Fostering Solutions North West works with more than 290 foster carers and over 390 foster children across the whole of the North West, from Cumbria down to the Staffordshire borders including Lancashire, Manchester, Cheshire East and West, St. Helens, Halton, Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley, The Wirral and The Welsh Borders.
We are a large agency that has been established for more than 20 years. We have a stable staff team and many of our foster carers have been with the agency for 15 years or longer. Keeping children safe is paramount and we do this by providing stable and secure homes and supporting young people to achieve whatever they are capable of.
In our last Ofsted inspection we rated Outstanding with no recommendations, which is pretty much unheard of so we’re very proud.
We’re judged on our outcomes for children, our safeguarding capabilities, the way we work with our children and foster families, the way we manage the agency, our financial liabilities, our training, our panels and especially the quality of care we provide to children.
Fostering Solutions North West is well-established and highly respected by stakeholders and local authorities alike. Children are at the heart of everything we do and our managers and staff are always accessible to foster carers.
Cheryl Harris, Registered Manager
Support for foster carers begins as soon as an enquiry is received. Our carer recruitment officers maintain contact and complete initial home visits.
During the assessment, stage applicants are allocated a ‘buddy’, who is an experienced foster carer, to guide them through the process. Once approved, our Helping Hands peer support services helps guide and nurture them as they find their feet.
All staff, from social workers to the registered manager, are accessible to foster carers if they require support and we take a whole-family approach. This means our services incorporate the entire fostering family, including birth children, grandparents and extended family members. If foster carers are struggling, additional support can be provided from the Therapeutic and Practical Support Service.
We’re proud of the way our staff go the extra mile to support foster carers and each other whenever it is needed. During Covid, for example, everyone went above and beyond to keep services running and to help one another.
We’re keen to embrace and nurture differences of all kinds – including opinions, abilities, skills, ethnicities and backgrounds. If certain staff are passionate about an issue, they are encouraged to become a champion of that particular service within the agency.
Our culture is open and accountable. If someone makes a mistake, we hold our hands up, reflect on what happened, and learn from it, both formally and informally.
Being part of National Fostering Group provides access to huge amounts of expertise as well as the sharing of ideas, support services and best practice models.
It’s crucial that foster children are well matched with the right fostering families. To achieve this, our referrals team get to know foster carers very well so they understand their knowledge, skills and family situation. This helps them to confidently assess and identify which children would fit into their household.
They then work closely with local authorities to make the best possible matches. This relationship is maintained throughout the family’s fostering journey so, if there are any changes, we can respond appropriately.
We provide comprehensive face to face training to foster carers on many topics – all free. If there is a need for specialist training that National Fostering Group doesn’t provide, we’re happy to look into funding external training.
Helping Hands is a confidential support service created by foster carers for foster carers to answer questions, provide support and offer guidance. It aims to build the confidence and resilience of foster carers and offer reassurance and practical advice
Who can benefit from Helping Hands?
All kinds of foster carers can benefit from Helping Hands support, including:
• New or inexperienced foster carers
• Foster carers who feel isolated or who lack a good support network
• Foster carers who are coping with young people with challenging behaviours
• Foster carers who may be in crisis or close to placement breakdown
• Foster carers who simply need someone to listen and understand
“Helping Hands was a lifeline to us both when a very complex little girl was placed with us. We were dealing with behaviour we had never come across before and were unsure how to react to certain situations. She is still with us after nearly three years.” Foster Carer
We have excellent placement stability, which we achieve by focusing on solutions to any problems that arise. Our philosophy is “we don’t give up”.
Recently, for example, our team stopped a child in placement from breaking down by providing therapeutic support for the child, along with peer support and daytime respite for the foster carer for a much-needed break.
Bridge to Foster is a service provided alongside local authorities to help young people transition from residential care into fostering. Planned introductions take place while the young person is still in the residential setting to help them integrate more easily into a family environment.
We provide a wrap-around support service to each child and foster carer, including therapeutic support, identified support worker, as well as peer group support.
“Staff at all levels of the organisation are extremely child centred and highly committed to achieving excellent outcomes for children. They know their foster carers and children well. They also take pride in children’s progress and achievements.”