Robert Tapsfield has left The Fostering Network after 10 years as the charity's chief executive. During his time at the helm Robert successfully led The Fostering Network through a period of growth and change, including the achievement of wide ranging campaign successes, most recently the right for young people to stay with their foster families beyond the age of 18 in England, Scotland and Wales.
Robert Tapsfield said “I am immensely proud of the many successes and achievements of The Fostering Network over the last 10 years, but these have only been possible because of the dedication and skill of staff across the organisation. Today The Fostering Network plays a major role in supporting and influencing foster care across the UK and is highly regarded by foster carers, fostering services, national and local governments and the sector.”
Chair of the board Philip Brown paid tribute to the former chief executive, saying: “Robert has led The Fostering Network successfully over the last decade, and has helped the organisation develop and take centre stage in the fostering arena. On behalf of the board of trustees I would like to thank him for his leadership and dedication.”
President Jim Bond added: “Robert worked tirelessly in this role to ensure that the voice of foster carers and fostered young people is heard. Without his pioneering vision, enthusiasm, commitment and tenacity many of the improvements in fostering we now take for granted would not exist.”
Richard Drean has taken over as interim chief executive until a permanent chief executive is recruited. Richard brings well proven management experience and capability and will be helping the organisation to fulfil its strategic objectives and to achieve already established plans during the period while the board appoints a permanent chief executive.
Meanwhile in Wales, Freda Lewis has retired after seven years as director. During her time with the charity, Freda played an integral role in bringing support foster care to Wales, the introduction of minimum allowances for foster carers and legislation to allow young people to stay with their foster carers until the age of 21.
Freda said: “The Fostering Network is dynamic and successful and has helped bring about real change in fostering in Wales. I feel privileged to have led the organisation over the past seven years, and would like to thank my colleagues and thousands of members – foster carers and fostering services – across Wales who have helped us to create this change.
“I wish The Fostering Network all the very best for the future, and will be watching proudly as it continues to make a real difference to fostered children and the families that care for them.”
Freda's replacement Emily Warren, who is currently head of the Welsh Government's Social Services Improvement Agency and was formerly policy lead for health and social care at the Welsh Local Government Association, will be joining the organisation in mid October.