Second Chances: A Journey Through Foster Care

This heartfelt poem was written by an 11-year-old under the care of Progress Fostering Service. This young poet beautifully captures their journey and the transformative power of foster care.

My life was no fun

My fears would make me run.

Until out of the blue

I met you.

 

I became a foster child not once but twice

When I hurt myself you gave me ice.

You helped me learn

Everything I get I earn.

 

I am a little bit sad

Sometimes I get a little bit mad.

Me and my brothers would hit and hit

Until one day we got split.

 

We see each other often

We all need a correction.

I’ve learnt a lot of things

And my foster carer says

Teamwork makes the dream work.

 

I do much better now in foster care

I smile most days

I hope you can do a favour

And help people to become more able

And children who have lost hope

And start believing

Bring them in and give them a second chance in life.

 

As we celebrate Foster Care Fortnight, we invite individuals and families in the Midlands who are interested in fostering to join us. Together, we can make a profound difference in the lives of children and young people in need of stability and care.

To learn more about fostering with Progress Fostering Service and how you can become a foster carer, please visit progresscare.co.uk/fostering or contact us directly at 01902 561066.

Celebrating Foster Care Fortnight 2024: Recognising Our Exceptional Foster Carers

As Foster Care Fortnight 2024 officially kicks off today, Progress Fostering Service, an outstanding division of Progress Children’s Services, takes immense pride in celebrating the dedication and impact of our remarkable foster carers. This significant event, running from May 13th to May 26th, is a testament to the profound role foster carers play in transforming the lives of vulnerable children and young people across and beyond the Midlands. 

At Progress Fostering Service, fostering isn’t just a service; it’s our passion and commitment to providing safe, nurturing homes where children can thrive. We are honoured to recognise the outstanding contributions of our foster carers who embody compassion, resilience, and unwavering support for the children in their care. 

Phil O’Brien, Registered Manager of the Fostering Service at Progress Children’s Services, emphasised the significance of Foster Care Fortnight: “This fortnight is a special occasion to shine a light on the incredible work of our foster carers. They truly are unsung heroes, offering stability and love to children who need it the most.” 

Tina Bhardwaj, Head of Children’s Services at Progress, added, “Foster Care Fortnight allows us to showcase the critical importance of fostering and the positive impact it has on vulnerable young people. Our foster carers exemplify the values we hold dearly at Progress: care, trust, respect and progress, and the belief that every child deserves a nurturing home.” 

Bal Dhanoa, CEO of Progress, echoed these sentiments, stating, “We are immensely proud of our Ofsted-rated outstanding fostering service. This recognition reflects our unwavering commitment to providing the highest standards of care and support to both our foster carers and the children entrusted to us.” 

As we celebrate Foster Care Fortnight, we invite individuals and families in the Midlands who are interested in fostering to join us. Together, we can make a profound difference in the lives of children and young people in need of stability and care.

To learn more about fostering with Progress Fostering Service and how you can become a foster carer, please visit progresscare.co.uk/fostering or contact us directly at 01902 561066.

Let us continue to champion the extraordinary efforts of our foster carers and advocate for the transformative power of fostering in our communities.

How the darkness of COVID-19 led Jackie to the brightness of fostering

Meet Jackie, one of the incredible foster carers at Progress, a place where she’s not just a foster carer but an integral part of an outstanding service that is supporting children and families across and beyond the Midlands. She’s all about making positive changes in kids’ lives, and she’s been doing it for over four years now. 

Just like several other foster carers, Jackie’s journey into fostering wasn’t planned out. It all started during the chaos of the COVID-19 lockdown. She’d always wanted to foster, but life kept getting in the way. “I’ve always wanted to foster, but circumstances never aligned until the lockdown,” Jackie reflects. When she and her husband had to stay home because of his health, fostering suddenly seemed like the right path. And it turned out, her husband had always wanted to foster too, so it felt like fate. 

Since then, Jackie’s been part of Progress. Just like several other foster carers with Progress, Jackie stumbled upon Progress online, and it’s been a perfect fit ever since. She talks about how everyone at Progress is always ready to help out, making it feel like a supportive community.  

“Everybody is always keen to help. You know nothing is a problem and if you have got a problem, they are all sorted out for you. There is always somebody there to help you out and so you’re not left on your own,” Jackie emphasises. 

What Jackie loves most about fostering? Well, everything! Whether it’s opening her home to children in need of emergency placement, helping families in need of a break, or committing to long-term care, Jackie is all in. To her, fostering isn’t just a job; it’s her calling. She says she gets so much joy from knowing she’s making a difference in the lives of children. 

“I just love it all. Whether it’s emergency placements, respite care, or long-term fostering, I embrace each opportunity with open arms and a nurturing heart.” 

And Jackie’s not planning on slowing down anytime soon. Even at 63, retirement isn’t on her mind. She is determined to keep supporting kids for as long as she can. “I get great pleasure out of doing what I do,” she affirms. 

Jackie’s story is inspiring. Her dedication to fostering with Progress shows just how much one person can do to help children when there is abundant support and guidance. Jackie and her partner are proving that a little love and care can make a huge difference in someone’s life. 

Do you connect with Jackie’s story or is your journey to considering fostering different from Jackie’s? Talk to us today and we will gladly support you to bring your fostering dreams to reality.

If you are considering fostering, please get in touch with Progress via enquiry.fostering@progresscare.co.uk to find out more. 

Celebrating Achievements: A Glance at Progress Fostering Service Awards Event

In a heartwarming celebration of dedication and compassion, Progress Fostering Service which includes the fostering team, foster carers and other stakeholders, recently gathered to commemorate the service’s remarkable achievements of 2023. Held with joyous spirits, the event not only highlighted the milestones but also served as a testament to the profound impact of fostering with Progress.

Among the highlights of the evening were the presentations of certificates of achievement, celebrating years of unwavering commitment and tireless support and services provided by the foster carers. It was a momentous occasion as those who had dedicated years to fostering with Progress were honoured for their remarkable contributions.

As the ceremony unfolded, the room buzzed with an atmosphere of appreciation and gratitude. The heartfelt speeches echoed the sentiments of the entire Progress Fostering Service community, acknowledging the invaluable role played by each foster carer in transforming the lives of children and young people.

Captured within the frames of the photographs are moments brimming with pride and camaraderie. Smiles adorned the faces of foster carers as they celebrated those that received their well-deserved accolades, their eyes gleaming with a sense of fulfillment that comes from knowing they are making a difference.

The event was a tapestry of emotions – from jubilation to quiet reflection, from shared laughter to silent tears of joy. The event was a celebration of foster carers’ stories of resilience, compassion, and unwavering dedication, weaving together the threads of countless lives touched and transformed through the power of fostering.

Looking back on these cherished memories reminded attendees of the profound impact of fostering – not just on the lives of the children and young people entrusted to the care of Progress Fostering Service, but also on the lives of people involved, especially the individual foster carers. Foster carers in attendance summarily described fostering as a journey that delivers the best rewards for everyone involved when it is defined and guided by love.

Indeed, the event was more than just a celebration of achievements; it was a celebration of the human spirit, of the profound capacity for compassion and kindness that resides within Progress’ foster carers. It reinforced the spirit of camaraderie and dedication that defines fostering, knowing that every milestone reached by a child is a testament to the transformative power of love and care.

Progress is Proud to Support Employees to Become Foster Carers

Progress Children’s Services Ltd and Progress Adult Living Services Ltd, collectively known as Progress, are happy to announce we are part of the Fostering Network’s ‘Fostering Friendly Employers’ programme and as such, we have implemented a fostering friendly policy for employees who foster or applying to do so. Through this policy, Progress offers up to five additional days of paid leave, to enable staff to complete their fostering commitments, training and other critical activities in the role or in the application and approval process.

Angeline Freer, Head of Corporate and Commercial Services at Progress explains “In addition to always looking for more ways to support our workforce, I felt it was important as a fostering agency to support this initiative and our employees to foster, given the critical need for more families for children who need them, which is ultimately why we exist”.

The Fostering Network, a membership body, is the UK’s leading fostering charity. Their Executive Chair, Mervyn Erskine says ‘becoming a fostering friendly employer is something to be really proud of. Foster carers are the bedrock of children’s social care, for the difference they make to the lives of children. It is important that this vital role is not only recognised, but also encouraged by employers.  

Angeline added, “By supporting our employees to foster, be that through us or another agency, we can help to address the thousands of extra fostering households needed in the UK, for the children who need them most”. 

The fostering community is open to people from all walks of life, no matter your age, gender, relationship status or sexual orientation. If you are considering fostering, please get in touch with Progress via enquiry.fostering@progresscare.co.uk to find out more. 

A Year of Dedication and Care: Fostering Service Reflects

The staff team and foster carers have again gone above and beyond to make sure we are providing the right opportunities and outcomes for our young people.

The yuletide season is here and Phil, the Registered Manager of the Fostering Service at Progress Children’s Services, extends his heartfelt congratulations to the entire team for their unwavering dedication and hard work throughout 2023. In a goodwill message, Phil expresses gratitude to those who have played a pivotal role in providing exceptional care to the children under their charge.

“I would like to congratulate everyone involved with the fostering service throughout this year for the hard work, commitment and dedication they have shown in providing outstanding care to the children we look after,” says Phil, acknowledging the collective effort that has defined the service’s success over the past year.

Fostering Service at Progress Children’s Services has thrived on the commitment and dedication exhibited by both the staff team and foster carers. “The staff team and foster carers have again gone above and beyond to make sure we are providing the right opportunities and outcomes for our young people,” notes Phil, emphasising the tireless efforts put forth to ensure the well-being and positive development of the children in their care.

Going beyond the call of duty, the team has tirelessly worked to ensure that the children receive the best possible care and opportunities. “Throughout this period, we have had brilliant support groups for both carers and children and looked to deliver training that is engaging and worthwhile,” Phil states, highlighting the comprehensive support system in place to foster collaboration and understanding among carers and children.

Throughout the year, Progress Fostering Service has not only met but exceeded expectations by delivering engaging and worthwhile training. “We have provided events like the youth club, Summer Event Day, and pantomime that have given us incredible feedback,” Phil shares, underlining the service’s commitment to not only meeting the basic needs of the children but also creating enriching experiences that contribute to their overall development.

As we approach the New Year, Phil extends warm wishes to all those involved, expressing gratitude to every single person who has made a positive impact on a child’s life in 2023. “We hope you enjoy the holiday period and thanks to every single person who has had a positive impact on any child in 2023, and we hope you have a happy new year,” he says, encapsulating the service’s appreciation for the collective effort that has made a difference in the lives of the children.

The message from Phil encapsulates a year marked by compassion, resilience, and a shared commitment to the well-being of the children in the care of Progress Fostering Service. As we bid farewell to 2023, we join in celebrating the achievements and successes of the fostering service, while looking ahead to a future filled with even greater accomplishments and contributions to the community.

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.

 

UCAS Blog

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.