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News and updates

FosterTalk’s Decade of Success

FosterTalk is reaching a milestone this year – our 10th birthday! We have been supporting foster carers in the UK since 2004. We would like to say a big thank you to our partners and our members for their support and loyalty over the last ten years. We have grown significantly since our early days and now provide independent support to over 21,000 foster carers and work with over 110 fostering providers.

Managing Director, Melody Douglas spearheaded FosterTalk’s development as she recognised the need for independent support for foster carers. “I wanted to provide a whole range of specialised support for foster carers and for their existing family. We focus solely on the provision of support to foster carers so I would like to think that we are at the top of our game, although there is no room for complacency. We are always looking for ways to improve our service and level of support.”

Over the last ten years we have listened to our members and added a number of additional support services. For example, our popular tax and accountancy service and “FISS” (Foster Carers Independent Support Services) supports foster carers facing complaints or allegations. Another change came in 2007 when we became a not for profit company, this means that any profits made are ploughed back into FosterTalk to benefit our members.

Last June, FosterTalk was awarded the contract to deliver Fosterline England which is funded by the Department for Education (DfE). “An awful lot of hard work went into winning the contract,” says Melody, “and we are extremely proud to deliver Fosterline on behalf of the DfE. I hope that the service will continue to support all of those involved in fostering and encourage more people to become foster carers.”

Support and retention of foster carers is at the heart of what FosterTalk does. We are very proud that through FosterTalk’s support, foster carers who were on the verge of resigning reconsidered and continued with their vocation for years to come. Longevity of foster carers provides security and stability for looked after children and young people so we feel that our support is paramount. FosterTalk champions foster care and the needs of foster carers and we will endeavour to do this for the next ten years and for the next decades that follow.

 


 

STOP PRESS – 5th February 2014

Letter from Edward Timpson MP to all foster carers in England

Edward Timpson, Minister for Children and Families has today written to all foster carers in England to advise them about the government reforms that are planned to help make it easier to work as a foster carer. These reforms include:

  • New legal duty on local authorities to provide staying put arrangements;
  • Pupil premium for children in care;
  • Requirements on local authorities to improve the way that day-to-day authority for decision making is delegated to foster carers.

Click here to read the letter
or
Click here to visit the website.

STOP PRESS!

Children's Minister

Edward Timpson, Children’s Minister, congratulates FosterTalk on being awarded the contract to deliver Fosterline England from 25 June 2013...

> Click here to read more

Fosterline

Click here to find out more

 


 

STOP PRESS - CHILDREN TO STAY WITH FOSTER FAMILIES UNTIL 21

 

All children in care will be able to stay with their foster families after they turn 18 following a £40million funding boost and a new legal duty on councils to provide support.

On 4th December; the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove announced that he intends to place a new legal duty on local authorities to provide support for every young person who wants to stay with their foster parents until their 21st birthday - giving local authorities £40million over the next three years to put the support arrangements in place.

Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson, whose own family fostered nearly 90 children, said:

“I know from the many foster children I grew up with how crucial it is for them to be given sufficient time to prepare for life after care.

“A growing number of local authorities already offer young people the choice to stay but with little financial support it can be challenging for their foster families. Now all councils will have to follow their example, and we are giving them £40million towards the cost.

“This is a further reform to our much wider package of support for care leavers including changes to the rules so 16 and 17 year olds remain in care until they are ready to move out and much greater financial support for young people leaving care at 18.

“This will allow the 10,000 young people leaving stable and secure homes to make the transition from care to independence when they are ready, rather than when their council tells them to.”

Children in care typically have much lower educational outcomes and are more likely to be out of education, work and training.  The announcement is the latest in a series of reforms the government has made to improve outcomes for young people leaving care.

Once legally adult, young people can no longer be children in care and can therefore not be fostered. The new clause to the Children and Families Bill, to be laid during Third Reading  will give young people in care the opportunity to remain with their former carers into legal adulthood, enabling them to move to greater independence when they are ready, rather than when they reach a pre-determined age limit. The details of the proposal will not be available until the amendment is laid in Parliament.

It will not become law until April 2014 which means that there is no immediate change to the way in which care leavers are assessed for support post 18, and the current situation and the rights of young people leaving care or reaching 18 can be found on the FosterTalk Website at http://www.fostertalk.org/fostering-information/leaving-foster-care

 


 

New cross-government support strategy for care leavers launched 29th October 2013

From 29th October, young people leaving care will be able to see exactly what support is available to them as they take the first steps into adult life with the new care leaver strategy.

The new strategy includes a wide range of commitments from government to improve the help and support available to young people leaving care across all areas of life, including:

  • in employment, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has introduced a care leaver ‘marker’ so that employment support for these young people is better tracked and improved; and the Department for Education (DfE) will continue to fund the Care to Work programme, providing care leavers with work experience, apprenticeships and other vital training opportunities
  • in health, the Department of Health and DfE will improve guidance on promoting the health and well-being of looked-after children - making it clear how health organisations should work with local authorities to ensure care leavers receive the support they need
  • in housing, DfE will work with the National Care Advisory Service (NCAS) to improve the training of children’s home staff so they are better able to support young people as they leave their placement; and Department for Communities and Local Government will consult on new social housing guidance that will prioritise the most vulnerable, including care leavers
  • in financial support, DfE will continue to encourage all local authorities to pay at least £2,000 to young people leaving care which can be used to pay for essential things such as the deposit on a flat or train fares to a job interview; while DWP will ensure, as part of Universal Credit, that care leavers who need help managing their money are able to access personalised budgeting support
  • The government has introduced Junior Independent Savings Accounts for all care leavers, with over 35,000 accounts now open with a £200 contribution from government, and provided over £280,000 to the Care Leavers Foundation and NCAS to help improve support and outcomes for young people leaving residential care.

They have also improved accountability by publishing an annual data pack, outlining statistics on care leavers’ education and employment status, and from this autumn Ofsted’s local authority children’s service inspection framework will place extra emphasis on the outcome of care leavers.

The Department for Education would welcome feedback from care leavers on what issues and themes should be addressed over the coming year. Suggestions and comments should be sent to careleavers.feedback@education.gsi.gov.uk

For further information and to download documents go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-cross-government-support-strategy-for-care-leavers

 


 

Department for Education announces funding of £100 million to support the education of children in care (October 2013)

  • ‘Pupil Premium Plus’ will see funding to support children in care at school increase by £1,000 per pupil
  • Children will be covered as soon as they enter care
  • 10,000 more children in care will benefit, bringing the total to 50,000

Funding to support the education of children in care is to more than double from next April, Children’s Minister Edward Timpson has announced today.

Children in care have previously attracted Pupil Premium funding at the same rate as children from low income families, but in future they will attract a higher rate of funding – the ‘Pupil Premium Plus’. From April next year, children in care will attract £1,900 additional funding per pupil, more than double the £900 awarded in 2013-14.

In addition, this support will now reach more children. At the moment, children in care attract the Pupil Premium if they have been looked after for six months or more, but in future they will be funded from their first day in care. An extra 10,000 children will benefit, bringing the total to more than 50,000.

Total funding will increase from £40 million in 2013-14 to £100 million in 2014-15.

Edward Timpson, Minister for Children and Families, said:

“Children in care face unique challenges at school and often struggle to keep up with their peers at both primary and secondary level.

“It’s vital that these vulnerable children are given the targeted support they need and the education they deserve to help them get on in life.

“I’m delighted to announce that we’re more than doubling funding to support the education of children in care whilst at school and that from next year they will receive this extra support from the moment they enter care.”

Children in care do not perform as well at school as their peers, often not helped by their pre-care experiences. In 2012:

  • only 50% of children in care achieved the expected level in both English and maths at Key Stage 2, compared with 79 per cent of non-looked after children;
  • just 15% of children in care achieved five A*-C GCSEs or equivalent, including English and maths, compared with 58 per cent of non-looked after children.

Through the Children and Families Bill, the government is also making it mandatory for every council to have a ‘Virtual School Head’ – an individual who champions the education of children in care and acts as their overarching head.

This announcement includes plans to extend the role of the Virtual School Head to work with schools to manage the Pupil Premium Plus and ensure that the money is spent on securing the best educational support and services for children in care. For example, this could include specialist tuition for musically gifted children or one-to-one catch up sessions.

For the first time, children adopted from care and those who leave care under a Special Guardianship Order or Residence Order will also attract the Pupil Premium Plus.

The Pupil Premium is just one of a series of measures the government has introduced to help children in care achieve at school and get on in life:

  • the National College for Teaching and Leadership is improving its training programme for school governors to improve the attainment of looked after children and to work more closely with Virtual School Heads;
  • we are providing all looked after young people and care leavers aged 16-19 who stay in full-time education with a £1,200 bursary to help with the costs of their studies, and;
  • All two-year-olds in care are now eligible for 15 hours a week early education.

 


 

EXCITING NEWS!

FosterTalk recently launched Fosterline – a government funded fostering helpline service and new dedicated website to support foster carers and those who may be interesting in fostering!

Fosterline is funded by the Department for Education and delivered by FosterTalk, it provides:

  • a freephone helpline, giving immediate access to experienced and trained fostering advisors 9am to 5pm Mon-Fri
  • a new dedicated website, packed full of useful information and signposting
  • online forums that enable site visitors to post questions, comments and share experiences online
  • online enquiry forms for service users to submit their fostering queries

With a shortage of foster carers in England we need to attract as many people from as many backgrounds as possible to consider fostering.  Fosterline will not only support existing foster carers but we aim to reach out to a wide audience attracting people from as many backgrounds as possible to come forward to foster.  Fosterline will support and advise people who are interested in becoming carers regarding the process by encouraging them to use our interactive mapping tool to find their local fostering service simply searching by postcode.   Fosterline includes all fostering services listed by Ofsted; please take a look at www.fosterline.info.

As a key stakeholder in Fosterline we invite you to add a link from your website to www.fosterline.info  in order to attract a wide audience to this vital government initiative.  



FosterTalk Limited, Registered Company in England and Wales
10 The Courtyard, Buntsford Gate, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, B60 3DJ
Registered Company Number: 06318354