The Fostering Network Strategic Plan 2012-2017
Who are we?
The Fostering Network is the voice of foster care. Set up in 1974 by a group of foster carers and social workers who recognised the importance of working together to improve the lives of children in care, we provide a vital support service and campaigning voice on behalf of foster care.We are the UK’s leading charity for everyone involved in fostering, bringing together all those who provide, plan and deliver foster care. We have a membership base that includes 99 per cent of local authorities and health and social services trusts, over 57,000 foster carers and more than 170 independent fostering providers. As such we are uniquely placed to represent the views and concerns of all those involved in foster care, and are in a strong position to influence the ways in which foster care can develop, change and improve in order to meet the needs of children and young people in care. We do this through policy development, training, advice, information, publications, consultancy, individual projects and services to support the work of foster carers and fostering services. We also strive to inform, influence and persuade policy-makers and to improve public understanding of foster care.
Our governance arrangements
The Fostering Network is led by a board of trustees, who are responsible for ensuring the organisation meets its charitable objectives as efficiently as possible. The board is comprised of elected members including foster carers and those with experience of managing a fostering service. They agree the strategy and monitor progress against objectives on a quarterly basis.
Our vision is of a foster care service that works for every fostered child and every foster family.
Our mission is to achieve a foster care service that is supported, trained and resourced, so that it can provide a stimulating, healthy and positively challenging environment in which children and young people in care can be safe, nurtured and valued, stay as long as they need to and can reach their potential.
We believe that it is every child’s right to live within a safe, secure and stable family environment care and to have the opportunity to grow and develop and to reach their potential, and that children and young people in and leaving care should have the same opportunities as all other children and young people. We believe that the role of the foster carer requires skill, knowledge, expertise, self awareness, commitment, the ability to work as part of a team, to maintain standards,
and to provide a high quality, effective service to children and young people who most need it. It also requires the ability to deliver a highly personalised service, one that can often lead to foster carers and their families forming lasting relationships with the children they care for. In all of this, foster carers are key partners in the team that work together to secure the best possible outcomes for a child in care. As an organisation, we are committed to working professionally, cooperatively and innovatively. These values permeate our whole approach, and underline our success as forward thinking and responsive.
In all we do, we will:
- provide an efficient and responsive membership service
- put the best interests of the child first
- adhere to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
- work to ensure that the whole foster care workforce adheres to relevant legislation inall four countries
- promote partnership working among all those involved in fostering
- respect and value diversity and provide equality of access and opportunity
- ensure that the voices of our members are valued and that their views inform our work and future developments
- promote and support the involvement of children and young people in and affected bycare in our work
- have a four nation approach, working with and through the separate Governments
- respond to local needs as appropriate.
The next five years
Our objectives over the next five years are to:
- Engage with our members and stakeholders through discussion, debate and regular communications in order to understand their needs and priorities, and to enable them to learn together and from each other
- Support and empower our members, their families and the foster care workforce–foster carers, social workers, other professionals working with children in care - so that children and young people in care can grow, be valued and contribute positively to society
- Influence at national and local level in order to achieve change and continually improve outcomes for children and young people in foster care and leaving care
- Champion foster care in order to raise the profile of foster carers and the vital service they provide to children and the value of this to wider society
- Innovate so that our members are able to respond to the changing world of fostering and the challenges and opportunities that it faces
How we will achieve our objectives
We will further develop our links with our members and stakeholders through discussion,debate and regular communications in order to understand and respond to their needs and priorities, and to enable them to learn together and from each other by:
- Building networks and communities of members and stakeholders to share and learn from their experiences and their practice, both in person and online
- Working with our members to ensure that their views and ideas are reflected throughout our work
- Holding conferences and other events in order to promote good practice.
Support and empower
We will support and empower our members, their families and the foster care workforce, so that children and young people in care can grow, be valued and contribute positively to society by:
- Producing relevant, up to date information and resources in a variety of formats so that the workforce are skilled and knowledgeable and can use that knowledge to improve the lives of children and young people
- Providing high quality advice at point of need
- Supporting fostering families through a range of activities
- Providing services - including Fostering Achievement and learning and development - that assist our members in helping children and young people in their care to achieve their potential.
We will work with our members and stakeholders to influence at national and local level in order to achieve the full implementation of the Together for Change objectives and continually improve outcomes for children by:
- Securing effective relationships with governments, agencies and key individuals
- Taking the lead across the UK to ensure that foster care has active, high level support in central government, devolved governments and at local level in order to meet the needs of fostered children and foster carers
- Ensuring our members views contribute towards and inform our policy objectives
- Influencing at a local level through the promotion and demonstration of good practice and raising standards
- Undertaking research to inform our work
- Working with children and young people to ensure that their voices are heard in the development of policy and practice, nationally and locally.
We will champion foster care in order to raise the profile of foster carers and the quality of service they and their families deliver to children and wider society by:
- Increasing the numbers of foster carers who can meet the diverse needs of children and young people in care
- Promoting foster care through a range of media and in public forums in order to raise awareness of what foster care is, what it does, and the value it brings to children and young people and to society as a whole
- Working with children and young people with experience of foster care in order to ensure their voice is heard, they are enabled to contribute to the development of practice and their personal development is supported.
We will innovate so that our members are able to respond to the changing world of fostering and the challenges and opportunities that it faces by:
- Responding to our members needs and developing services and projects to meet those needs
- Identifying and promoting new ideas, drawing on best practice and implementing new ways of working.
Monitoring and reviewing progress
This document is supported by business plans and key performance indicators (KPIs) which are monitored and reviewed regularly by the senior management team and quarterly by the Trustee board. Progress, success and learning are reflected in our annual report and annual review.