Small Business Awards 2020

Best Foster Carer Support Provider - UK For a foster carer of children and young people, the experience can be both rewarding and challenging, often requiring support and advice. FosterTalk was created in 2004 to deliver this, giving foster carers across the UK access to effective support networks and resources to help them in their important, life-enhancing role. Today, helping more than 20,000 households across the UK, FosterTalk ensures foster carers are given the necessary, high-quality and independent support they require so that they can focus on creating a supportive family environment for the children and young people in their care. Established in 2004, FosterTalk provides a range of services for fostering households, including access to fostering advisors, legal and medical advice, counselling, legal expenses insurance, tax and benefits advice as well as to a wide range of lifestyle discounts. The non-profit organisation was created in response to the perceived need for support for foster parents and carers who were taking on the unique and challenging journey of foster care. Children and young people in the care system present many additional needs which are constantly increasing, whilst the access to services for these needs are becoming increasingly restricted as a result of pressures on existing budgets and longer waiting lists. This leaves many children and young people without the services they require, a situation which is not permissible to FosterTalk. The organisation is therefore dedicated to the promotion of research and development of foster care services and works with recognised experts and professionals across academic institutions and fellow charitable bodies to help influence and increase the availability of services. Today, FosterTalk provides support to more than 20,000 households across the UK with a commitment to giving high-quality, independent support services for carers and foster parents, so that they can focus on their crucial role of caring for vulnerable children and young people, ensuring that they have the same access to a supportive family environment and the opportunities that come with that as other children and young people within their community. For FosterTalk, this is the primary objective of their work and is what drives them in their development and growth. As the Centre of Excellence UK for the Martin James Foundation and associated group, a network of organisations dedicated to the deinstitutionalisation of childcare, FosterTalk collaborates with Centres of Excellence around the world, based in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Japan. The small but driven team at FosterTalk is made up of individuals from a range of backgrounds and experiences in different sectors of social and foster care, who are driven by the life-changing work they do, rather than any financial gains. Most skills can be taught, but attitude, personality and devotion to the support of vulnerable children cannot. Every teammember is able to make use of the resources and opportunities created through membership of the Martin James Foundation to grow and develop their own organisation to offer the best, most thorough support it can for children, young people and foster carers. This knowledge and understanding are able to be drawn together with feedback from service users who have personal experience with FosterTalk, to create valuable insights that can be employed when taking on new projects. Most recently, for example, FosterTalk has seen a national increase in special guardianship orders being made to both extended family members and foster carers over the last few years. While a child is in foster care, the local authority and fostering services have an obligation to provide guidance and support to the foster carer. This changes when a special guardianship order is made and often the guardian needs to manage the relationship between themselves, the child and the birth family without any support. This puts special guardians at a similar risk to foster carers of having an allegation made against them. To combat this, FosterTalk has implemented its industry knowledge to introduce a special guardians membership package, which provides legal insurance to cover legal assistance including court costs, interview under caution, civil court costs and discharge of the order challenges, as well as counselling, medical, tax and benefits services. This goes hand in hand with FosterTalk’s continued efforts to increase the support given to a greater number of foster carers and guardians looking after those children and young people who have been displaced from their birth homes and families. Balancing the intimate, friendly and personal approach which FosterTalk takes great pride in with professional, well researched services, FosterTalk is looking ahead to a future of sustainable growth built for and around the care of children and young people who need it most. Contact: Steven Stockley Company: FosterTalk Web Address: Sep20613