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What is respite fostering?

We come across so many people who would love to foster children and young people, but many raise concerns about not being able to foster full-time. This could be for many reasons, such as their career or lifestyle that may restrict them from providing full-time foster care.

What is great about fostering placements is that it is designed to meet the individual needs and specific requirements of both foster carers and the children in their care. There are many different types of foster care, meaning there are many options available for you to find the right ‘fit’. 

What is respite fostering care?

Alongside long-term, short-term and emergency placements, there is respite care. Respite care is largely a short-term placement ranging from a weekend, school holidays or sometimes a few weeks. The main aim of respite care is to provide support and stability to a child that is currently placed with a foster family. 

The reason for respite care is to allow the original foster family, foster child or birth parents a break to rest and recharge. Respite fostering may also be needed if it’s not capable for a child to be included in the foster family’s travel plans.

Is respite foster care for me?

As mentioned earlier you may be somebody who wants to foster, but your current circumstances may not allow you to foster full-time. You may also be new to the profession and be slightly nervous about fostering and would like to build up some experience before committing to a longer-term placement. These are situations where becoming a respite foster carer could be more suitable for you.

Although as an independent agency we understand the need for stability to further the long-term development of foster children, we also understand the importance of parents and carers having access to a support network that can improve the quality of care being provided. Respite foster care allows you to enrich the lives of children and young people on a short term basis.

How do I become a respite foster carer?

To become a respite foster carer, the same fostering requirements still apply – must have a spare bedroom, be over the age of 21 and have some financial stability.

If you’re interested in respite foster care, or any other type of fostering, it’s definitely time to start your life-changing journey as a foster carer. Get in touch with us for an informal chat to learn more. 

Ascent in the Community: SLUKSWA Charity

Having community is what brings people together and unites them, but most importantly, having community means that you always have a helping hand.

We believe that it is important to build community wherever you go and at Ascent we want to be rooted in community. One great thing about community is that it can extend far and wide and you are able to reach people further than your doorstep.

We want to share our community with you, and so have created the ‘Ascent in the Community’ blog series. The aim of the series is to showcase our community and the amazing things that they do. It will be a window into some of the fantastic people, charities, businesses and schemes that Ascent are lucky to be connected to.

To begin the series, we have the Sierra Leone UK Social Workers Association (SLUKSWA). This is an organisation that our social worker, Remi is a part of and we had the opportunity to support them with their first project last Christmas.


Donations from the wider community were distributed to children and families who live in one of the most impoverished and deprived areas of Sierra Leone, West Africa.  They had experienced flash flooding which caused the destruction of homes, loss of personal belongings and claimed lives. Bags of rice, along with the numerous toys, clothes, kitchenware, bedding and other items were received with great appreciation by a number of children and elders that had been hard hit by the flooding in the Kroo Bay area of Freetown, Sierra Leone.


The densely populated slum area of Kroo Bay is located at the bottom of a hilly part of Freetown and houses some of the poorest and most vulnerable members of Freetown’s society. We reached out to our network to collect donations and the response we received was overwhelming.

It was a pleasure to hear from SLUKSWA:

“On behalf of SLUKSWA, I wish to say a very big thank you for the donations received from yourselves. They were far greater than expected and no doubt will have provided some relief to those in receipt.  Once again, many thanks for your contribution to a worthy cause and for giving selflessly.“


If you would like to learn more about the Sierra Leone UK Social Workers Association or see how you can support them with their fantastic work. Please get in touch by emailing: secretary.slukswa@gmail.com.

To find out more about Ascent Fostering and becoming a foster carer with us, get in touch with our friendly team today.

Ascent 7th Birthday

Earlier this year we celebrated our 7th birthday! And although we had to adjust the way we celebrated due to our current circumstances we still made sure that the whole Ascent family was still able to mark this milestone.

Ascent first launched in April 2013, founded by Mark Pomell and Mark Hobbs with the goal for Ascent Fostering Agency to be the leading therapeutic fostering agency in London in-terms of the quality of support, care and outcomes for the young people we look after. To offer foster carers the opportunity to be part of a genuine team, that is committed to learning and developing our skills together.

Over the last 7 years, we have reached some major milestones; receiving fantastic Ofsted reports, winning several awards, seeing our team grow and expand, working with outstanding foster carers, and seeing how our carers have impacted the lives of so many children and young people.

We would have never thought that at the beginning of this journey we would be where we are now and have so many people to thank for helping us get here.

Since 2013 we have;

  • Increased our team of staff from 3 to 11.
  • Held over 500 training sessions.
  • Looked after 158 children and young people.
  • We began with 4 carers and now have over 30.
  • Been a finalist in the Investors in People Gold – Award of the Year for Small Companies in the UK 2018.
  • Awarded an Investors in People in 2015.
  • 3 Ofsted inspections
  • Received the award for Resilience and Placement Stability to Children from Wandsworth Local Authority.

Check out the special video we created especially for our birthday.

We can’t wait to see what the next 7 years hold, cheers to many more!

Love Ascent

To find out more about fostering with us, get in touch with one of our friendly team today. 

Hypothesis of Needs

Our resident Therapeutic Child Care Consultant, Trudy Darien has over 20 years’ experience as a therapeutic practitioner. She founded the Introduction to Therapeutic Childcare course in 2005, that has now been accredited by APPCIOS (The Association for Psychodynamic Practice and Counselling in Organisational Settings)

The 4-day course is both theoretical and experiential. The aim of the course is to develop an understanding of child development and the impact of early life trauma. To equip us with techniques to support children and young people and to redress their unmet needs. 

Additionally, Trudy has developed the ‘Hypothesis of Need model’ as a technique to further assist with the understanding of why the knowledge of each child’s backstory is an essential tool to recovery. 

She had worked with several local authorities, residential homes, and foster agencies where the approach focused on behaviour modification, resulting in a lack of understanding of the child’s unmet needs.

In these organisations children’s behaviour was often misinterpreted and they were labeled as having behavioral problems. These children often had numerous placement and school breakdowns that further perpetuated the cycle of neglect.

This prompted her to devise a series of groundbreaking courses which evidenced the significant benefits when applying therapeutic techniques.

Trudy has delivered her training courses to social work teams, care homes, schools and foster agencies which have achieved remarkable outcomes in both the children and those who work with them. 

Trudy now works as a consultant and delivers her training and therapeutic model to a wider audience. Her long term aim is for this course to be nationally recognised as a model for working with children and young people who have experienced early life trauma 

If you would like Trudy to deliver some training or want to find out more about Therapeutic Childcare, please get in touch.

info@trudydarien.com  

If you are thinking about fostering, please get in touch today to chat to our friendly team.

What’s been going on at Ascent Fostering

It may seem like we’ve been very quiet over the last few months, but that’s because we’ve had a lot going on behind the scenes.

So we thought we would use this blog to share all that’s been going on at Ascent over the last few months. 

Brand new look!

You may have noticed that we have had a bit of a makeover recently. We think change is a good thing and after 6 years we thought why not!

Our brand new logo and colourways were designed by Jelani Pomell our resident guru for all things design and creative. This was complemented by some new imagery that we have used for our new marketing collateral.

Wandsworth Council Award

We were absolutely thrilled to receive the Wandsworth Council award for ‘Resilience and Placement Stability’. This is another testament to our fantastic team and all of their hard work! This award means a lot to Ascent because we focus on working with children and young people with difficult backgrounds and complex needs and it’s great that our team and carers have been recognised for this.

Come Dine with Ascent

If you follow us on Twitter and Facebook, you would have seen that the Ascent team have been cooking it up in the kitchen. Every fortnight a member of the team cooks up something special for the team to sample. So far we’ve had a Lebanese feast, apple and blackberry crumble with custard, Jerk chicken with special rice and coleslaw, Ice Cream and Sorbet, Banana cake

Come Dine with Ascent has unearthed some secret Nigella’s and Jamie Oliviers , stay tuned to find out what’s next on the menu.

Carer of the Month

In November we celebrated Nikki Best for unconditionally accepting the emotional needs of her young person. She has been a strong advocate for her young person which has led to a greater understanding and communication at school. She also wholeheartedly embraces the therapeutic training and implements what she has learnt with her young person.

Thank you Nicky! We really appreciate you

Carer of the month celebrates and recognises a carer/s who have gone above and beyond to be the best foster carer. We understand that being a foster carer is not the easiest job and when we see a carer exceeding their role we think that it’s important to honour them and give them the spotlight.

Carer’s Day Out

Our foster carers mean a lot to us, without them we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. It’s important for us to show them how much we appreciate them.

So we took the Ascent Lads on a go-karting trip followed by a spot of lunch. It was definitely a nail biting race (eat your hearts out Formula One). The final winners were:

1st place – Kevin

2nd place – Mark H

3rd place – James

There’s nothing like some healthy competition for some team bonding.

Of course we couldn’t forget our wonderful Ascent ladies who enjoyed the latest musical production ‘&Juliet’, a spin on the Shakespearean classic ‘Romeo & Juliet’ It was a great time for all the ladies to catch up, spend some time together and take some well deserved time off.

Nurturing. Attachment Training 

Over the past 18 months the Ascent team has undertaken Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP) Level 1 & 2 training. An element of this training is Nurturing Attachment which is a group work program to provide support and guidance to foster carers of children who have experienced trauma and attachment difficulties.

Sita and Nicky delivered the first of the Nurturing Attachment training to a number of our carers and received glowing reviews. The underpinning theme for our carers to take on board is PACE –  Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy.

Below are some comments from our evaluation feedback – Well done Sita and Nicky.

“The Course exceeded my expectations, very informative, catered for all learning styles”

“The PACE model in all its aspects is a very useful tool and I will continue to use it in my work with the children”

The Ascent Team is growing!

This year we welcomed Nicky Challen-Probert as our latest Supervising Social Worker, Nicky has got stuck straight in becoming an extremely valuable member of our team.

Also we can’t forget to give a shoutout to our new interns Maria Tinawi and Stefan Bubu from  Middlesex University who are doing 100 and 70 day placements. Maria and Stefan have been a great help to the team undertaking a number of tasks.

We are delighted that Margaret, William and Natasha  have joined the team as Foster Carers, they have been amazing and are great additions to the team.

This month we also welcomed back Laura Martin, who is returning to her role as Supervising Social worker after maternity leave and we are so happy to have her back.

As we begin 2020 it’s great to look back over 2019 and see everything that we’ve accomplished. This year is Ascent’s 7th birthday (can you believe it!). We cannot wait to see what’s in store. We have to take this moment to thank our fantastic team, every year they go above and beyond to make Ascent the agency that it is today and 2020 won’t be any different!

Ascent Fostering asks: Is there room in your heart for one more?

Fostering Agency South London - Ascent Fostering Agency

Our latest campaign asks the question ‘Is there room in your heart for one more?’ Fostering is so much more than taking a child into your home and providing them with the basic essentials. It can be a fulfilling journey for both you and the young person you look after. Fair enough, it doesn’t come without its challenges emotionally, mentally and physically but there’s a reason why many foster carers foster for decades.

Most of the time when we ask people to step forward to become foster carers, the focus is predominantly on the benefits for the young person and how it will change their life. Though in this partnership more than one life will be changed. There are countless reasons people may have that stop them taking that step to become a foster carer.  It can be a daunting experience stepping into the unknown, people have thoughts such as, ‘It could tear my family apart’, ‘Will I be a good foster carer?’, ‘It will be too much hard work’, ‘I won’t have a life’, ‘I don’t have enough experience’. Martin Luther King once said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step” and with fostering there couldn’t be a phrase more fitting. 

We can’t exactly tell you what fostering journey you’ll have, some days will be easy, some days will be hard, some days you’ll just want to give up and some days you’ll feel like you have the best job in the world. Something we can almost guarantee is that it will change you as a person and mostly for the better. If you speak to any foster carer they will tell you that through the challenges, and ups and downs, seeing a child who has not had the best start in life, open up their lives to you and begin to trust you is a feeling like no other.

Children and young people are such an important part of our society and we need amazing people with huge hearts to help nurture and build the next generation. Your life will be so greatly enriched and you’ll be able to see how you played such a huge role in transforming a young person’s life.

Fostering: Do you have room in your heart for one more?

Contact us now to chat to our team and find out if you are ready to start your fostering journey.

Tips for Carers: Exam Season

Tips for Carers Exam Season - Ascent Fostering Agency

Exams – who doesn’t remember the nervous wait outside the gym hall, queuing up recounting a the last minute revision session on the bus that morning, clutching your pens and pencils ready sharpened and trying to ignore the nervous feeling in your stomach?

Exams are a pressured and anxious time for most of us, so Ascent is asking how we can best support our young people through one of the most pressured times of their academic lives? Here are some tips for our foster carer family. 

Tips for Carers: Don’t sweat the small stuff!

Consider the period before and during exams as an amnesty on issues that would typically cause some friction. Bedrooms may be slightly messier and chores may slack slightly. But this is okay.

By easing off some of the household duties during exam time, you’ll be giving your child more time and space to focus on exam revision. Once exams are out of the way, the temporary suspension can be lifted and things can go straight back to normal. After all, they will have all the summer holidays to make up for it!

Get involved

Let’s be honest, revision is not the most exciting activity and can actually be quite isolating. So why not help make it more interactive and fun. Test your child on their exam content by doing quiz games. You can be the quizmaster and they can be the contestant and you can follow the format of some popular quiz games on TV.

Why not switch roles too and you take the role as contestant, this can also help your child learn as they prompt you on the answers you may not know or by hearing the answers repeated again.

Know your child’s entire exam schedule

Pin a copy of the examination timetable on the kitchen notice board. You should also note the date and time of each paper. Make sure you are at all times aware when your child has to be in the examination centre.

Diet

Diet is extremely important during the exam season. The right food and drink can energise your system, improve your alertness and sustain you through long exam hours. On the other hand, the wrong dietary choices can make you feel sluggish and jittery. So making sure your child is eating regularly, healthily and drinking lots of water is very important. 

Take a break

We’ve all heard the saying ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. It’s important that your child or young person is taking breaks throughout studying. Not only does it allow them to refresh and charge up, but it helps them to feel relaxed through studying and gives them something to look forward to, to motivate them through studying.

Don’t overhype the importance of any examination

Make it clear to the children in your care that your love and regard for them is in no way dependent on how they perform in exams. This affirmation is the best gift you can give them.

For more information about becoming a foster carer with Ascent contact us today.

Tips for Carers: How to keep a young person safe online

Keeping YP safe online - Tips for Carers - Ascent Fostering Agency

In our latest Tips for Carers blog we take a look at internet safety.

The internet can be an amazing resource that enables children and young people to learn, connect, communicate and express creativity in a number of different ways and on a range of devices.

However, the internet is an ever-changing space and being able to keep up to date with online developments can prove challenging. The internet can be beneficial in so many ways, there are numerous dangers that children and young people need to be aware of. The following tips should help children and young people use the internet safely.

Tips for Carers: Online Safety

  1. Maintaining an open dialogue – encourage your young person to talk to you about their experiences online i.e. who they follow, what they have seen today, what they have posted. Making them feel comfortable talking to you about their online experience means they are more likely to inform you if they see anything alarming
  2. Explain all the dangers – by informing your young person of all the dangers on the internet, they have all the information and are aware of what to look out for.
  3. Monitor usage – apps such as AntiSocial and Freedom are great for setting time restrictions on particular websites to ensure your young person doesn’t spend hours on social media, gaming websites etc.
  4. Use nicknames – encourage use of nicknames instead of full names where possible (to protect personal information).
  5. Tackling Cyber bullying – make sure your child knows who to go to for help if they experience bullying online. If they are experiencing bullying, it may be good to get them to take time out from the internet and engage in other activities such as (reading, playing sport, watching a film etc).
  6. Don’t bury your head – Keep up-to date with the latest apps such Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Periscope, Musical.ly, Twitter and Houseparty

At Ascent Fostering we are a big family. Become part of our foster carer family today, contact us to find out more.

Child Sexual Exploitation

Safeguarding for Foster Carers - Ascent Fostering Agency

“Child sexual exploitation (CSE)  is a hidden crime . . .people don’t want to talk about it”, says Kendra Houseman the founder of Out the Shadows, a training and consultancy service that provides support on understanding gangs and child sexual exploitation.

Most child sexual exploitation remains hidden. Never reported or even uncovered by an official agency which makes the lines of CSE even more blurred. CSE is a very complex subject and presents itself in many forms which can make it hard for parents, guardians and carers to spot when it is taking place.

Police have warned of the existence of several different “models” of grooming, including online, through personal relationships and using drink and drugs.

Child sexual exploitation can be carried out by adults or other young people   It often involves the young person being offered drugs, alcohol, money, gifts, cigarettes, mobile phones or supposed affection in return for engaging in sexual activity. CSE doesn’t neatly fit into the category of rape or prostitution, many of the sexual exchanges are consensual. But it’s undoubtedly clear that the young people involved are clearly being taken advantage of; due to their vulnerability or an imbalance in power. 

Kendra Houseman also states that there are even deeper issues surrounding the sexual exploitation of young people. “What’s more under-reported than CSE, is the huge percentage of boys being sexually exploited by gangs,” stating “there’s the sexual exploitation of boys, gangs embarrassing boys, lending out boys to other people to prove dominance.”

These startling findings and reports show the importance of educating young people and carers. So what should you do if you feel your young person is being sexually exploited. Here are some tips along with some preventative measures:

Talk – as your young person reaches their adolescent years it’s important to keep the channels of communication open. Talk about the issue! Try to build a relationship where you have open lines of communication where you able to discuss any topics or issues openly and comfortably.

Family time – as children get older and more independent time spent with family becomes rarer. Encouraging activities and family time means that your young person is within a positive and loving environment surrounded by people who care about them.

Seek professional help/advice – it can be overwhelming news to hear that your child is being exploited and most times it is an area that you have no idea about. Seeking professional support means that the situation can be handled in the best way possible.

Show support – let your young person know that they are not to blame and ensure that they know you are on their side.

We support all our foster carers and children throughout their fostering journey. Get in touch today to find out more.

Ascent Fostering’s new campaign: Teenagers are Fun

Fostering Teenagers - Ascent Fostering Agency South London

Teenagers tend to get a bad rep in the media. We often see reports of teenagers failing at school, wrapped up in the world of social media or displaying anti-social behaviour. These labels tend to stick more to young people who are from a care background, contributing to the narrative that teenagers present more difficulty when fostering.

Our campaign at the end of last year, ‘Teenagers are Fun’ aims to open up mindsets and position young people in a new light. By putting the spotlight on teenagers we hope to encourage prospective foster carers and also current carers to see how fostering a teenager can actually be a wonderful experience.

Here at Ascent Fostering, since we began in 2013 we have always worked with teenagers and have witnessed many of them blossom with their foster families. So, why do we think fostering teenagers is fun?:

    1. LEARN – when you foster a teenager you both can learn so much from each other. So many of our foster carers tell us that after fostering a teenager they learnt so much. Whether it’s learning the latest trends, newest colloquials or knowing who the ‘next best thing since sliced bread is’ having a teenager means you are always learning something new. However, most importantly it’s what a teenager can teach you about yourself in the process. Each day uncovering something new.
    2. QUALITY TIME – an advantage of fostering a teenager is that there are so many activities that you can do together. From go-karting, indoor rock climbing, bowling, cooking classes, the list just goes on. Quality time is an important factor when building a relationship, especially outside the home. There are so many benefits such as ‘building self-esteem, strengthening bonds, develops positive behaviours, improves communication and help academic performance’ (ParentingNI – The Importance of Spending Time Together
    3. REWARDING – fostering teenagers is extremely rewarding as you can often see the changes really clearly. You’re teaching life skills such as budgeting and helping them plan for the future. When you support them to move onto independent living and see them doing well, you have a great sense of pride

Here are some of what our carers have to say about fostering teenagers:

“They keep me young and engaged”

“My young person shows me his latest dance moves – hilarious”

“I love shopping with my young person, she has me trying on things I would have never thought would look good”

“I get to hear the latest  chat-up lines”

“We try to play a board game after dinner on a Sunday, this always ends up with us laughing at the most ridiculous things”

“I never thought taking selfies could be such fun , lots of filters lots of laughs”

We are always seeking loving, stable homes for teenagers who may have experienced a tricky headstart to life. If you live in South London and have a spare room, we would love to hear from you. In return you’ll receive in-depth training, ongoing support and witness the positive change you can make in a young person’s life.

Contact us today here at Ascent Fostering! You can call on 0203 757 0070 or email us at hello@ascentfostering.com 

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