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”
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.
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.”
Cllr 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
Nathan and Kayleigh are both 25 years old, and have two children aged 4 and 6 years old. Nathan works full time, Kayleigh is a stay at home mum. The family have been approved in February 2018, and reflect upon their first year of fostering
“Fostering runs through our family and is just a way of life for us, my Grandma has been fostering since I was very young and It was always clear to me that I wanted to carry it on.
I met Nathan 8 years ago and we decided very early on this is the path we wanted to take. I already knew quite a lot about fostering and had no doubts it was what I wanted to do, Nathan was a little more apprehensive and believed looked after children tend to come with a stereotype of difficult, unruly unmanageable behaviours. However soon after becoming part of our family he experienced what it was really like with meeting my Grandma’s children and was soon desperate to start the process and begin welcoming children into our home.
The process was lengthy and sometimes intense but extremely rewarding and eye-opening. Lots of training courses are on offer and we were required to attend a Skills to Foster course which was an absolutely fantastic 3-day course which we really enjoyed. I thought I knew everything but we learnt so much about the role and the importance of becoming positive, loving, understanding role models to all the young people needing safe, secure homes. In the 12 months since we have been approved we have attended numerous training days covering a huge range of difficulties we face with our children and the skills we have learnt give us the confidence to provide the best possible care, they are also great for meeting with other foster carers and sharing/offloading our experiences.
We have had a few difficult placements and some that did not work in our home, we have a fantastic Supervising Social Worker who we go to if we need any advice/support. In difficult times she has been quick to help and deal with the problems we were facing, and in some cases the placement has had to come to an end. We found It very difficult to admit to ourselves that this particular placement was not working and did not want to give up. However, the children were not able to reach their full potential in our family environment and It would be in their best interest to give them somewhere more suitable. We have learnt there is no such thing as thinking you’re not good enough to be a foster carer but actually just finding the right match for the children is important and also very important not being afraid to speak up when we’re finding it hard as we have great support and somebody has always been available to offer advice.
12 months have passed now and we have welcomed 9 children into our home, every single one has been from very different circumstances and it can be quite shocking and upsetting to hear what they have been through when we get the call. We have loved and treated them all like our own and are always sad to see them leave, however treasuring our time with them and sitting down reflecting on their time with us is the most rewarding feeling in the world! Giving them experiences they may never have had a chance to do before and just being able to give them, friendship, love confidence, guidance and most importantly, self-worth! Some of the children have had a tough start and do not know how to accept love and affection and can respond in the complete opposite way you would hope, giving you a feeling that you are not good enough to do this. Once they form that bond with you they will begin to trust you and confide in you it gives us that boost in thinking “yes this is why we wanted to do this!”
We have no regrets, we have a strong supportive network of family, friends and the support from other professionals we work with, our birth children are happy and love meeting all the young children we share our lives with. They have a great understanding of the feeling and emotions our looked after children face and we feel this also gives them great skills they will continue to use later on in their own lives. We have kept in touch with our looked after children and remain in contact with majority of them as they continue their journey, our children have built great friendships with them and we love to hear them asking about them. We hope to continue fostering throughout our lifetime. My grandparents are 65 years old and still welcoming children into our family.
Local residents Karen and Dan have been Foster Carers for Powys County Council for the past 19 years and share some of the highlights and what has inspired them to take up this important role in the community.