What is Skills to Foster?

One of the most frequently asked fostering questions is about the type of support a foster carer will receive.

As a foster carer, we want to ensure you are equipped to manage a child or young person’s behaviour.

Therefore, the Progress Skills to Foster training is our chance to prepare you for the challenges of fostering.

What is Skills to Foster?

Skills to Foster is a two-day mandatory training course that all new applicants must complete before becoming approved as a foster carer.

The course is a flexible resource tool and supports new applicants to:

  • understand the different types of placements
  • understand the child/young person journey through their eyes
  • understand and manage their behaviours.
  • learn the vital skills to meet the day to day needs of fostering.

The course also links into the Training, Support and Development Standards in England, other professional development qualifications, as well as our competency-based assessment process.

Skills to Foster is split into the following seven sessions:

Session 1: What do foster carers do?

This first session will give you an insight into your role as a foster carer and focus on why children/young people come into care, why foster care is needed and, how their early life experiences may have impacted their development.

You will also learn what a child or young person will need from you as their foster carer.

Session 2: Identity and life chances

This session addresses the different factors that shape our identity and the importance of identity to a child/young person in care.

Session 3: Working with others

In session three, we will introduce the Progress team. You will learn who will support you in the needs of the child/young person and how you will be working as part of a team and never in isolation.

Session 4: Understanding and caring for children

This session explores the learnt behaviours that the child/young person may exhibit. You will also understand the concept of attachment and the kinds of attachments children/young people in care may possess. These are key concepts to grasp, so you have a non-judgemental understanding of the different behaviours.

Session 5: Safer caring

This session covers safeguarding and delegated authority and exploring why children/young people in care are particularly vulnerable. The session will also equip you with the skills to assess risk competency, balance risk, and develop responsive and proportionate family safer caring plans.

Session 6: Transitions

Within session six, you will look at the importance of foster carers and their families, supporting a child when moving from one placement to another and young people’s transition to adulthood.

Session 7: My Family Fosters

This session provides specialist materials to use with your birth children to ensure that they feel supported and included within your fostering journey.

We support all out foster carers. To learn more about how we do this please click here

To begin your journey in becoming a foster carer contact us today

Progress turns 21!

As we begin our year long festivities celebrating 21 years of supporting children and young people, Progress Chief Executive Bal Dhanoa and Chief Financial Officer Raj Dhanoa have a special message for our staff.

“Thank you all for your continued support, commitment, and dedication to Progress.

  • We are proud of our journey so far, we continue to make happy memories for our young people, so when they reach ‘adulthood’ they can reflect back and think of their time at Progress and what that means for them
  • We are proud to give stability to those needing long term care
  • We are proud to provide a range of amazing support services and care options to so many in our communities through our Hub teams
  • We are proud to expand our residential care portfolio across the Midlands – each home have their own unique offerings
  • We are proud of our foster carers, some whom have been with us right from the start of our journey and all those joining us now and, in the future

Reflecting on the time when this journey started for me, it was just a vision of what can be achieved. We started from humble beginnings and I am so blessed and proud of how the family of Progress has grown over the 21 years. Our journey has been incredible with many ripples and mountains to climb along the way. I am so proud to have such amazing people, who have been part of this journey and truly make a difference and uphold strong values as we continue to make memories.

During this journey we have had so many wonderful staff that have worked with us and developed their career paths – some moving on to achieve their own journeys and even retuning back to us. There are many of our staff who have worked with us for several years and developed their skills and moved on to senior positions within Progress. To all of you our heartfelt thank you.

There are those angels in our journey who have truly understood my vision, my passion, and have put up with my madness, in good and bad times, and have enabled my deepest desire to provide the best that we can to all vulnerable young people in our care. They remain constant, focused, always protecting us, and have been there from the start. A special thank you to our MD Claire. Without you this journey would not have been possible.

As we continue to prosper we hope and pray that we can continue to serve and make a difference in people’s lives, and continue to improve career opportunities for you all as you go through this wonderful journey with us. Always look to the future and learn from the past!

Happy 21st birthday to Progress as we all look forward to celebrating many more in years to come”.

Bal & Raj.

Keep visiting Progresscare.co.uk for further 21st celebration updates. #progress21

Progress recognised with award for Covid work

Progress was named winner of Outstanding Support During Covid-19 category at the 2020 Best Business Awards.

We have been recognised for our approach to the nationwide lockdown caused by Covid-19 in March 2020.

As lockdown came into force, Progress prioritised the care of those that relied on us for critical support. We assigned drivers, offering a ring-and-ride service to our workforce to eliminate the use of public transport and minimise the exposure risks. Progress also offered a triage service to families, to deal with any crisis that might arise and made available some flats as isolation units (and offered that resource to local authority partners).

Progress has been able to keep all residents and staff safe; continue to provide essential services to families and challenge our creativity. Our community team started digital support sessions with young people, engaging in online training on anything from e-safety to managing anxiety, providing families with support and young people with consistency. Progress staff and young people have engaged with the measures we put in place and coped exceptionally well through what has been an uncertain and anxious time, adapting and responding to the constantly shifting sands.

The BBAs pride themselves on having a large panel of independent expert judges who select winners according to strict criteria for each category and sector.

Commenting on Progress, the winner in the Outstanding Support During Covid-19 category, the chairman of the judges said: “After seeing the devastation Coronavirus was causing in Italy earlier in 2020, Progress was quick to lock down earlier than other care homes to protect its vulnerable residents both young and old. Non-essential visitors were asked not to attend care homes, virtual forms of communication were set up so residents could keep in touch with loved ones, and community staff were reassigned to other roles such as drivers, helping staff to avoid public transport. Congratulations to Progress Care for having the foresight to act quickly and keep people safe.”

Upon receiving the Award, Claire Rogers, Managing Director of Progress said:

“We always pride ourselves on providing high quality care and support, but this has been even more important throughout the Pandemic, with the additional challenges this presented. Keeping our core values at the heart of our decision making has been our strength, providing a fixed point from which to navigate. It is wonderful to have been recognised for the outstanding support we have provided during this difficult time.”

The Best Business Awards are one of the UK’s highest profile awards. Due to its high profile, the Awards attract a wide range of entries from across all sectors from large international PLCs and public sector organisations to dynamic and innovative SMEs.

Growing up in foster care: Stephanie

Growing up in foster care is not easy for some children. Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of the carer to create an atmosphere for a child to feel loved.

We asked Stephanie to share her experiences of fostering and tell us what it’s like to be in a new home.

In your foster placement, what are your favourite things?

I get to go to the park and take part in a lot of activities. I have so much fun riding on the rowboats, playing tennis and running around the track.

I told my carers that I love to read, so they bought me a lot of books. My favourite is BFG. My bedroom is a comfortable place for me to read and play. I also got to choose how I wanted to decorate my room. The room is full of teddy bears and other things that make me happy.

Do you feel encouraged and supported to do well at school? 

I get a lot of help with my homework. My foster carers always encourage me, so that when I am older, I can be whatever I want to be. Whenever I need support on certain subjects, I get it. I take part in a lot of after school activities such as extra English and maths lessons, as well as dance, karate, swimming and ballet classes.

What help do you get in difficult times?

I always sit and talk to my foster carers and ask them for help when I feel down. I enjoy my support sessions with my support worker too. I can now understand my feelings much better and learn why certain things happen.

What things are important to you, when living with a fostering family?  

They find out what children need to make them feel comfortable, like a teddy bear or a hug. I always like it when my foster carers sit with me and watch TV.

A foster carer should also encourage children to do things that they have not done before. This will make the foster child feel special, happy and loved.

If a family were thinking about fostering, what advice would you give them? 

Be kind and loving.

Ready to make a positive impact in a child’s life? Click here for more information

What does a Supervising Social Worker do?

A supervising social worker supports and guides a foster carer in every aspect of their fostering experience. We spoke to Progress supervising social worker Tendai to get an insight on her role.

It is my responsibility to develop a close working relationship with our pool of foster carers. On any given day, I can be leading, coaching, and empowering foster carers to be the best carers they can be.

Whether we are helping carers with their form F assessments or preparing them for the panel presentation, the role of a supervising social worker is a busy one!

Caring for carers

A supervising social worker must have an emotional investment in the lives of their foster carers. If a foster carer wishes to let something off their chest, I am here to listen and advise. When a carer tells me of a problem, I often find there are solutions. Helping a carer, will not only make them feel better but allows them to focus on their foster child.

Training for carers

A foster carer with the right training and support will be able to have a stable placement and ensure better outcomes for a child. I recently worked with carers to identify the training they required to support a child with complex disabilities.

The couple and wanted to be in the best possible position to help the child and were hungry to learn.

Foster carers tend not to have any formal qualifications and instead use their skills and experiences to support those in their care. However, if you care for a child with specific needs, you will need the training to help them.

The training I placed them on was personalised and delivered in a variety of ways. From face-to-face group training to individual online training, the aim is always to make learning fun and informative for the carers.

Working with others

Though primarily my role is about foster carers and children and young people, the relationships I build and the support I provide extends beyond that.

Through positive relationships with foster carers and other professionals, specifically the local authority social worker (s), foundation agreements are made, and expectations laid out.

We all have the same goals, without which, there can be a disruption for a child or young person.

The future

One of the biggest challenges I find is the lack of foster carers locally (and nationally). It is heart-breaking to know that there are children and young people out there waiting for a loving couple to support them.

We need more carers to contribute to the incredible work our foster carers are doing.

No matter what your role is in the Progress foster team, we all have one goal – to ensure the children and young people in our care have positive life outcomes. I feel humbled to be trusted with supporting children, young people, and their carers. It is a privilege to make a positive impact on all their lives.

Why I foster: Helen

In a new series of interviews we have asked Progress foster carers why they foster care and how fostering changes lives.

Helen has been caring for James and Perry with her husband, Henry. This is her story.

When you have a child of your own, you realise what a positive influence they can have on your life. My husband Henry and I had reached a stage in our lives where we did not want any more children of our own, but we did want to support and care for a child that was less fortunate than others.

Whether it is for a week or full-time, if Henry and I could change a child’s life for the better, we would.

Some of my work colleagues had experience as foster carers. The more they spoke to me about how fostering works, the more it seemed like a great way to help children.

When you start fostering, prepare for your life to change.

You will go through a lot emotionally and looking after someone else’s child will take a lot out of you. In some cases, you may only have a short time with a child or young person, maybe a year or two so it may feel like everything is happening quickly.

However, you must remember that the time you are in their lives, could be an important period for them. It is for this reason that Henry and I put all our energies into ensuring we can make a difference.

When Progress told us about James and Perry we wanted to help. The boys did not have the structure of regular family life, so we expected things to be a little chaotic. In all honestly, they were just two sweet little boys that needed love and attention.

Henry and I were nervous about the rules we wanted to implement in the house. We did not want them to feel intimidated but knew that the rules would stand all of us in good stead.

James and Perry have been fantastic at going along with everything. The boys say please and thank you and eat three meals a day, as opposed to the junk food they ate before they arrived. Routines like brushing their teeth and going to bed at set times, have helped them to live a normal life.

As a couple, Henry and I appreciate having a network of other foster carers. Progress hosts the “Voice of Progress”, a monthly club for foster children to get together and participate in fun activities. The foster carers tag along and use it as a chance to talk to each other about our experiences.

There is no set rule book for what makes a good foster carer. We all bring our uniqueness to any given situation. Having some life experience and being a caring and patient person helps.

Fostering is my way of making a positive difference in the world. Henry and I feel that giving a child the chance to succeed in life is not only good for them, but for everyone in society. If you can offer a child a home, along with the help and support they need at a difficult time in their life, then you must get involved.

Keen to know how you can change a child’s life? Click here for more information

Safeguarding children and young people

Safeguarding children and young people means protecting them from any abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

We want all foster children and young people to grow up as part of a loving family.

It is, therefore, the Progress foster team’s responsibility to give children and young people (and their carers) access to the support they need to create a safe environment.

Here are ten different ways the team achieves this.

  1. Ensuring children and young people are given online security (such as up-to-date antivirus software and parental controls)
  2. Providing children and young people with training on how to keep safe online
  3. Educating children and young people about the risks involved inside and outside the home
  4. Ensuring children and young people have the contact details of external professionals, through the Progress Young Peoples’ Handbook
  5. Working closely with the relevant agencies to record and report any issues or signs of abuse
  6. Working with our foster carers through regular risk assessments, monitoring and reporting about those in their care
  7. If children and young people receive transport to school, we work with our foster carers to ensure that they are escorted safely
  8. Providing foster carers with training to understand childhood trauma and how to create a safe environment in their home
  9. Empowering girls to talk about their feelings, hopes and dreams via the Progress girls’ group
  10. Providing one-to-one support with a personal family support worker, so children and young people can build relationships with their carers
Want to know how you can get involved and become a foster carer? Click here to learn how you can change a child’s life. If you would like to talk to us, email fostering@progresscare.co.uk, or call 01902 561066.

Why I foster: Jane

In a new series of interviews we have asked Progress foster carers why they foster care and how fostering changes lives.

Jane has been caring for Fariha. This is her story.

I have worked with and cared for young people with complex disabilities for over twenty years. I may be biased; but welcoming a young person into your home is hugely rewarding, especially when you see the positive impact you are having on their life. It is an absolute pleasure for my husband Mark and I to provide foster care.

We took a break from fostering a few years ago, to recharge our batteries and then went back to Progress with a renewed optimism to help a child. Progress informed us about Fariha, and we really wanted to care for her.

Fariha has severe disabilities and was residing in a home. She is a wheelchair user, has significant learning, speech and language delay as well as some visual and hearing problems. Fariha had an few unsettled years; having moved from place to place.

Imagine if you went through that?

We were so pleased when Fariha was placed with us.

Mark (who worked in the police force for over thirty years), was initially worried about fostering a child with complex needs, due to his lack of knowledge and experience. However, he felt more confident once he took part in the training and support Progress gave us.

In preparation for Fariha’s placement, our home was assessed by occupational health professionals and some adaptations were made.

One such example was the fitting of several small ramps inside as well as handrails, so Fariha could move freely around the house.

We asked as many questions as we could about Fariha’s needs, personality and behaviours, so she would be comfortable in her new home. A transition plan was sent to us, to ensure we had a good understanding of her daily requirements and routines, and this really helped.

Fariha’s bedroom was decorated to her own individual needs and although she cannot verbalise her preferences, we ensured her bedroom had a calming atmosphere to encourage and promote sleep and relaxation.

Taking care of a child with disabilities can seem quite daunting, and you will face a lot of challenges. Giving unconditional love to a child is a given, but you must also have patience and understanding. When you can do this, you will see many wonderful things.

At one of our first meetings, we were told not to expect any hugs or sitting on laps from Fariha, and that she would be stationary. Mark and I would always encourage her to reach out to us. Within the first month, Fariha reached out to Mark, insinuating that she wanted to be picked up! I could not believe it! Fast forward to today (with a little bit of work) – Fariha will raise up on her knees to be picked up for a cuddle or to sit on your lap.

It has been wonderful, getting to understand the faces she pulls and the noises she makes when she is happy or sad. This may seem like a little thing, but knowing where she was, to where she is now, these moments are huge! Fariha has also settled well into her new school. Her initial phased start to the term has now turned now into a full-time schedule. We are so proud of how Fariha has coped with this.

We own a caravan and take trips across the country with Fariha. She loves the beach and the noises of the waves crashing and the feeling of the wind on her face and hair.

Mark and I have committed a lot of time caring for Fariha. You must think about the demands that caring for a child has on you as an individual, a couple and wider family. As a couple we try to get away when we can and spend time together.

That said, our lives have become much richer by looking after Fariha. When I see her smile, I realise what a special girl she really is.

Keen to know how you can change a child’s life? Click here for more information

Why I foster: Joanna

In a new series of interviews we will be asking Progress foster carers why they choose to foster and why despite some challenges, fostering can bring a lot of joy.

Here’s Joanna’s story.

“You don’t help someone to get a pat on the back. My husband and I foster because we love it. Seeing a child smile because of the support we have given them makes us so happy.

For twenty-two years I was a primary school teacher, including a period where I was a foster mother in nurseries. Back in the 1980s I was also a foster parent but trying to devote time to three children of my own and a foster child was difficult. I’ve always felt that every child needs an equal amount of love and care and one should not be neglected over the other.

I learnt a lot working at the school. One of the biggest things being a child’s behaviour is not always down to them being unreasonable, it may be because they are not understanding their current situation or behaviour expectations. You can’t take things personally. I found that if I was able to nurture a child’s skills and behaviours things could change in a positive way.

Once I retired the idea of fostering kept coming back to me. Wherever I turned I saw fostering. Facebook, the internet, TV, it was everywhere! This was not a coincidence. I debated the pros with my husband, and we decided to go ahead and look for fostering agencies.

I first heard of Progress when I saw them at a summer carnival in Birmingham where I found the staff were friendly and open. I got to learn more about fostering and the different types of foster care we could provide. I went on to speak to another four agencies but found Progress the most professional. So, we chose them as our fostering agency.

The process of becoming a foster carer is rigorous. You have to be completely transparent as a couple and a family. My husband and I have been married for over forty years, so we took everything in our stride.

Once we were confirmed as foster carers, we decided that we wanted to provide short breaks. This type of fostering gives families or a parent without a support network a chance to recharge their batteries, especially when a child has a disability. Looking after my own grandchildren five days a week, meant we could make a realistic contribution to fostering of a weekend once a month without compromising our families or personal well-being. There is currently a huge demand for respite foster placements.

We ended up fostering two brothers. The younger boy was able to communicate but his older brother couldn’t. Of course, we were nervous when we began, however, you soon build a rapport with the children. Learning the fostering guidelines has helped as well as the support from Progress. We have taken part in a lot of training which has been essential for our development as foster carers.

The brothers are very active. We now take them swimming every month, go to parks, museums and nature trails – we have had some really great times.

We’ve also worked on how we could communicate better with the older child by restricting the amount of time he spends on his tablet (while in our care). We hoped he could join in conversations and use a visual timetable to communicate. I read stories to the boys and we play games like “I spy” in the car. One day I was reading the brothers a book and the little one was joining in. Suddenly the non-verbal older brother shouted – BOO! I nearly fell off my chair!

The children are now able to increase their vocabulary and interact with others. It’s wonderful when they tap me and try to say something or count.

Sometimes fostering can be hard. I make sure there’s enough time for me and my husband. We go for walks, spend time with my children and grandchildren and go to church too – we’re very close.

To anyone thinking of fostering I’d say having the ability to change a child’s future for the better is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Every child deserves a safe and secure family environment”.

Want to become a foster carer? Click here to learn how you can change a child’s life. If you would like to talk to us, email fostering@progresscare.co.uk, or call 01902 561066 and we will be happy to help.

 

What is a Parent and Child Placement?

Parent and child foster care is a unique type of fostering where a parent (usually a mother) and baby comes to stay with you at a time when they need extra support.

 

There is also the possibility the parent could be a father and sometimes you may end up looking after both (mother and father). If the parent is an adult it’s only the child who is looked after. However, if the parent is under 18 both will be looked after.

So what circumstances does a parent find themselves in to seek parent and child fostering support? Some parents may have learning difficulties or be young parents who are struggling to parent appropriately.

Why are parent and child placements needed?

Rather than referring struggling parents to residential units to have their parenting capacity assessed, a foster home is a great alternative. In some cases parents have been in the care system and have experienced adversity. Therefore going into foster care gives parents the chance to be in a more relaxed home environment.

Types of parent and child fostering

  • Assessment placements: An assessment placement usually last for last around 12 weeks and involves completing an assessment report of the parent’s ability to care for their child.
  • Pre-birth placements: Helping to prepare the parent for the birth of their child by supporting them to understand their own needs and the needs of their baby.
  • Parenting support placements: This is offered to parents who need help with learning how to provide basic care and guidance for their child. This type of placement can also be offered if the parent needs a safe place to live.

Support for you

Fostering can be challenging as well as rewarding. To help you, you will receive specialist training and support from Progress throughout your time as a foster carer. The training covers everything relating to caring for, assessing and safeguarding a young family. It includes:

  • Learning how parents form relationships with their children
  • How to assess their parenting skills
  • How to support a parent with a learning disability

You will also receive frequent visits from your dedicated social worker and have the option of therapy to help you. Progress provides out of hours support so you are never left on your own. As an agency we are committed to provide 24/7 support.

Want to become a parent and child foster carer? Click here to learn how you can change a child’s life.

If you would like to talk to us call 01902 561066 or email fostering@progresscare.co.uk and a member of our team will be happy to help.