On behalf of The Fostering Network may I wish you a very peaceful and happy 2020, and thank you for all that you do every day for children and young people living in foster care. Thank you too for working alongside us as together we seek to make foster care the very best it can be for fostered children and young people and the families caring for them.
Given that it’s 2020, I’ve seen lots of puns already about organisations needing to have clear (2020) vision about their work and what it is that they are trying to achieve. There will be plenty of time to update you on our plans for 2020, including a new strategy, but I want to use this opportunity to look back rather than forwards, and to reflect on a very busy 2019 for The Fostering Network.
Over the year we’ve continued to innovate in how fostering is delivered across the UK – there are many more Mockingbird programme constellations across the UK and our early intervention project Step Up Step Down is going from strength to strength and won the Family Support Award at the Children and Young People Now Awards. Our Walking Tall project in Scotland was also shortlisted at the same awards.
Many of these innovative projects are funded by individual and corporate supporters, which is why we’ve been delighted to launch our new partnership scheme. You can find out more about this here.
In addition, our State of the Nation’s Foster Care survey hit the front pages when it was released back in February. And it is now enabling us to campaign for and influence fostering policy and practice on a whole range of issues from allowances to post-18 care. We were particularly pleased that, in the autumn, the Department for Education in England announced a further £10 million for Staying Put.We will continue to call on the Government to monitor the implementation of Staying Put and to ensure that the scheme is properly costed and resourced in the multi-year spending review carried out in 2020, including introducing a Staying Put minimum allowance which covers the cost of looking after a young person.
During 2019 our information and advice teams have supported thousands of foster carers and fostering service staff through our helplines, training courses, and website, as well as face-to-face.
The Fostering Network wants to see a society where the importance of fostering is understood, recognised and supported. And that’s why we’re delighted that our 2019 Foster Care Fortnight campaign was our biggest ever, reaching over 30 million people.
Many of you reading this have been involved in some or all of these things, and for that I want to say a huge thank you.
If you would like to get more involved in 2020, please do sign up to our campaigners’ email list, adding your voice to thousands of others – or why not share your fostering story with our campaigns and media teams; and as a charity we rely on the generosity of our supporters, so if you feel able, please make a donation to support our work or commit to doing a fundraising event with us.
As we head into this new year, may I thank you again – whether you are part of a fostering family or part of the wider team working with children and young people living with foster families, you are doing something extraordinary, so thank you.
Chief Executive, The Fostering Network