Our Cardiff-based team work directly with our members throughout Wales. We support foster carers and other professionals by delivering training, learning, research and advice and information services. Working with a range of partners across academia, statutory and third sector and including ADSS Cymru, Cascade and our Confidence in Care consortium partners, we have unrivaled expertise and knowledge to support excellence in foster care.
Confidence in Care
Confidence in Care is a five-year, Big Lottery funded programme aimed at training 1,500 foster carers in Wales to raise their Confidence and improve placement stability.
Based on social learning theory, the course has been designed by clinicians from King’s College, London. The course runs for 12 weeks and teaches foster carers different techniques to build positive relationships with the children and young people in their care.
Working with our partners from Action for Children, Barnardo’s and TACT care, we deliver courses in each of the 22 local authorities in Wales, in a central location that is easily accessible to all participants. Sessions last 4 hours a week with a free lunch provided.
The course is open to both new and experienced foster carers, kinship carers, special guardians and residential centre staff working for local authorities or independent fostering providers. Participants must have a young person in their care between the ages of 2 to 18 where the placement is forecast to last for the duration of the 12-week course.
The programme, funded from the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Social Services Grant Scheme, focuses on the principles of a stronger voice, a more skilled workforce and improved access to information, advice, and assistance as enshrined in the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.
The programme is split into seven strands of work that over the course of the programme we will be focusing on. They are:
- Recruitment and retention of foster carers – We work closely with local authorities, supporting them to improve recruitment and retention rates, drawing on our many years’ experience of what works in Wales.
- Implementation of a Foster Carers’ Charter for Wales – The charter sets out the roles and responsibilities of foster carers and social services. With this understanding in place, foster carers and social services can focus on improving the experiences of looked after children and young people
- Fostering Achievement Masterclasses – Based on recent research has highlighted the need for specialist training in Wales, Fostering Excellence will deliver masterclasses to foster carers, school staff, social workers and wider professionals across Wales, which will cover specialist topics such as SEN; the impact of attachment on learning; speech, language and communication; and ADHD.
- Thrive: Young Voices, a dedicated magazine for looked after children – We work with young people to produce and publish the Thrive magazines. Acting as an important form of support for young people in foster care, it also enables young people to have their voices heard.
- Young People and Foster Carer Ambassadors – Development of Wales’ first foster carer and youth ambassador scheme in fostering. Ambassadors have an important role in offering peer to peer support, promote fostering whilst speaking at events and working with other professionals to have a genuine role in championing fostering services.
- Fosterline Wales advice line – Now in its eleventh year, Fostering Excellence continues to build on the success of Fosterline Wales, increasing provision of information, advice, and support with the development of a new online information hub.
- Our Comprehensive Range of Training - designed to meet learning and development needs of foster carers, social worker, managers and other professionals within the team around the child.
Our Fostering Wellbeing programme aims to help all participants, irrespective of professional status, to identify the core values and principles which will help children and young people who are looked after to thrive. These can then be shared among all members of the fostering team to create a common approach to fostering.
Training and Consultancy in Wales
Our training is designed to meet the identified needs of the team around the child, supporting children and young people who are looked after in Wales to achieve their best possible outcomes. We are constantly updating and adding to our portfolio of courses for foster carers, supervising social workers and professionals in the education and health sectors.
All of our training can be delivered in house for your agency and jointly or regionally commissioned, while our most popular subjects are included in our annual open course events programme.
Our highly skilled and experienced associate trainers will also develop bespoke training and consultancy programmes for your organisation.
We are currently working with Social Care Wales, the National Fostering Framework and ACE's support hub to ensure that all our training meets the requirements of nationally agreed standards and frameworks.
Fosterline Wales - Information, advice, and assistance
The Fostering Network is able to provide unrivalled bilingual information, advice and support to foster carers and other professionals. We operate the free bilingual Fosterline Wales helpline, open from 9.30am – 12.30pm daily.
We also operate an independent support service for local authorities and independent fostering providers, to provide an independent advocate when needed to foster carers.
For some time there has been a strong consensus in Wales that there is a need for a National Fostering Framework. Through working with Welsh Government and colleagues from across the fostering sector we have been vociferous in our influencing activity to address some of the key challenges that are threatening to undermine the effectiveness of fostering services in Wales.
For example, the involvement which young people have in their care planning issues to do with recruitment and retention of foster carers, the support, protection, status, respect and recompense afforded to foster carers and, in particular, the relationships between local authorities and independent fostering providers.
As a member of the Strategic Steering Group associated to The National Fostering Framework, we have been pleased to contribute to a strategic plan aimed at transforming fostering provision in Wales.
We need to be assured that foster carers will be available to children and young people who need them, in sufficient numbers, to play their crucial role in providing children in care with the health, well-being and future prospects they need and deserve.
Now in phase three of the work programme, you can read all about the headline messages from the National Fostering Framework here.
The National Fostering Framework Wales foster care allowances and payments survey 2016-17
The Fostering Framework in Wales Phase One report identified the payment of foster care allowances and fees as a key issue. It was recognised that the current pattern across Wales would present particular challenges but that these should not be ignored.
As part of the Phase Two development of the National Fostering Framework, The Fostering Network was commissioned by the strategic advisory group for the National Fostering Framework to undertake a survey of local authorities 2016-17 foster carer payment structures across Wales.
The subsequent report has demonstrated the scale of inequality of financial arrangements for foster carers across Wales, in particular in relation to fees.
Education and looked after children
The Fostering Network is working closely with Welsh Government in order to support foster carers who already play a vital role in raising aspirations and supporting children in care. Click here to read about our recent work including our guide ‘A foster carer’s guide to the education of looked after children’ and the ‘Making it Happen’, 'Greater Expectations' and 'Working Hand in Hand' magazines for foster carers.
The emotional and mental health needs of children and young people in care
In September 2017, the Fostering Network took part in a response to the Welsh Government’s (Children and Young People’s Education Committee) Inquiry into the emotional and mental health of children in Wales. Consultation work was carried out with foster carers from across Wales and a comprehensive consultation report was prepared. This consultation report informed our five page submission to the inquiry.
In addition to the response to Welsh Government, an in-depth report has been written and published in which details the further issues raised relating to the emotional and mental health needs of children and young people who are looked after. It not only draws on foster carers views, opinions and experience but also upon the broad, collective experience of The Fostering Network, including discussions with a range of professionals in health, social services and education, and as stated, the outcomes of a specially convened focus group of foster carers and birth parents of fostered children to explore the issues raised in the terms of reference of the Inquiry.