The Foster Carer Assessment

We caught up with Marianne and Jason who have reached the end of their fostering assessment, after a slight delay due to an unfortunate plumbing issue in their home. Yes, we appreciate these things do happen – They are now heading to panel!

Here’s what they said:

Well, the fostering assessment has been a new experience to us both with the home checks and regular visits, but we work closely with social workers and other professionals in our social care jobs, so the information has been easy for us to understand and take on board. We’ve had full support from Ruth, Neelam & most definitely our assessor Nicole – what a true asset she is to Progress and we’re hoping that we see her as much as we do after panel as we’ve all built such a good relationship.

The training has been really interesting, it’s more in depth than what our current workplace use. It has been a stressful time, but that isn’t due to the assessment or training, but due to the unfortunate circumstances with our home and emergency repairs which were needed- but talking this through with our assessor our panel date moved back an extra month and we’ve finally got there.

We’re both very excited but nervous at the same time as it’s a new line of care for us, but I’m sure we will do great as we work well together as a team, and our young son is aware that another child will be coming to stay, and he claps his hands and says “friend”.

Throughout the whole process the only thing we found hard was reconnecting with people from our past and some difficulties to get references in place. Overall, it has been a pleasure to get to know other people who work within Progress and hear their advice, as that’s something we can take on board and learn from as we grow as foster carers.

We would like to wish Marianne and Jason all the best as they go to panel, and we are confident they have a bright future ahead of them.

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”.

If this story resonates with you, perhaps you could be the next carer to make a positive difference in children’s lives. Get in touch to find out more about being a foster carer.



Do you have the skills to support a child that has just arrived in the UK without any parents?

Are you able to support a child that has suffered persecution due to their ethnicity, religion, culture, views or spoken language?

Would you be able to make a child feel safe, secure, and loved within your family home?

If you have answered yes to these questions then we at Progress would love to hear from you.

Many of these children arrive in the UK without their parents or carers and therefore are required to go into care to keep them safe as there is no suitable family member or guardian to care for them.

Alongside providing the child with a safe and loving home environment you may also need to support them through the process of applying for permission to stay in the UK. You may have to support them in gaining education or ensuring their health needs are met all of which will enable the child to have a better and brighter future. Many unaccompanied children seeking asylum will also have particular emotional, practical, language and cultural needs that their foster carers will have to consider.

We at progress will support you with meeting the needs of the child with daily, weekly and monthly supervision, training around meeting the needs of an unaccompanied child, in-depth training around becoming a foster carer, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on-call support, a dedicated supervising social worker designated to you, a supportive and knowledgeable team, the opportunity to meet other likeminded foster carers, a family support worker to support both you the carer and the child and also an in house therapist who will be able to tailor support sessions to meet your needs and also support to the child to support them to come to terms with their journey.

If you feel that supporting an unaccompanied child is for you, please give us a call and let’s make a difference in a child’s life today 😊

The most common 12 fostering myths – busted!

Fostering is one of the most selfless and courageous things one can do; however, it can come with anxieties and common misconceptions surrounding the process.

If you’re someone who has considered fostering, but has unanswered questions – you are not alone. In this blog post we take some of the most common misconceptions about fostering and bust them!

Please keep reading to find out what some of these common (untrue) assumptions are to educate yourself and maybe anyone else you know that might want to foster but has been limiting themselves based on these reasons or more.

The most common fostering myths:

  • I don’t own a home, so I can’t foster This is not true. You actually don’t need to own your home to be able to foster. What’s important, is that you can provide a safe, secure and loving home.
  • I am on benefits I can’t foster Being on benefits does not affect your ability to foster a child. In addition to this, if you’re on JSA or ESA, your benefits will not be affected as your fostering income will not be classed as income.
  • I am unemployed, so I can’t fosterSome foster children require around the clock care, and therefore require a foster carer who is available 24/7, meaning there would be no time for a full time job outside of foster caring, so you would definitely be considered.
  • I can’t drive Driving is not necessary as you will be paired with a foster child who suits your ability.
  • I am disabled, so I cannot take care of a childNot strictly true. Having a disability does not stop you being able to care for a child. In some cases this may be true, but more often than not, a child will be found easily who will be matched to your circumstances and ability.
  • I’m single, so I can’t foster Single people can foster too. You will be matched with a foster child who fits your ability.
  • I smokeIf you smoke there are restrictions to fostering, however you can still foster children over six years old.
  • I would love to foster, but I am gayThis doesn’t matter. You can foster if you are gay, straight or single. As long as you can provide a stable, secure and loving home, you will be considered.
  • I have my birth children, so I can’t foster This can be beneficial in some circumstances. Regardless of whether you have birth children, foster children or no children, you will be considered for fostering.
  • I am retired and therefore too old to foster Whether you retired at 40, 50, or 60, you will still be considered for fostering.
  • I have pets in my home, so I can’t become a foster carer Not true. As long as your pets pass their assessment (carried out by us) then you can foster.
  • I don’t have any children, so I don’t have the experience to foster a child Some foster children are better off in a childless home for many different reasons. Therefore, people who don’t have their own children will always be considered for fostering.

The entire process of fostering has been designed in a way that is flexible and responsive to the reflection of everyday life and people. This means that the process positively considers different life circumstances by catering to each individual’s situation instead of the opposite. A significant number of young people require support, care, consistency and happiness, meaning that it only makes sense to have a diverse range of foster carers available who reflect the different cultures and variety of the young people that come into the care environment.

The bottom line is that we are looking for people that can provide a child with safety and an opportunity to flourish.

If you or someone you know feel that you can be that person, don’t count yourself out on misconceptions; call or email us at Progress to find out more about fostering and answer any of your questions.

Want to find out more about fostering with Progress? Speak to our team today.


What is the Skills to Foster Training?

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 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 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 Our Foster Carers Say

We know how much time and emotional investment it takes to become a foster carer. From looking for a reputable independent fostering agency to going through panel, it is important that you are comfortable with the people around you.

We have close relationships with our foster carers and are there to support them at any given time.

At their latest foster carers annual review, the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) asked Progress’s foster carers about their experiences with the company.

Here are some comments from our carers:

  • Sarah and Russell commented that Progress are supportive as an agency and are pleased there have never been any problems in working with them. They appreciate the open relationship they can have with them and that they do not feel judged.

  • Mary feels she has a good relationship with Michelle who has supervised her for the previous two years. The information she gives is always reliable and clear.

  • Wendy said the support from the agency has been consistent. She has not had to use the Out Of Hours service and it is very rare that she needs to contact them about specific incidences. However, she has the number available and knows she would be able to get hold of someone.

  • James regularly attends the Progress social events for foster carers and enjoys them. He appreciates there is a forum to meet and share experiences with other foster carers.

Fostering can be challenging, but you’re never alone. We’ll always be there and whenever you need us, 24/7, 365 days a year.

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, or call 01902 561066 and we will be happy to help.

Foster Carer Stories: Short Breaks Foster Care

Short breaks foster care is a temporary placement while future plans for the child / young person(s) are confirmed. A placement can last from a few days to a few months.

But how does this all work in reality? We spoke to one of our foster carers Jane on her experiences.

short breaks foster 

Jane and Mark with their Progress Supervisor Social Worker: Michelle

Why short breaks foster care?

My name is Jane. My partner Mark and I are approved Progress short break foster carers; specialising in children who have profound disabilities and challenging behaviours.

Short breaks fostering gives families or a parent without a support network a chance to recharge their batteries.

There are many reasons why a family or parent may need this kind of support. For Harvey’s mum, it was because of her need for a monthly break. With Harvey’s diagnosis of Syngap1, she had a lot to deal with, especially being on her own.

Whether you are a birth parent or carer, a problematic home environment can be very stressful without a break. So, as a short breaks foster carer, we give them support when they need it most.

There is no time limit for short breaks fostering. It can last a day, a weekend, or sometimes a week or more. The duration all depends on the needs of the family.

Our first visitor was Harvey

Despite Harvey being small and angelic looking, he was a perplexed and angry little five-year-old.

Harvey’s mum loved him dearly, but needed help. She contacted Progress and then their fostering team contacted us.

After his first visit, we were exhausted. Having gone through 48 hours with only two hours’ sleep, Mark and I really questioned ourselves as to whether we could carry on. Harvey had great difficulty sleeping, which was mainly due to his inability to self-regulate.

However, over the next five years, my partner and I became very attached to Harvey. We found him endearing and a lot of fun to be with. You learn to adapt to a child’s needs. There were times Harvey could not deal with new people being brought into the house, so all visitors were banned when he was here. That was just how things had to be – he had to be put first.

So, how did we cope?

My partner and I developed our own strategies. Generally, this involved lots of exercising and fresh country air. Get something that works for you as it will pay dividends for your well-being and ultimately, for the child or young person you’re caring for. 

Coming to an end

Harvey’s mum met a new partner and got married. The wedding day was special. We took Harvey to a country hotel and dressed him in a full wedding suit, including tail and cravat. I held Harvey’s hand as he led the wedding party up the aisle.

All the family and friends commented on how well he had coped with the day. As we left the wedding venue, my partner and I felt a lot of emotion. We were so happy Harvey was there for his mum.

We stopped caring for Harvey at aged 10. His mum was managing better, as she had the support from her new partner.

We look back on the five years we supported and cared for Harvey as a pleasure.

Ready to make that first step? Click here to find out how you can become a short breaks foster carer. 

Working in Care Stories: Kim

Kim is a Team Leader at Progress’s Children’s Short Breaks service, Stourbridge House.

This is her story.

It was Kim Williams’ younger brother who inspired her to work in care. ‘He is autistic and I grew up caring for him,’ she says. ‘I love him to bits, he is such a character and I wanted to help people in a similar situation.’

Kim was just 18 when she became a volunteer for Progress, helping out with activities in the community to gain experience before she started studying for a social work degree. When she went to university, she was a support worker for Progress in her spare time. She then decided to focus on moving forward with her career full time.

‘Progress is a lovely company to work for. I think you are really valued as an employee,’ she says. ‘My line manager identified I had the ability to progress and supported me. I feel that support has been ongoing ever since.’

Kim went on to a senior position in The Hub, helping young people to develop their independence.

Now, at 22, she is team leader at Stourbridge House, which provides short breaks for children aged 5 to 18, giving families a break from day-to-day care. Stourbridge House provides a range of activities like trips to the seaside and theme parks, as well as supporting children and young people to move towards independence and grow in confidence.

Kim’s role involves managing and supervising staff, helping to run the home and supporting the young people. ‘No two days are the same,’ she says. ‘We have 40 different families, so every day different combinations of children come in. It’s really enjoyable to work with children with a variety of needs. Some days we have a child with severe challenging behaviour, other days it’s a child with severe learning difficulties and physical disabilities.

‘It’s lovely to see the children make progress and to see the families being able to have a break, with confidence their children are being well looked after. The children make a lot of progress here.’

Kim has encouraged others to follow in her footsteps and work for Progress. ‘Progress provide such a variety of support,’ she says. ‘It gives you the chance to find your niche and see what you enjoy. I was able to pinpoint where I wanted to be.’

She is hoping to continue moving forward in her career with Progress and one day she would like to manage a home. ‘At the moment I’m really happy in the role I’m in,’ she says.

Kim says it is more a way of life than a job. ‘I absolutely love it,’ she says. ‘It’s a homely environment and you are coming to support children. The children are all absolutely amazing. They are such a joy to work with and every single one of them has their own qualities. You build relationships with them. When I have annual leave and I have been off for a couple of weeks I miss it. I can’t wait to get back and see the kids. It’s a really rewarding role.’

Are you inspired by Kim’s story? A career in care awaits you. Start your journey by clicking here to apply for a job at Progress today.