Finding enough foster carers is a real challenge for UK fostering agencies, yet Pathway Care, one of the nation’s leading independent agencies, continues to grow despite the countrywide shortage. Latest statistics from the Fostering Network estimates a short-fall of some 10,000 foster carers in the UK. So how do we at Pathway do it? By harnessing innovative practices to keep and attract the best foster carers and families.
Innovation is a word that is often bandied about, but Pathway Care’s length of service plus the number of carers we have and the number of children we help throughout Britain is testament to the fact that our forward-thinking approach is working.
Founded in 1996, the Pathway Care Group has a national presence throughout the UK with offices in the South West of England, West and South East Wales, the Midlands and East England. Pathway currently provides care for over 550 children, and we firmly believe in providing children with a better path, or at least the stepping stones, towards a brighter future. Keeping and attracting quality foster carers is central to this vision.
Our approach to foster carers is such that our 350 professional carers feel fully supported by 65 full-time qualified supervising social workers, working across our network of five regional offices. All Pathway Care foster carers are given access to highly trained and experienced social workers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Where additional support is needed, foster carers can call upon our team of specialists, offering services such as support for children with disabilities and complex needs, or tailored help specific to children with complex and challenging behavior.
We at Pathway also pride ourselves on the high level of training given to our foster carers, which helps to ensure fostered children develop through living in a family environment. In fact, Ofsted recently awarded our South West region outstanding in this field. Inspectors also praised the effectiveness of our innovative parent and child placement scheme, whereby foster carers not only look after a foster child but also the foster child’s parents. The Ofsted report further commended the Agency’s out-of-hours support services for foster carers and our commitment to developing foster children’s health, educational and emotional needs.
Pathway Care appreciates the work of our foster carers , and in turn they value our attitude towards them, which is why we often find we recruit new foster carers through existing ones. In 2006, we launched the Tough Enough to Care campaign, which highlighted examples of male foster carers throughout the UK to encourage other men to consider fostering as a viable career choice. The campaign was a resounding PR success, and helped increase the number of male foster carers recruited by Pathway across several regions.
Pathway Care have also more recently utilised the power of our network of carers in an exciting new business card scheme. Foster carers are given a selection of business cards that they can hand out to friends and family who may be interested in learning more about fostering, with details of a Pathway Care contact. The scheme was launched a few weeks ago, and we are confident that this novel approach will again further drive word-of-mouth interest in fostering through Pathway.
At Pathway Care we firmly believe in providing young people with the chance to become part of a family, whether for a long or short period of time. Our foster carers provide children with the necessary stability to take the next step towards building a more secure future and achieving their full potential. It is in Pathway Care and the nation’s interest to ensure that we help foster carers as much as we can through innovative practices to achieve these bold aims.
Conor Rooney is Marketing Manager of Pathway Care.