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Sharing our Stories – CEO Update

For many years we have produced a Newsletter in which we detail the happenings of all at The CFT.  Following our website update, we have decided that it is also time to bring aspects of our Famous Newsletter, ‘The CFT Times’, into the digital world and from now on we will be sharing our stories with you via the News section of our site.

Quarterly our CEO, Marina Mulholland, writes an update to let people know of any changes and developments within our Charity. From now on, you will be able to read all of Marina’s updates so you can keep up to date with everything new at The Children’s Family Trust.

 

Marina’s Letter

It’s hard to believe that it’s over 3 months since I wrote my last piece for the CFT Times. Time really does fly when you are busy and in the past 3 months we have certainly been busy here at The CFT. As I explained in the February edition our Aims and Objectives for this year are centred around Recruitment, Retention and Raising our profile.

All regions have got off to an excellent start and as a result we now have over 20 new families in the assessment process, some just about to come to Panel. I’m very proud to say that a number of these applicants have come to us through word of mouth, often in my view the best way to recruit. It always says such a lot about us as an agency both from our Carers’ perspective and our staff. And as acknowledgement of this on going commitment we have recently increased the financial reward for such recommendations from 2016 onwards.

Retention of the Carers we already have is also crucial as we continue to grow. As many of our Carers know it is my view that fostering at it’s very best is a ‘vocation’. The commitment, care and sacrifices I have seen many CFT Carers make in order to make a difference in a child’s life is both humbling and inspiring. It will be 10 years in August since I joined The CFT and I’m extremely proud to say that many of the Carers I first recruited remain with us and continue to do an outstanding job often despite some real challenges for both them and their own children.

Raising our profile continues to be a challenge. However with the help of Net Natives and Social Media we are certainly seeing an increase in interest in The CFT and what we do. We know this as we can monitor how many people visit our website and show an interest in our Facebook page and recently in a two week period over 500 people had visited our website as well as looking at our Facebook page. However we do know that we cannot solely rely on Social Media to raise our profile, as such all four regions have an ‘Events’ Calendar for the year which means they are busy attending summer fairs, recruitment events and providing ‘drop in’ days for individuals who might simply want a face to face chat about what fostering is all about. Our ongoing radio adverts in both the South Central and West Yorkshire region have also resulted in considerable interest and subsequent initial visits.

So, as you can see we continue to ‘chip’ away at our aims and objectives for this year. That said we must also continue to remain open minded in the current climate. It’s always so refreshing to hear the views of our students and younger members of staff no matter how ‘different’ they might be. That old but very true saying that goes ‘If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always got’ often comes to mind when I listen to their views. This leads me nicely into my next topic, that of ‘Matching’.

As some of you will know we have held a number of ‘Matching’ workshops across CFT since the beginning of the year. Most of these have been delivered by our SSW in the North East Sacha Samms who has done a sterling job for us. I sometimes wonder about the ‘science’ of ‘Matching’. Given that we are dealing with human beings and not inordinate objects ‘Matching’ in my view can never be an exact science.

Having placed dozens of children over the years I have no doubt that chemistry and personality play a big part in the successful ‘Match’ of children in both fostering and adoptive families. As a Registered Manager in the WM region for CFT I recall a situation where we received a referral for a child who I thought two of my new Carers might be interested in. I left a message over the phone for the Local Authority Placement Officer who had sent the referral through requesting much more detail as very little information was on the original referral except age, gender and the reason for the placement request. Unfortunately I didn’t realize at that stage that the person I’d left the message for understood very little English! The following day I received a message informing me that the child in question was on his way to my Carers with 2 Social Workers and all of his worldly goods in a van following! My Carers, who had never fostered before were totally unaware of any of this! However, as only CFT Carers do they dropped everything and had 20 minutes to get ready to welcome this 10 year old boy who had been in the same placement since he was less than 2 years old. By the time I arrived later that day the female Carer had cooked for everyone and had a meal waiting for me! The child in question is 19 years old now and remains with his Carers who consider him to be one of their family! No matching took place whatsoever in this instance, but the chemistry was perfect!

I sometimes think that by being too specific with regard to the ‘Matching’ criteria Carers can often miss out on some fabulous opportunities in caring for some wonderful little human beings. Of course issues such as Carers’ own children and space must be prioritized but ALL children and young people are UNIQUE, as are Foster Carers, no two will ever be the same even if they are the same age, gender and come from similar backgrounds with similar problems and challenges. At a ‘Matching’ workshop I did some years ago for CFT I anonymized several referrals and handed them out to my group of Carers. Most stated that they could never care for any of the children on the referrals explaining that the child’s background, behaviours etc. was way beyond their capabilities and NOT what they were approved for. What they didn’t realize was that for the most they were already caring for the exact same children! A useful exercise and a real eye opener for most Carers at the time. So hopefully making a conscious decision to ‘not do what you’ve always done will mean you won’t get what you’ve always got, instead perhaps a different child, a unique child who will without doubt enrich your life and you theirs!

Take care all and as always many, many thanks for all you do for CFT, we wouldn’t be CFT without you! Have a great summer,

Warmest wishes,     

Marina Mulholland

Chief Executive