Coronavirus and Me – Nation-wide survey for children and young people in Wales

You’ve been staying home to stay safe over the last few weeks. People who can help to make a difference to your life want to listen to how you have felt about having to do this because of the Coronavirus and any effect it has had on you.

This survey has been written by these organisations with help from children and young people:

  • Welsh Government
  • Children’s Commissioner for Wales
  • Children in Wales
  • Youth Parliament for Wales / Senedd Ieuenctid Cymru

The survey closes on 27th May so please complete it as soon as you can.

 

Five simple steps to Foster

intra fostercare

1. Talk to us
Pick up the phone and speak to a member of our friendly fostering team on 01437 774650. Find out how we can help you start your fostering journey. We will be happy to answer any questions and outline the fostering process.

2. Meet with us
If you decide to take the next step, we will visit you at home to find out more about you and members of your household. This is an opportunity for you all to ask any questions and for us to see your home and the space you have available. Together we will discuss which type of fostering is right for you and whether it is the right time to get started.

3. Your application
After meeting with us we will invite you to fill out an application. You will need to supply a number of references and undertake several checks, including employment references, background checks and medical reports.

4. Your training & assessment
To help you prepare to become a foster carer you will attend a fostering preparation course to hear about the skills required for fostering and meet some of our foster carers. During the assessment you will talk about your life, early years, current family situation and experiences that could affect the way you would care for a child. During this time you will consider the age of children and type of fostering placements you would like to offer. These visits and discussions will be the basis of a fostering assessment report about you and your family. Your fostering social worker will guide you through this part of the process and share the report with you.

5. Your approval
You will be invited to attend a fostering panel with your fostering social worker where your report will be presented. The panel is a group of people who have experience and knowledge about fostering. They will discuss your report and you may be asked questions. The panel will recommend whether you are ready to be approved. Following approval you will receive ongoing training and support from your supervising social worker and will become part of our growing fostering community.

Launch of the Post Approval Learning and Development Framework

One of the National Fostering Framework’s (NFF) work-streams has been the development of the Learning and Development Framework for Foster Carers.  The Fostering Network and AFA Cymru led on the development of a Learning and Development Framework.  There was extensive consultation with foster carers and staff across Wales which made a significant contribution to the development of this work.  The purpose of the Learning and development framework is to offer a consistently high standard of post approval training to all local authority foster carers across Wales.

Currently there are variations in local practices in learning and development between local authorities; in Mid and West Wales we are proud to have been offering a high standard for many years.

The national fostering framework vision Learning and Development statement says “Fostering Families in Wales are offered great learning opportunities that meet their professional and personal needs, reflects their growing experience and supports them to provide high quality care for children and young people”

  • Principle 1 – The NFF post approval learning and development framework forms part of the professional development pathway for foster carers in Wales, who are recognised as part of the social care work-force in Wales”
  • Principle 2 – “Post approval learning and development provides foster carers and their families with opportunities to benefit from shared learning experiences, alongside professionals as part of the team around the child”
  • Principle 3 – “Post approval training has consistent quality and content. Foster Carers own the responsibility for their motivation to develop and achieve personal learning goals”
L & D Powys Launch 30/01/2020
Powys Launch of the Post Approval Learning and Development Framework for Foster Carers, 30th January 2020.

 

aunch of the Post Approval Learning and Development Framework
Pembrokeshire Family Placement Team recently launched the Post Approval Learning and Development Framework for Foster Carers at their Christmas Craft Coffee Morning held on Wednesday 20th November. This initiative is one of the National Fostering Frame work’s (NFF) work streams which aims to provide a basis for a national approach to delivering learning and development for foster carers across Wales.

 

On Thursday 14th November, as part of Skills to Foster (4 day initial training course delivered by the Fostering Team for “would be foster carers”), the Ceredigion Fostering Team launched the Post Approval Learning and Development Framework for Foster Carers.

Working together to improve the future of children in foster care

IMPROVING the future of children and young people in foster care is at the heart of a new regional partnership.

Fostering services from the four local authorities of Carmarthenshire, Powys, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire have come together to form Foster Mid and West Wales.

The aim is to work together with local children to create a strong partnership and ultimately to improve the outcomes for young people in foster care. The key message is Local Carers, Local Children, Local Services.

A new regional fostering website has been launched together with a Foster Carers’ Charter which sets out a vision for future service delivery.

Mid and West Wales Foster workshop

Launched at the National Botanic Gardens at Llanarthne it was a celebration of the amazing work and dedication of the local authority staff, foster carers and their families across all four regions.

The event included a demonstration of the new website to help with the recruitment of foster carers throughout the region; and foster carers had the opportunity to share their personal foster care journeys.

Carmarthenshire’s Executive Board Member for Education and Children’s Services Cllr Glynog Davies said: “A regional approach brings together the joint experience and success of our individual fostering services to allow us to learn from each other and enhance recruitment and training opportunities for fostering across the region.

“Foster Mid and West Wales is passionate and committed to providing stable and nurturing homes to children and young people; providing specialist training and round-the-clock support to the exceptional team of foster carers and their families.

“It takes compassion, a sense of humour, flexibility and an open mind to foster and Foster Mid and West Wales is very lucky to have so many wonderful foster carers to help our children and young people become independent, confident and happy individuals, with great life choices ahead of them.”

Regional Foster launch with cakeCllr Rachel Powell, Cabinet Member for Powys County Council Children’s Services, said: “It was a great pleasure to be present at this event, with so many humbling accounts from the four regions, which emphasised the value of our foster carers and the unique, professional role that they provide for our young people who we need to care for.

“There are so many valid reasons to be a foster carer and as part of the Mid and West Wales Fostering launch, there is a firm welcome to further discussions from anyone wishing to find out more. The assumption that to be a foster carer you need to be part of a two parent family is simply not true. Fostering involves unique individuals who are passionate and genuinely want to support children and young people in their lifelong journey, which can be hugely satisfying.”

Cllr Catherine Hughes, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Children’s Services for Ceredigion, said: “Ceredigion County Council is proud to be part of the regional partnership, we’re committed in making sure that young people in foster care and foster carers are fully supported.

“The new website will be a great resource for existing foster carers and also anyone who may be considering giving fostering a go – it’s worthwhile to take a look.”

Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Social Services Cllr Tessa Hodgson said: “Foster carers provide a vital service to children and young people across the region, a loving stable foster placement can turn a life around #changeafuture. 

“This new strong partnership and regional working will help to provide those critical placements and support for foster families.”

To find out more about becoming a foster carer in your local area visit the website for further information, as well as case studies and news visit foster.midandwest.wales

Foster Care Fortnight 2019: 13th to 26th May

#changeafutureIt’s an annual campaign to raise the profile of fostering and to show how foster care transforms lives.  To launch the start of Fostering Fortnight the Foster Mid and West Wales team were at Dinefwr Park, Llandeilo from 11-3pm on Saturday 11thMay. #changeafuture

Remember that you can meet some of our fostering team at the HWB’s in Carmarthenshire during fostering fortnight, between 9am and 1pm. The HWB in Ammanford is at 41 Quay Street, Llanelli HWB is at 36 Stepney Street and Carmarthen HWB is located in the council offices in Spillman Street. Cal the fostering bear has also been putting in an appearance so come down and have an informal chat with our team members, we are looking forward to seeing you.

Fostering Fortnight TimetablePDF icon


The Foster Mid and West Wales team were at Dinefwr Park, Llandeilo from 11-3pm on Saturday 11th May:

Men who foster

Father with girls paintingThe role of a foster carer can be both extremely rewarding and at the same time emotionally strenuous, requiring resilience and an ability to build on training and experience while working as part of a team.

For many children in care living with a male foster carer may be their first positive experience of a male adult.

Pembrokeshire Fostering Team recently held a successful training event for Men who Foster where participants shared over 67 years of fostering experience. Those attending really valued the opportunity to share common themes and discuss topics from a male perspective. With further sessions planned it is hoped these links will serve as a platform to build on existing levels of support, by creating opportunities for mentoring and shared activities.

If you are interested in finding out more about fostering call the fostering team on 01437 774650 to find out more. Remember fostering changes lives – you could make a difference.

Ella and Rhys

Baby holding handsWell it’s been 11 years since we started fostering, I can’t believe it. I always wanted to foster but it took a few years to persuade Rhys. All our children were grown up and I suppose it was a bit like empty nest syndrome. We chose fostering because we wanted to make a difference in a child’s life.

We are approved for short term placements of older children, although our main role has developed into providing Mother and Baby placements which we really enjoy. This role fits in well with our family since the placements are planned and are for a set period of time. I just love supporting the “Mums” and this way round I don’t get too attached.

Mostly I support the mum with life skills, helping them to make good decisions and being available for that guidance and reassurance. Building their trust is the key to helping them to relax in our home and putting them at ease so they can come to us with any concerns.

Our family are great, my children are a massive support. My grandchildren are used to people coming and going and we always encourage the young mothers to join in any family activities.
My house is always busy with social workers and other professionals calling, so the kettle is always on!

All my mothers have their own stories to tell and make such an impression on us. They always leave a bit of themselves behind. I am so pleased if they get to take their babies home.
I have gained so much experience from doing this role. I have always been keen to access training and will take away any bit of advice and put it into practice.

Fostering Mother and Baby placements has had a massive impact on our daily lives, you have to be able to think on your feet and sometimes the role can feel a bit restrictive through the level of supervision and support these young mothers need.

Giving them the space and time to parent their child means everything. They have given us so much back in return through the life lessons they have taught us. Drawing out and re-discovering the young person at a level they are comfortable with has been such a learning curve and trying not to “kill them with kindness” is really difficult for me, since they need to stand on their own two feet.

We both love what we do and would advise anyone thinking of doing this to keep an open mind. Perhaps start slowly and dip your toe in the water, maybe through respite or short breaks, to find out if it’s for you. Since you won’t know if you like it until you try it! So give yourself the chance to decide.

Cafe Rio Fostering Evening

Pembrokeshire Fostering Service are holding an information evening on March 13th at Cafe Rio, Quay Street, Haverfordwest from 5 – 7.30pm. If you know someone who might be interested bring them along. It’s an informal event and an opportunity for interested people to meet foster carers and staff and chat over a tea/coffee.

‘It’s definitely changed our lives for the better’

“Foster children are not different from your own children. They maybe just haven’t had the start in life that other children have. But it is our job to give them that life that every child deserves,” says Natalie, a foster parent for the past 13 years.

Natalie and her husband Colin fostered their first child when they were in their mid-twenties. Since then, they have fostered another twenty children, between the ages of 0 and 18. Most have been long-term placements, with the longest being eight years. The couple also have a daughter and two sons of their own, aged fifteen, nine and eight.

The couple, who live in Rosemarket, say that starting fostering at a young age, and bringing up their own children with their foster children, has been a definite plus for them.

“It’s easy. You find the time to look after your own children. It’s exactly the same,” said Natalie. “We treat all our children equally, and the rules are the same for everyone. It’s really important, so that nobody feels any different.”

“All of our friends and family know all our children and treat them all the same,” added Colin, a trained paramedic. “Lots of them come back at Christmas and you can’t move for presents! It’s like one big happy family.”

Many of the children which the couple have welcomed into their home have been teenagers, and Natalie says they are actually much easier to foster than some people think.

“In the beginning, they can be hard and will push their boundaries, but if you connect with them, they are away and independent. It’s all about respecting one another,” she said.

“Trust is a big thing. You have got to build up trust; that you are not going to treat them differently or harm them. Nine times out of ten they are just normal children who need to be shown attention, want to be loved, and need some boundaries.”

The couple foster through Pembrokeshire County Council. ‘We have had fantastic support from the Council,” said Colin. “Any time we have asked for help or needed something, we have had it. The relationship and support we have got is brilliant. It helps knowing that you have got the backing from the team.”

Both are passionate about the huge benefits which fostering can bring to any household, and they urge anyone who thinks that fostering might be for them to give it a go.

“As long as you have got empathy and care about others, and have understanding of how people want to be treated, and respected, it’s well worth it,” said Natalie.

“All the good times outweigh by far the rocky patches in the beginning. If anybody thinks it might be for them, they should give it a try at least. It’s definitely changed our lives for the better.” Said Colin; “You can give a child that environment to flourish and turn their whole life around. Some of the children we have fostered have felt they are worthless. So to see a child grow in confidence, totally change, and do well at school or go on the straight and narrow is fantastic.

“We’ve helped to turn them around, make something of their lives, to get an education, to get a job. “I’ve loved every minute of it.”