
available to children and increase the
servicesoffered.
We strive to inform research and
collaborate with academic institutions,
organisations and fellow charities to
improve the future for all our children
in the care system. Our services will
continue to evolve and meet these
demands wherever we can.
By providing
high-quality,
independent
support to
foster carers, we
can enable them
to focus on their
crucial role of
caring for
vulnerable
children and
young people
Kamarun Kalam, a
Fosterline advisor. Fosterline
is delivered by FosterTalk
on behalf of the DfE
Professional Advisor Jackie
Edwards, who has more
than 30 years of experience
in the fostering sector

www.fostertalk.org

This article was sponsored by FosterTalk. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.



Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development