UK Child Fostering Information Resource and
Directory of Local Authority Fostering Services
and Independent Fostering Providers.
Current figures for the number of children and young people who are currently in care vary depending upon where they are gathered from. However, our own research indicates that at this moment there are 15,000 children in care in Scotland, 5,600 children in care in Wales, and 69,000 children in care in England.
Across the UK, there has been, for several years, a persistent shortfall of around 10,000 foster homes. There are several reasons for this. Over time, the number of children and young people entering and leaving care can rise and fall. The number of foster carers successfully recruited and approved has never succeeded in replacing all those lost through retirement or due to other lifestyle changes. Economic conditions and Government policy also play a part.
My work with some 20 fostering agencies, both local authorities and independent fostering providers, around the country has shown me that there are significant differences in carer recruitment marketing knowhow. This directly influences an agency’s ability to attract and recruit new carers, too. So collectively, the way that we are attempting to resolve the perpetual shortage of foster carers results in, at best, maintenance of the current position, and at worst, an overall net loss.
There are some who believe it impossible to achieve a full quota of fostering households to meet the needs of all children in care. Whilst Duncan and I don’t share that view, the sector for the provision of children’s services is fluid, and undergoing significant change. So we do acknowledge that our mission is made within the context of often changing goalposts. That makes the challenge we have set ourselves tougher, but we remain undaunted. In fact, we both enjoy a tough challenge!
Child abuse is here to stay.
As the founder and director of Do Fostering, I suffered childhood abuse, and later grew up in children’s homes and foster homes. I went on to build a solid, multi award-winning marketing career over two decades within recruitment communications. This life and career experience drives my innate feeling that, ‘if I can’t make a dent in this shortfall of 10,000 foster carers, then who can?’.
I am motivated by a desire to use my early life experience for positive effect, and to make a difference for today’s, and tomorrow’s, children and young people, who need you to come forward and provide them with a loving, stable, consistent, home.
The sad fact is that child abuse will never end. So foster care should never end either, so this website that you are now reading was borne from a combination of our absolute refusal to accept that the challenge of recruiting such a large number of foster carers cannot be achieved, and driven by a great deal of first-hand feedback I have received over the past two years from followers of our Facebook page that pointed us to clearly toward a solution we could build to help take us all there.
Useful information for prospective foster carers.
Sharing with me your frustration about the sheer weight of information you feel you have to plough through and then mentally organise into some kind of shortlist that offers some sense of order is something I have heard over one hundred times. And, it is obvious why. The feedback is highly valid.
As such, and partly because answering your queries was becoming a full time job (!!), I took the idea for a standardised, comprehensive directory of all fostering agencies for discussion with my long-time associate, Duncan Bradford, who is the director of a leading Midlands-based digital agency.
The rest is history. A year later, here is the product of so much of our effort and your feedback. We can assure you that this brand new national directory of fostering agencies has been built from the ground up with your valuable insight productively used to simplify the way you, as prospective foster carers, gather relevant information about fostering to help you arrive at a well-considered and informed decision that has settled such questions as:
“Is fostering right for me and my household?”
“Is now the right time for us?”
“Who should I approach for an assessment?”
There is no part of this new online resource that has not been designed without you, the prospective foster carer, in mind. For your ongoing support, we would like to express deep gratitude to our loyal and engaged Facebook page following, now some 10,800+ strong, for all of your individual contributions that have so helpfully shaped this new website which has now come into being.
So, from myself, and from Duncan, our technical director, thank you to you all.
‘Sean came to our attention through his high-profile national work with fostering agencies. As an adult care leaver, in 1986 Sean was one among the first ever users of Childline, newly launched by Dame Esther Rantzen, DBE. We contacted Sean, and without hesitation, he came forward to support our vital work for today’s children that urgently need our help. Speaking alongside Esther, and HRH Sophie, Countess of Wessex, at a fundraising event in Buckingham Palace, Sean shared poignantly about his abusive early life experience, and the lifeline that Childline gave him when he was 12 years old.
Sean has continued to actively support Childline’s campaigning work, providing compelling case study material to endorse our national awareness-raising appeals. By opening up about his experience and the help he received from Childline, Sean will have helped to encourage young people in desperate need to reach out to Childline and disclose their own abuse. His openness and forthright support have been invaluable and truly inspiring. At Childline, and the NSPCC, we wish Sean every success in his work to raise the profile of fostering nationally, through his organisation, Do Fostering!’
Tara Smith, Case Studies Unit Manager
NSPCC Childline (2016)
‘One of our biggest challenges was to recruit foster carers, given intense competition between the London boroughs and independent agencies. Sean came on board to help, and was full of ideas and energy from the outset. As an outstanding communicator, with a high degree of emotional intelligence, he engaged with our young people, our foster carers, social workers, their managers, and senior managers across the whole council. He developed our campaign, which was highly successful. Sean’s contribution to the success of the service at that time was huge.’
Val Rogers, Head of Children Looked After Service
Wandsworth Council (2011)
‘A big thank you for your engagement in the Fostering Network’s England Advisory Committee. We appreciated your commitment and contribution to the Committee which is an important forum for the organisation, helping inform our policy and practice.’
Raina Sheridan, Deputy Chief Executive
The Fostering Network (2013)
‘Sean’s first strategic marketing assignment as director of the newly founded Do Fostering was with Nexus Fostering, which said: ‘It was time to freshen up our look, so in 2014 we hired Sean’s professional marketing expertise to conduct a review of our brand. The most obvious change can be seen by visiting our Facebook and Twitter accounts, and, of course, our new, modern logo. A year later, in awarding Nexus a second outstanding judgment, Ofsted said: ‘The recruitment and preparation of foster carers is robust and thorough’, and the new brand has certainly played a role in attracting our new carers. Additionally, Sean, we found you to be a fabulous advocate for listening to children and empowering them to speak out.’
Grace Wyatt, Founder & Managing Director
Nexus Fostering (2014)
‘Sean brings energy and commitment to his work, backed up with a breadth of marketing communications experience across the media, public and independent sectors. I have worked with Sean several times now on various projects aimed at building our membership base and raising awareness of issues affecting the sector for the provision of children’s services. He has delivered a number of highly informative training sessions to NAFP members, all of whom have fed back to me the insight and useful, practical tools they have learned from Sean. He’s open to new ideas and focused on delivering to his brief.’
Harvey Gallagher, Chief Executive
Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers (2015)
‘I had met Sean at the Department for Education some time back and his expertise and experience was clear in the great work he did for Wandsworth Council. Sean was top of my list of professionals to contact once I was in my new role because I wanted someone who could make an impact. Sean helped us develop our recruitment and social media strategies in a very tight timescale. He worked well with all members of the organisation and secured buy-in. As a result, we are already seeing positive benefits from our use of social media, with increased enquiries from prospective foster carers and our improved online presence. I’d recommend Sean to any organisation wanting expert marketing and branding assistance!’
Satwinder Sandhu, Director of Operations & Registered Manager
The Homefinding & Fostering Agency (2015)
‘Sean was able to achieve more in five hours than we had been able to do in five months. His approach to recruitment made us completely change our foster carer recruitment strategy and approach. I can’t praise his work enough. Thanks Sean.’
Richard Norwood, Business Development Director
Greater London Fostering (2016)
‘In May 2015 I came across the Do Fostering page on Facebook as I was looking for information about becoming a foster carer. Sean was the first person I contacted to discuss fostering. Receiving my Facebook message, Sean responded by asking if he could call me and we had a long chat. He helped me to understand the different types of fostering agency, and I made the decision to approach a nonprofit independent fostering agency. A year later, and I am now a fully approved foster carer with a placement! Sean has continued to support me and I feel he offers impartial advice and support in the best interest of the carer and child. Thank you!’
Pam Lorne, Foster Carer
TACT Fostering & Adoption (2015)
‘Chrysalis Care are pleased to highlight the work of Do Fostering, who demonstrate endless dedication to highlighting the needs of children and young people who are looked after and the foster carers who care for them.’