Jay Fostering is a small to medium-sized agency that is well-established in the Leicestershire area. It has a skilled staff team, many of whom have been with the agency for a long time. This stability means that foster carers get to know the people who are supporting them and can pick up the phone and chat to someone who knows their family situation well. Feedback shows that this really matters to carers.
We’re quite selective in the foster carers we recruit because we’re looking for people of a high calibre who can make the biggest difference to children and young people. We want to enable children and young people to achieve the best possible outcomes. Some of them have complex needs so we’re looking for resilient and skilled foster carers to help us do that. It’s important that we get the matching right and that we empower foster carers with the right skills and support so they know they can do it.
Helen Dickens, Registered Manager
The agency is keen to engage with foster carers and children and hear their feedback. It holds regular Meet The Team events, as well as hosting carer forums, consultations and support groups. There is a very active birth children’s group and children’s council, which has helped the agency to put together a brochure, as well as assisting in the development of consultation documents to make them more age-appropriate and advising on the improvement of welcome packs for young people. There is a very active programme of activities including a Star of the Month award for children, which rewards achievements big and small.
High levels of support are vital to enable foster carers to care for vulnerable children. Jay offers 24/7 bespoke support as well as peer support via its Helping Hands service. This confidential service allows carers to talk directly to other foster carers either face-to-face or over the phone. It enables foster carers to ask questions they may not wish to discuss with the agency and can sometimes help to prevent placement breakdowns. Alongside this, the agency provides comprehensive training and support, sometimes bringing in external agencies to deliver specialist training sessions.
The agency has developed a heritage panel which looks at ways to support children placed within a different cultural environment to retain their individual cultural identity. It includes a team manager and foster carer as well as social workers and community groups.
Foster carers are also encouraged to join Health and Education panels which consider the health of looked after children and what can be done to support their education when compared with the national picture.
Jay works hard to create a family feel and a sense of belonging. It believes that small things make a difference and foster carers receive handwritten thank you letters or a video on their birthday from the staff. Cards sometimes feature photos of members of staff and their children to show that they have families too. This personal touch is something that carers really value.
Jay appreciates being part of the National Fostering Group because it not only provides a strong group structure, training and resources, but also because it encourages the spread of best practice. The agency has been inspired to create a new Parent and Child Service as a result of hearing about the experience of others within the group.