NFA Wales covers the whole of Wales, predominantly South and Mid Wales around Cardiff and Swansea. We have a strong Welsh identity, with Welsh-speaking supervising social workers and foster carers and a practice manager with Welsh as her first language. We currently work with more than 240 foster carers and 290 children.
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Springmeadow Road, Springmeadow Business Park
Our agency covers one of the largest regions within the National Fostering Group. Working with foster carer placements across Wales can be challenging because parts of the North and West are very rural and infrastructure is not always good.
However, with a high level of support and a responsive approach from people who understand, we overcome these challenges and have an excellent retention rate. Our support groups and supervising social workers are very active in every part of the country.
Two years ago, we came up with the idea of Foster Carer Ambassadors. This is a core cohort of very experienced foster carers who use their experience and expertise to do the initial visits and recruiting of prospective foster carers. They also mentor and buddy up with less experienced carers.
Our ambassadors are a great source of improvement ideas and often email me with ideas. One recently suggested a support group for single foster carers, for example, and we will be starting this very soon.
Kim Perkins, Registered Manager
Despite size and geographical challenges, we are proud of the high level of support given to foster carers. Standard weekly calls and monthly visits increase in frequency if the foster carer is experiencing problems and there is someone available on the phone 24/7 to offer help and advice.
Local support groups are run by supervising social workers; some of them are specialist support groups, including one for unaccompanied asylum seekers. Foster Care Ambassadors fulfil a valuable mentoring and buddying role to less experienced carers. This all helps to create a family feel – which is normally only found in smaller agencies.
Wales was the first region in the National Fostering Group to create an annual foster carers conference, which has become a hugely popular and well-attended event. The most recent one, on the theme of Therapeutic Parenting, achieved universally positive feedback.
The conference is one of a whole series of engagement events for foster carers and children. We work hard to build personal relationships with carers, including sending flowers when things are tough and hand-written thank you cards, as well as taking carers out for lunch. It is part of our commitment to really look after and appreciate our foster carers.
Our approach means we have good retention levels for foster carers, some of whom have been with the National Fostering Agency Wales for 10-15 years. We also achieve good placement stability, which means better outcomes for children. We pride ourselves on our open learning and communication culture.
Despite our best endeavours, problems sometimes do arise. Foster carers can take their concerns directly to anyone within the organisation and they are always listened to, along with the children. We are responsive and aim to resolve any issues quickly and informally if possible.
We are constantly seeking ways to do things better for children and carers. The better we can support our foster carers, the better they can support children.