Well, we certainly ‘hit the ground running’ at the start of 2018. Just one week into the new year we received a call from Ofsted giving us 48 hours-notice of the Inspection of our North East region. This is the very first time any of our regions have been inspected under the new inspection framework which means instead of the usual 14 days-notice period usually received in the past, we are now given only 48 hours to prepare. However, in preparation for just this sort of scenario, Julia and her team in the North East region had been busy getting ‘Ofsted Ready’ for many months last year. As a result, the inspection went very well and the region was awarded an overall ‘Good’, a great achievement by all in the North East, well done!
As always at the start of a new year I spend some time reflecting on the past year, our achievements, where we could have performed better and where we want to be moving forward. As such I set out our Aims and Objectives for the new year, sharing these with staff and Carers as the year gets started. Our focus this year is about Communication, Finance and achieving Targets (CFT). I’ve chosen these 3 headings based on our previous year’s performance as well as feedback from our staff, Carers and young people.
Our first objective came from requests for clearer and more frequent Communication highlighted during forums with both our staff and Carers last year, alongside feedback from our annual surveys. As a result we are currently looking at how we can improve the way in which we share our information with our stakeholders. Our second objective focuses on Finance, a topic that remains at the top of the list for all business’ regardless of a profit or not for profit status. Given the increasingly competitive market that we currently operate in, we are continually faced with that difficult balancing act of continuing to provide high quality care and support versus ensuring ‘value for money’. Our last objective is aimed at helping regions understand what we base our budgets on each year. Our Targets are based on how many new Carers we recruit each year as well as the number of children placed with us. Recruiting new Carers or making new placements is never an ‘exact science’ but based on how we performed in the previous year we attempt to predicate what the coming year may bring. These last two objectives tie in well with that of Communication, whether that be with our local authority placement teams, our Carers, children or staff, Communication remains key to all we do.
As you will read within this edition we have now launched our new, innovative Children’s Guides. A fabulous job which involved several members of our staff working closely with a number of our current foster children. The Guides are designed to enable our children and young people to Communicate with us more effectively as well as helping them to have an understanding of who is who and the roles we play in supporting them.
Over the past few months we have recruited a number of Carers who have transferred from other agencies. In general there appears to be considerable ‘movement’ taking place currently across the sector and It’s good to learn from them that they chose The CFT based on the support we provide alongside the quality of service for our children. This feedback confirms that our provision of 24/7 on call support is of enormous reassurance to both new and experienced Carers, whilst our persistent efforts in ensuring our children receive the services they require, when they require them is clearly at the top of the agenda when families decide which agency to foster for.
The National Fostering Stocktake, commissioned by the government to look at the ‘state of foster care in England’ was conducted last year and is now available to read in full online. The research considered how the prospects of children in care might be improved through changes to fostering as well as what is working well and why and where improvements are needed to achieve better outcomes in the future. The report makes for an interesting reading and provides an opportunity for those of us involved with the care of looked after children to reflect, make changes where change is needed and to continue to be the very best we can be when the care of vulnerable children is our ‘business’.
My thanks to all of you who work so hard on behalf of The CFT and the children.
–Marina Mulholland – CEO