FosterTalk, is celebrating its first year of success following being awarded the contract to deliver a vital government funded service, Fosterline England. Fosterline is funded by the Department for Education and delivered by FosterTalk to provide a confidential free-of-charge service offering impartial advice and guidance on a broad range of issues affecting foster carers.
On the day of the anniversary, FosterTalk hosted a celebratory tea party to mark FosterTalk’s first year of delivering Fosterline. Among the attendees were: Councillor Sherrey, along with representatives from BAAF (British Association of Adoption and Fostering), BASW (British Association of Social Workers) and colleagues from councils and fostering agencies to help FosterTalk celebrate.
As well as celebrating FosterTalk’s first anniversary of delivering Fosterline, FosterTalk also announced the upcoming launch of the Fosterline Foundation. The Fosterline Foundation aims to raise money in order to keep the crucial Fosterline service going well into the future and to further enhance and develop support services to foster carers and help improve outcomes for looked after children and young people in England.
Fosterline supports foster carers and provides essential information and guidance to anyone interested in becoming involved in fostering. The Fosterline service includes a dedicated website (www.fosterline.info) and freephone national helpline (0800 040 7674), giving immediate access to experienced and trained advisors Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm. The website also offers online forums enabling visitors to share experiences and post questions or comments.
FosterTalk Ltd’s managing director Melody Douglas commented; “I am very pleased that our first year of delivering Fosterline has been such a success; during the last 12 months we have provided personal advice via telephone, email, web form and social media forums to over 12,600 individuals. I am immensely proud of the staff team at FosterTalk who have worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the Fosterline service across England which has enabled more people to contact the service and obtain the support, information and advice that they have needed. People who are already fostering have sought vital support and information on a range of matters including finances, allegations and other fostering matters and people who are interested in fostering regularly contact the services for advice and information on how to go about becoming a foster carer.”
Could you hold a Tea Party to Fundraise for the Fosterline Foundation?
FosterTalk is encouraging foster carers to hold their own fundraising tea party to raise money for the Fosterline Foundation. Melody added: “If people could donate the proceeds of their own tea party or a get together with friends for a coffee to the Fosterline Foundation it will help towards sustaining this valuable service to foster carers. If you would like to give a donation to the Foundation go to http://www.fosterline.info/fosterline-foundation/.”
FosterTalk’s Professional Advisor Jackie Edwards has received a very special invitation – to Buckingham Palace no less!
The Department for Education has invited Jackie to the Royal Garden Party today (3rd June 2014) to thank her for her long standing services to children, young people and families.
Jackie is a senior manager with over 25 years’ experience in the field of social care/social work with children in care in the voluntary, statutory and independent sectors.
Jackie played a significant role in the growth and development of two major Independent Fostering Agencies as well as setting up a new trade association for fostering providers – the NAFP. Another achievement of Jackie’s was establishing the Children's Advice and Representation Service for the NSPCC in partnership with Staffordshire County Council.
FosterTalk’s Managing Director Melody Douglas said, "We are extremely proud of Jackie, who has been involved with FosterTalk for over six years. Jackie has worked tirelessly with FosterTalk as Professional Advisor responsible for line managing the Foster Carers Independent Support Service. She was instrumental in FosterTalk’s development and delivery of Fosterline – England’s government funded support helpline and website for foster carers and those interested in becoming involved in fostering."
Congratulations Jackie, we hope you have a wonderful day!
A family and friends carer is a grandparent, aunt, uncle, sister or family friend who is looking after a child who cannot be cared for by their birth parents.
On 13th May 2014 the Department of Education published a leaflet aimed at frontline staff to use with family and friends carers. The Government had introduced statutory guidance for local authorities in relation to family and friends care in April 2011.
The Children Act 1989 sets out clear principles that where a child cannot live with their birth parents they should be cared for by their families and friends where it is consistent with their welfare.
The advice leaflet describes the support that may be available to family and friends carers. It is intended to help those family members or friends access services in their local area and national helplines.
Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson said:
"Growing up in a loving, nurturing and stimulating environment helps children develop into happy and healthy adults. Where the immediate family is unable to provide that support, family and friends carers can make a huge contribution and give children the best possible chance to fulfil their potential.’ ‘This leaflet is intended to help frontline staff help family and friends carers, making it easier for them to find support at an often difficult time in their lives."
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.
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:
Edward Timpson, Children’s Minister, congratulates FosterTalk on being awarded the contract to deliver Fosterline England from 25 June 2013...
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
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information and to download documents go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-cross-government-support-strategy-for-care-leavers
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:
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:
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:
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