So how was 2021?

Covid challenges aside, 2021 has been a positive year, with two awards for our agency and the publishing of two new books last Spring, by Lisa Cherry and Dr Karen Treisman, that we contributed to. We have loved working with all of our foster carers and supporting some great young people, who despite their initial start in life have shown amazing levels of resilience. Equally we have some terrific sons and daughters of our foster carers who have supported children and young people in their families, we are so proud of them all.

It’s been a year of reflection too. The pandemic has impacted on our whole society and foster care has been no exception. Nationally, according to the Fostering Network, 44 per cent of foster carers reported a deterioration in the mental health and wellbeing of at least one child in their care, as a result of the pandemic. We predicted that additional support would be needed for our foster carers to support the children during this time. Our communities of supportive foster carers proved so much more than a listening ear, providing respite and sessional work, when nationwide resources were stretched or unavailable, enabling our foster carers to maintain the highest standard of care and giving our children and young people the security, they needed during the times of uncertainty.

There have been too many sad stories of children’s abuse and neglect and in the new year, all child protection agencies will be looking at how we can learn more from the findings of the serious case reviews. We are aware that more families, already living in crisis, have been put under further pressure because of the pandemic and children as a result are experiencing challenges and facing removal from their families. Children come in to care through no fault of their own. With the loving support of foster families, we have seen them regain trust in grown-ups and in some cases be able to return to their own family. It is humbling to work with such incredible young people and inspiring to work with our remarkable foster care team.

We have continued to build on our learning and development package available to our foster carers. This year we have worked with some more wonderful new people, including the charity, CYP First, who have delivered for us, several sessions on the subjects of exploitation and the supporting and protection of children to prevent them going missing. We have partnered with more care experienced young people and a clinical psychologist to provide specialised bite sized development that has fit well around the busy lifestyles of our foster carers. We are looking forward to developing the new learning and development plans with our carers for 2022-23.

For the first time, nationally there has been a reduction in the number of people fostering. Yet simultaneously, we are seeing an increase in the number of children and young people requiring foster families. We have partnered with lots of new local authorities this year and have been overwhelmed by referrals of young people, requiring foster families. Sadly, we have been unable to help as many young people as we would have liked. Thankfully we have continued to welcome people new to fostering as well as experienced foster carers who are looking to join a forward-thinking agency that respects and values the work they do. We want to maintain our appeal as a small friendly agency and will continue to build great relationships with everyone we work with.

In a national survey of foster carers, it was wonderful to see that 54% recommended others to foster. Comments included “You can make such a difference to a child’s life by giving them a safe secure setting with simple and consistent boundaries. Seeing them develop and experience the new things they have never had the opportunity to do, is worth the challenges.”

We appreciate that fostering children is a rewarding role which is sometimes challenging. We operate within a complex regulatory environment which supports the robust way we need to work to support the most vulnerable children in our society. We have continued to work closely with our foster carers, advocating for them as well as the children in their care. It is imperative that the care system is robust and meets children’s current as well as emerging needs in the future. We have worked to understand what matters most to our foster carers and what motivates them to continue to foster, especially after what has been a very challenging time during the pandemic. We are all united in our

determination to be the best we can be and offer the best available loving care to the children and young people we are here for. Our team’s purpose remains to help foster carers to be successful and we are already set to make 2022 the year that we enable more families than ever to help change a child’s future, because there are so many children and young people that need us.

Wishing you and your family a healthy and safe 2022.

 

Related article

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day

Most children in foster care will have likely experienced a feeling of loss or a sense of abandonment during their young lives. Their mothers may have died, or have serious illnesses rendering them unable to take care of the young person anymore. In other cases, their...

New year new you

New year new you

Ikigai and what it means Just as humans have lusted after objects and money since the dawn of time, other humans have felt dissatisfaction at the relentless pursuit of money and fame and have instead focused on something bigger than their own material wealth.Hector...

Thanks to our heroes

Thanks to our heroes

What have been the biggest challenges this year? Angela: As a relatively new organisation, started only 3 years ago, we had a very clear plan to build collaborations that would enable young people in our care to exceed expectations. Alison and I were very clear of...