We are a leading independent fostering agency, part of National Fostering Group, serving the South West – from Gloucester to Cornwall, including the centre of Bristol, Weston, Somerset, Exeter, Plymouth and the M5 corridor. We currently work with over 80 foster carers for more than 100 children and 12 parent and child placements.
As a growing, progressive agency, we are dedicated to providing excellence. Children all across these regions are in need of a fostering family to help them feel safe and supported. The volume and diversity of children in need of a foster family means we have more opportunities to place a child (or children) with you, whilst you and your family’s situation are also at the forefront of our mind.
As a growing, progressive agency, we are dedicated to providing excellence. Our most recent Ofsted inspection saw us rated as GOOD in all areas with OUTSTANDING ELEMENTS in the South West. We are LILAC certified, in honour of our high quality standards.
Working closely with local authorities, we secure appropriate foster homes for children who are in need. We work closely with carers too. By supporting our inspiring foster families, we support our young people to meet their potential, fulfil their goals and make their way in the world.
“We are particularly good at matching children to foster families but to do this you have to know your carers really well. This starts with the referral hub. Toni, alongside her colleagues, knows all our carers individually and knows who does and doesn’t have a placement.
Janet Delaney, Registered Manager
People from all walks of life can become a carer. You can help to inspire a generation of vulnerable children and young people to find their way in the world. You can help us build an incredible future for them. If you’re interested in becoming a foster carer with Pathway Care, please get in touch with us today.
Pathway Care seeks to provide young people with a safe and supportive home environment they need to thrive, and find the right inspiring role models – foster carers like you – who will make a difference.
Our brilliant foster carers are supported by an outstanding professional team. Together, they provide the highest quality of care to vulnerable children and young people, who are the heart of everything we do.
Central to our approach is ongoing training, delivered locally, which will help you make the most of your fostering adventure. We also provide a network of professionals who are available round-the-clock, for practical support when you need it.
Our foster carers can claim a wide range of perks and benefits, like free membership to The Fostering Network, Max Cards,high street discounts, invitations to family activities and events, and much more.
Pathway Care was established in 1996. In 2017 whilst retaining its own registration, we were acquired by the National Foster group. We have remained a relatively small agency, with a high proportion of long-term foster carers, children and staff. There is a strong family feel and a high level of loyalty between staff and foster carers.
The benefit of remaining small is that we can provide a highly personalised service. All foster carers are known to the staff by name and have direct access to the registered manager, who they can contact at any time if there is an issue. She attends events throughout the year so she is a familiar face to foster families.
Foster carers and children are encouraged to speak to us at the earliest opportunity if they have any concerns so that issues can be dealt with before they become more significant problems.
Pathway Care, as part of National Fostering Group, is also able to benefit from some great opportunities that come from being bigger, like access to the British Explorers, training staff to facilitate young people completing their Duke of Edinburgh award, access online education, and access and support for apprenticeship.
Parent and child fostering is about supporting families to be best the parents they can be to their children. Parent and child foster carers work with mums, dads, mums and dads together, and even grandparents, to help them learn how to care for their children. Placements last between six and 26 weeks but 12-26 weeks is the most common duration.
Parent and child foster carers support parents to provide good quality care for their children by teaching them new skills and empowering them to practice these skills in a safe and supportive environment. It builds better futures for children and parents.
This type of fostering can be 24/7 so it requires a very particular type of foster carer. Rather than acting in the role of parent as you would do in normal fostering, you are actually working to support and enable the parent, which may require different skills. It can be challenging for foster carers to witness people parenting in a very different way to their own style of parenting. However, alongside big challenges, parent and child fostering comes with huge potential rewards. With skilful care, support and encouragement, parents can learn how to take care of their children, and both the child and the parent can start to thrive.
Ideally, parent and child foster carers will be fostering already. They may have experience of dealing with adults or children through their work. As a minimum requirement, to offer parent and child fostering you must have a good-sized spare room and a living area that you are willing to share.
At Pathway Care we have our own dedicated Parent and Child Fostering Co-ordinator whose role is to oversee the service, resolve any issues and provide support to develop and improve parent and child fostering. We have one of the largest parent and child fostering services in the entire National Fostering Group and we are a beacon site for the group. We are also working with the Coram BAAF to develop its nationwide parent and child guidance.
Alongside consistent and individualised support from managers and social workers, our foster carers benefit from locally-run support groups.
We are particularly keen to encourage the development of specialist support groups and a male member of the team recently set up a group for male foster carers in Devon. This group recognises that male foster carers have different experiences to women and explore a range of issues including society’s attitudes to male carers.
Participants are encouraged to discuss anything that concerns them and forge links with other men who foster. It also organises activities and days out and is just one of many locally-based support groups for foster carers.
Going the extra mile is business as usual within Pathway Care, which sets out to provide high levels of support from the very start of the assessment process. The carer recruitment officer keeps in touch with applicants throughout the process and is able to flag up any possible issues before they can become a problem (such as the couple who were getting married in the middle of their assessment).
“Staff in the agency know all of the foster carers individually. We discuss possible matches and look at any extra support we could provide to make it the best possible match. We take things slowly – it’s better to get a really good match than to rush into things. We look at all the angles and, if we need to, we go back to the local authority and ask more questions. It’s why we have so many stable placements.”
Janet Delaney, Registered Manager
If there is the risk of a placement breakdown, the whole team comes together to talk about how to support the carers to stabilise things – including finding respite or family support – or if this is not possible, we seek an alternative placement.
A group of our young people participated in British Explorers last year and our family outreach worker accompanied them on the train to Scotland and saw them onto the plane. This ensured their trip of a lifetime wasn’t marred by worrying about having to catch the right train and they could arrive feeling confident and relaxed.
The agency is proud of its children and young people and recognises all kinds of achievement, from the children who get a place at university to the child with complex health needs who learned to put words together to make a sentence.
“Mention 90 children to me and I can give you 90 examples of how proud I feel.”
Janet Delaney, Registered Manager
Pathway Care describes itself as ‘a learning organisation’, in terms of the training provided to foster carers and the support to staff, the placements offered to students, and the commitment to learning from our mistakes.
We organise bimonthly reflective sessions for staff and welcome any opportunity to learn and grow. We invite feedback from foster carers and staff and hold four carer liaison meetings a year, which provide an opportunity for carers to discuss any issues that are affecting them. Any carers who leave us are invited to an exit interview and encouraged to share their experiences honestly so we can address any issues that arise.
Achieving the best possible outcomes for children is always our priority, over and above business considerations. If a child needs to move on to independence or another organisation that will suit their needs better, we advocate for that.
We believe that being part of the National Fostering Group enables us to share good practice and ‘steal the best ideas so we’re not missing a trick for the children’. We include birth children in this, as well as looked after children.