It’s important to acknowledge just how challenging the past 12 months have been as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated struggles that our Foster Carers and their families have faced as a result. Stockport Foster Carers Association would like to thank you for all of the great work you do and thank you for your continued commitment to improving the lives of children and young people in Stockport. The SFCA value your feedback and continue to represent your views.
VACCINE At the end of 2020 the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) issued guidance on how vaccinations should be prioritised to have the most impact, reduce hospitalisations and save lives. The JCVI guidance did not explicitly include Foster Carers in any of the Priority Groups, however it did advise that Local Authorities and NHS should prioritise Front Line Health and Social Care workers in order to protect the Health and Social Care systems.
Stockport falls under the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership. This means decisions regarding the vaccination programme are made in consultation/partnership with the other Local Authorities within the Greater Manchester area. As such the decision-making process was much more complex than you might usually expect.
The SFCA together with the support of Stockport Family Placement, met with local leaders and public health to present a compelling argument with supporting statistics as to why Foster Carers should be included in Stockport. As of 22nd February 2021 there were just 45 out of 342 Local Authorities in England that had included Foster Carers in one of the JCVI Priority Groups to be vaccinated. Our voices were heard and on 25th February 2021 all Stockport Foster Carers were formally invited forward for vaccination, a positive decision welcomed equally by all involved.
SFCA SURVEY In February we published an online Survey to capture feedback to help us review the last 12 months with the Directors. We wanted to hear your views on what went well and what improvements can be made for the future. Those that responded did so constructively and the feedback was largely positive. A number of meetings have taken place in the last 7 days to review the survey results together with Social Services and this has resulted in some areas to focus on improving, in order for our Foster Carers to feel more valued and supported.
COMMUNICATION One of the most prevalent topics from the Survey was how you are communicated with. There are many views on this subject, and because people consume information differently it can be a challenge to get communication 100% right all of the time. Jackie and Vaunda are working closely with the SFCA to review the communication strategy and explore different methods of keeping you informed including personalised emails, blogs, videos, updated website content and a newsletter. This will happen over a period of time and will be reviewed regularly moving forward.
180 FEEDBACK You asked for a mechanism to give 180 degree feedback on the professionals you work with. It has been agreed that the SFCA will design a way of capturing this feedback in written format around the same time as your annual review. This form will allow you to share what has gone well for you and what could be improved. It will be submitted directly to the Manager of your Supervising Social Worker.
TRAINING 83% of survey respondents felt they had access to the necessary skills & training in order to do their role, however there were great suggestions in how training can be improved. This will start with a review of the Training Booklet, with the aim of it being more informative & easier to digest.
PAY INCREASE We are delighted that the Fostering Allowances for the next financial year have been reviewed and a 2% uplift applied to Boarding Out, Expenses and Recompense from 1st April 2021. Whilst 2% may not seem enormous, many Local Authorities haven’t been able to offer this increase to their Foster Carers.
AGM & COMMITTEE MEMBER RECRUITMENT Stockport Foster Carers Association is a registered charity and exists with the sole purpose of helping & supporting Foster Families in the Stockport area. We are actively recruiting Committee Members to support our team ahead of our Annual General Meeting in May. If you feel like you have transferable skills, or are able to represent Foster Carers for Stockport and want to learn more please get in touch.
DISCOUNTS We have been busy behind the scenes collating a list of local (and national) businesses that offer discount to Foster Carers. Take a look here for more information.