I would like to start by wishing everyone a Happy New Year, even though we are now in February!
At this time, each year David and his team are working hard preparing for our annual audit, often explained as ‘David’s very own Ofsted Inspection’! I have no doubt that this year, as with previous years our auditors will be focusing on the pressure on the fees we receive versus the severe restrictions placed on local authorities funding, this has certainly shown itself again in the contracts we have recently retendered for. The maximum fees local authorities are prepared to pay us continue to drop to point that was hard to imagine several years ago, fortunately, we continue to grow allowing our trustees to work toward improving the terms and conditions for our Foster Carers each year. Not always something we see happening in the bigger, more commercial for profit sector.
As with any growing organization there is always comings and goings within staff teams as you will see later in this edition. For those who have left or are about to leave I would like to thank them for their contribution to The Trust and the children we care for and wish them well. I would also like to welcome the new additions to our staff team and sincerely hope they settle in and enjoy working for The Trust. Our new students are particularly welcome. It is always a joy to listen to their fresh and unfettered views and ideas and soak up their passion for wanting to make a difference.
Looking forward, we are gearing up for a very busy year ahead. Having finally completed the refurbishment of our lovely new office in Hampshire our next office move will be in West Yorkshire. We currently occupy an office on the Nostell Priory Estate. A stunning location in Wakefield. However, after 3 years we have outgrown the space and require more room for both staff and our Carers. The move will take place in May and we are currently looking for premises in the Wakefield area.
As I reported last year we have been going through a ‘rebranding’ exercise. The results are all in and we are about to launch our new logo and strap line along with various paraphernalia, all designed to give us an image that says we are a fostering charity, we work with children, we value our Foster Carers, we have a history and we are diverse. I’m delighted with the outcome and I hope you will all like it too. As we have now changed our logo our website will also require some updates too which we are currently working on. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Michelle and her team at Gough Bailey Wright for their help with the rebrand, much appreciated. It’s always exciting when we find a company to work with who are as passionate about ‘getting it right’ as we are!
Our Aims and Objectives for this year remain the same as last year. The three ‘R’s, namely Recruitment, Retention and Raising our profile. We made a good start on this last year but there is still much work to be done. A big part of this is promoting ourselves through our website, our Facebook page and attending promotional events as well as advertising in specific ways using a planned approach. We have certainly seen an enormous increase in people visiting our website and contributing to our FB page. However, the recruitment of good quality Foster Carers who wish to foster as a vocation will always remain our greatest challenge. Operating in a market saturated with over 300 Fostering agencies alongside hundreds of local authorities means the choices for prospective Carers is ‘endless’. Our student Sarah Amey carried out a bit of ‘in house’ research for us and discovered that in Hampshire alone there are over 100 Independent Fostering Agencies. This represents one third of all agencies in the UK all in one county, including CFT! Fierce competition indeed.
Our first trustee meeting of 2017 is coming up this month and I’m very happy to share with you all that our very own former CEO Tom Gormley will officially be sworn in as a trustee for the Trust! I’m sure you’ll join with me in officially welcoming him to the board and wishing him a very long and successful tenure, welcome Tom!
I look forward to keeping you all ‘up to speed’ throughout 2017, but as always, my thanks and enormous gratitude for all you do for CFT, we couldn’t be CFT without each and every one of you,