The CEO’s letter
Since my last letter in February we have been very busy recruiting new staff and Foster Carers as well as moving offices and preparing for the launch of our exciting rebrand. We now have new Social Work staff in all four of our regional offices as well as a new Assistant Accountant in our head office. I would like to welcome Lisa, Jacqui, Alison, Becci, Sarah, Michelle, Mandi and Jola to The CFT. You can read a little more about some of them elsewhere in this and future editions.
When setting our annual budget we try to factor in at what point we will need additional staff to manage growth, as a result we appoint staff at various times throughout the year. This usually ties in with an increase in Foster Carer numbers and I’m pleased to report that we currently have 22 new families in assessment. A number of these applicants have come to us via word of mouth, often the very best way to recruit really high caliber Carers, so for those of you that were kind enough to promote CFT, thank you!
As I reported earlier this year our West Yorkshire team who were originally situated on the Nostell Priory estate in Wakefield were on the move. We’ve now moved just a few miles away to new offices in Brindley Way in Wakefield. The new office is conveniently situated close to the motorway for ease of access and covers twice the amount of floor space spread over two storeys.
The team are now well settled and the office is currently undergoing some refurbishments. Once completed we will hold a ‘Grand Opening’ inviting all to come and visit! We plan to include a room just for therapeutic work which will hopefully benefit a number of the children we care for. There is a large training room which will also mean that all of our training events and Panel meetings in the region can be held on site rather than having to outsource venues, which can be costly.
The official launch of our rebrand will finally take place on July 31st. This will involve the relaunch of our current website with several additional features alongside new promotional paraphernalia and the new logo on all of our documentation and signage. This project has not been without its hitches and blips so in advance of the launch I would like to thank Jessica Harper and Shelley Candlin in particular for all of their consistent hard work with this, well done ladies and a very big thank you.
We are due our first Ofsted Inspection this summer in our North East region under the new inspection framework. In essence this means that rather than the 2 weeks-notice from Ofsted we normally receive ahead of an inspection, we will only be given 48 hours notice.
As with all things that are Ofsted this will no doubt be a challenge but one we are aware of and can only prepare for well in advance. Going forward all agencies will have to get their heads around being consistently ‘Ofsted ready’, which in my view can only be a good thing for our Carers and children.
Earlier this year the Department of Education launched the ‘National Fostering Stock Take’ which is being conducted by Sir Martin Narey and Mark Owers. This is a call for evidence to better understand the fostering system in England. The purpose of this Stock Take is to understand what is working well and why, where improvements are needed to achieve better outcomes for children and identify areas for further research. It will specifically focus on the types of fostering currently offered by providers, the status, role and function of Foster Carers in relation to other professionals, how we commission, regulate and inspect fostering settings, what works best in fostering settings to improve outcomes for children and young people and how we can improve the experiences of young people entering foster care, transitioning between placements, and leaving foster care. The closing date for submissions was June 16th and the Stock Take should be completed in December 2017. It is my view that we can only learn from the outcomes of this project and I look forward to sharing the outcomes with you all early next year.
Communication and consultation become more of a challenge as we grow and something I spend a considerable amount of time thinking about! As such over the past couple of years I have introduced Staff and Foster Carer Forums which allows each group of individuals to come together annually and discuss how we might do things better or differently in a way that benefits all stakeholders. Staying with this theme, discussions are underway regarding the launch of an annual awards ceremony for our children and Carers which will formally recognize some of the outstanding achievements and remarkable work that goes on day in day out. Alongside this we are also in the throes of developing a staff bulletin which will keep all staff up to date regarding changes to practice, policies and procedures throughout the year……so watch this space for updates!
Finally, the summer holidays are almost upon us and it’s looking like we might get a ‘real’ summer this year, here’s hoping! As always I would like to say a huge thank you to all of you that work tirelessly to ensure that The CFT continues to provide the best possible care to the children we look after, it is my belief that you all do a truly remarkable and incredibly worthwhile job. I do hope you all have a very enjoyable, sunny and relaxing break, my warmest wishes and thanks to you all.