The National Fostering Agency, based in Uxbridge, with offices throughout England, Wales and Scotland has become the first independent fostering agency to be presented with the LILAC award (Leading Improvements for Looked After Children) by the national care leavers'charity, 'A National Voice'.
The key purpose of the LILAC project is to draw upon the expertise of care-experienced young people to improve the policy and practice of agencies in how they consult with children in care and care leavers. Young people from care are trained to assess the performance of agencies against the LILAC standards by carrying out assessments of how well services involve and consult with children and young people. The tough framework of quality standards are based on the well-known 'Hear by Right' approach to participation and have been developed to closely reflect the nature of the care system.
The National Fostering Agency and its carers have been working closely with the LILAC team since early last year to meet the necessary criteria.
This culminated in a team of young LILAC assessors visiting the Bromsgrove, Lowestoft and Uxbridge NFA offices between November 2010 and January 2011 to inspect policies and interview children and young people, foster carers and members of staff about services, policies and practice.
In addition, a questionnaire was sent out to a large random sample of staff, foster carers and children and young people and the 121 responses also informed the final outcome of the assessment.
LILAC assessors felt that 'the NFA provides a quality service to the children in their care. All staff and foster parents show real commitment to developing each child to his or her full potential and providing them with a good family life, full of fun and affection. The National Fostering Agency is to be commended in this respect.'
The NFA will continue to work with LILAC assessors over the coming months to affirm its belief in the significant contribution that children and young people make to shaping NFA's services.
Jane Wilson, National Coordinator for LILAC, said: "A National Voice would like to congratulate the National Fostering Agency on being the very first Independent Fostering Agency to receive the LILAC certificate. The National Fostering Agency was the first independent to contact the LILAC team and has worked very hard during the last twelve months to achieve our standards in 'Participation for Looked after Children'."
Iain Anderson, Chief Executive of NFA, said: "I am delighted that NFA has been recognised with this prestigious award. The assessment of our services, policies and practices by trained young people who have experienced care is one of the most important accreditations we could receive. The team at NFA focus every day on how they can make a difference to the children and young people in our care, ensuring that we live our values and our proposition that 'children are the heart of everything we do'."