Running an outstanding fostering agency in South London has its rewards and challenges not least in the environment of children’s social care. We know there are tremendous social pressures within the wider community which leads to children coming into care. The local authorities are under huge pressure to ensure children remain safe in their families in a world where they have less money to spend. As a provider of outstanding services our responsibility is to ensure we offer quality, and value for money for our customers.

So, from my view point I like to think about five major areas:

  • The delivery of therapeutic care to children
  • Foster carer development
  • Quality of support
  • How we support our staff team and recruitment.

Of course, there are other equally important things we deal with day- to-day but these areas encapsulate the issues I think about from my perspective.

The delivery of therapeutic care to children and young people

This really centres on having good information, from our LA partners which enables us to understand the needs of children and young people in a wholistic way and they are well matched. We do our own assessment to unpick the presenting needs, to explore how we will deliver the care plan in a foster home. This is ensuring children feel safe and well supported in their new foster home.

Foster carer development

How a foster carer develops their skills is essential to caring for looked after children well. To intentionally parent children you need to be curious and understand their trauma and how this will impact your household. Foster carers need to reflect on parenting by using training and the support networks around them well. This includes their supervising social worker, therapeutic consultant, and mentors. We also know you do not become a therapeutic foster carer overnight, so it is a journey of learning with support.

Quality of Support

Given we are a south London fostering agency, Ascent actively uses the community and local resources to support our families. We partner with other resources in the community such as Reaching Higher a local youth charity to offer young people alternative activities with their peers. Support can mean using our various groups to discuss the delights and frustrations of parenting somebody else children. We have focused on the team’s mental wellbeing over the last year and challenge the team to stay healthy and to reduce stress in our lives through having a good diet and to exercise. Its not unusual for us to go for a walk in the park as a team or have a picnic together as a way of normalising the care experience for all. Support is about as having a range of tools to help foster carers reflect on the challenge of caring for children with complex needs and collectively think and share each other’s worries as a group. It takes a team to support the children in care or as the African proverb says, “it takes ‘a village to raise a child.”

Our core staff are the backbone of the organisation and at Ascent we have an Investors in people’s platinum award, we continue to make great strides in ensuring Ascent is a great place to work and people feel listened to and supported to do their job well. We believe everyone needs reasonable challenge and feedback; and to be clear of the organisational goals. Ours is simple we are committed to providing the best care possible for children and young people. Too achieve this we need motivated people who are aligned with our vision. Thankfully, we have a fantastic team who often go over and above to deliver the best care and support.

Looking for fostering carers across South London presents a major challenge, mainly due to the lack of availability of spare rooms within the family home, birth children are staying at home longer as they are finding it increasingly hard to move either into rented accommodation or buy their own place. A spare room in the family home for a looked after child is essential as they need a place to call their own where they can feel safe. We are actively seeking new carers to join our team. It important that people in South London engage with fostering as it a great way to give something back, its rewarding and we train and renumerate our team well. If you are interested email us on or call us on 0203 757 0070.

Author – Mark Pomell


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