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Fostering moments and making new family memories

This month in honour of foster care fortnight #FCF2024, the CEO Blog is a takeover by our Head of Fostering at St Christopher’s Pauline Griffiths. Read on to find out more about what our in region teams are doing to support our young people and their carers and our future ambitions to help even more children in need.

As the new Head of Fostering, (previously a Registered manager for the charity), I have been asked to write a blog about our fostering service at St Christopher… what a lovely task, as we have a fantastic fostering team, who are doing sterling work in creating brighter futures for our children who are living in safe and secure family homes.

In the last year, the fostering service has experienced significant change and evolution, our teams are bolstered with new staff, and we are embarking on a fostering growth strategy to not only recruit, but to retain our foster carers.

Our West Midlands team has seen the most change. Under the leadership of Barbara Webber as the Registered Fostering Manager, we have been successful in recruiting a number of new dedicated team members. This has brought renewed energy and vibrancy to the region, and the team are forming together well and are excited about the future.

The Eastern Region, for us covers Essex, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Southend and Bedfordshire. Mairead Carroll is our new Registered Fostering Manager and Katya is now a senior social worker. Loice having returned from maternity leave joins Jenny – as our recruitment leads – roles central to our current growth ambitions. We believe in investing in our people and nurturing and supporting talent from within St Christopher’s, maintaining consistency for our carers and the young people we support wherever possible.

As we know, there is a national shortage of foster carers and all Independent fostering agencies, and Local Authorities are struggling to recruit new families. Fostering is not a job that everyone can do, there are stringent checks, the process from when someone makes an enquiry to a carer being approved can take up to 8 months, and then the hard work begins, when you start to take young people into your home. But as we have helped to showcase this foster care fortnight, we have a number of outstanding carers who make such a difference and are encouraged and happy to continue to help make more new family memories, as what they do truly brings them joy as they see those in their care thrive. We want to enable more families to join us on this incredible journey.

For our agency recent, key developments include our parent and child service, where a new parent who is experiencing difficulties, and their child are placed together in foster family care. The parent will receive help and support from the foster carer for a specific time until they can safely care for their own child on their own. We now have a number of foster carers in both regions who are approved for parent and child families. This is great news, as the demand for such support is high, and we aim to be one of the “go to” agencies for this offering.

Most of our young people are in long term secure families. Our children very rarely go missing and for us when they leave a home it is planned; where they go on to forever families, reach 18 and stay put in their foster family or are rehabilitated back home.

We have a committed and dedicated team of foster carers. It is so pleasing, when I visit or meet with carers in their support groups or at events to hear our families speak so enthusiastically and positively about the children in their care. Kindness is so simple, and I see kindness demonstrated repeatedly with our carers, who go above and beyond to be advocates for their children.

I mentioned change in the team already and in memory of Annette Richards our former Head of Fostering who we all sadly lost in 2023, we have created the Annette Richards award, which will be given to those carers in recognition of outstanding work. We have adopted the categories of resilience, advocacy, creativity, and guidance; all qualities that we associate with Annette in creating a lasting legacy.

This year’s theme for foster care fortnight #FCF2024 is “Fostering Moments” – to celebrate those moments that have had a significant impact on an individual’s personal fostering journey. We have been proud to share just some of these moments on social media with you over the last two week. For me, there are always “moments” that we capture in fostering every day. There are moments that can make me smile, when a child tells me they are happy in their home, or moments that make me feel pleased when a foster carer reports that a child sat down and ate their dinner.  It is those little steps or tasks that our children achieve all the time that create those special moments in the work we do.



If you or someone you know would like to take the first step and find out more about fostering with our charity St Christopher’s, please contact Pauline and the team  here