This is the second of two blogs about Lincolnshire Foster Care Association. Lizette is from Lincolnshire County Council's fostering service. You can read the first blog here.
Hi my name is Jackie and I am the chairperson of the Lincolnshire Foster Care Association. Establishing our FCA has been an incredibly positive experience for all involved. This blog will share the process we went through and where we hope the FCA will make a difference in the years to come.
The process began in 2014. The Recruitment Team Manager for Lincolnshire County Council was tasked with discussing how foster carers could support each other as part of the council’s involvement with The Fostering Network's, Department for Education funded recruitment project.
Following several months of steering group meetings and consultation with foster carers, armed with “A Stronger Voice” and several examples of established FCAs, we decided to go ahead and form Lincolnshire Foster Care Association.
From September 2014 we met as a group monthly to put together a constitution, business plan and organise the official launch of the association.We had a healthy diverse committee of twelve which included foster carers covering most aspects of fostering, ranging from foster carers newly registered to foster carers who had over fifteen years’ experience.
We launched on 7 March 2015 at the Lincolnshire FAB Awards (Fantastic, Amazing, Brilliant) which is a yearly event to celebrate the achievements of children in public care to popular acclaim.
A key objective of the FCA is to support foster carers. Plans are in place to meet with senior managers of Lincolnshire County Council Children’s Services four times a year to enable us to work in partnership, share information, problem solve and open up good communication and consultation.
Our plan is to set up six support groups for foster carers across the county of Lincolnshire:
- a peer support group for birth and adoptive children of foster carers
- peer mentoring for new carers,
- a consultation and working group working in partnership with the recruitment team to influence recruitment activity
- a creative group to establish our own website
Others will be responsible for identifying and ensuring foster carers attend training events, and a group leading on the organisation of a foster care conference.
Since our launch in March we have supported our foster carers to help maintain a placement, avoided a foster carer deregistering, and supported recruitment drives. We have been involved in consultation with the recruitment team to update the county council website, supported the permanence campaign and we will be part of ‘A Night with Lincolnshire Foster Carers’ to link in with Foster Care Fortnight.
We know we have a busy and challenging time ahead of us but the benefits this will bring to foster carers makes it all worthwhile.
The Fostering Network brings together everyone who is involved in the lives of fostered children and young people to lead, inspire, motivate and support them to make foster care better. To support our work visit www.fostering.net/donate or to donate £10 text FOST37 £10 to 70070.