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South & South East Fostering Team Given Investing in Children Membership Award

Foster care at Five Rivers Child Care

Our Ofsted-rated ‘Outstanding’ South and South East Fostering service has received the Investing in Children Membership Award™. This annual award recognises how the Fostering service promotes young people’s participation, involving them in dialogue and decision making regarding the care and support they receive, as well as the changes which take place because of their involvement.

Our London and East Fostering Service have already been reaccredited in 2020, and the South and South East team (which covers Wiltshire, Dorset, Berkshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight) is the latest to be.

IiC Assessor, Robert Johnson, spoke with five young people who are all supported by the South and South East Fostering team in a variety of ways.

During the assessment, our young people involved in the assessment shared ways in which the Five Rivers team involved them in opportunities for dialogue and change. We are proud to share some of the key points, along with the young people’s supporting comments:

A passion for Tractors

One young person spoke with the assessor about his passion for tractors and how the South and South East team have listened to him regarding his interests and future goals, explaining “I really like tractors and have always wanted to drive and own one. They helped me get my licence to drive one on private land when I turned sixteen”. (include link to blog post)

St Johns Ambulance + First Aid Workshops

During the 2019 IiC evaluation, one of the young people suggested that it would be great if she could facilitate some workshops with foster carers on First Aid.

This year, the same young person shared her idea again, and updated the assessor on the changes which took place when it was brought to the team’s attention. She explained “I do first aid with St Johns Ambulance and thought it would be good if I could run some first aid workshops with some foster carers”, these have now taken place. Furthermore, there’s also been a first aid workshop for children, an idea which was supported by the team and other young people. (include link to blog post)

Skills to Foster

The team have been looking at ways to connect our Children and Young People to the Skills to Foster* programme, so that they can explain what makes a good foster carer. During the assessment, one of the young people shared that they identified how they wanted to participate and how the team responded to make the necessary arrangements, explaining to the assessor “I got my voice recorded to so we could tell foster carers what makes a good foster carer”, adding “We said about listening to us and making us laugh and how taking us on holiday was important”. These ideas have since been shared with new and emerging foster carers.

*Skills to Foster is the training which all Foster Carers undertake prior to approval to prepare them for looking after a child or young person.

Family Relationships

One young person spoke to the assessor about her experiences of being listened to by the team while she is on a placement with a family, telling him “I feel like you can speak out and talk about anything, like asking to spend more time with ******, as we weren’t allowed to go out together to begin with but, after I raised this, they changed their mind, so now we can go out to the cinema and other things, which is what I want because we are like family”.


Foster Care Panel

Some of our young people have roles on foster care panels, and are paid for their time. One said “It’s great because we have good knowledge of being in care and of Five Rivers and they listened to me about what I need”.

Camping Trip

The South and South East team took some of the children and young people on a two-night camping trip! “We went on a camping trip last year and we asked if we could go on the camping trip for two nights this year instead of one, which they did”.

Activities and Trips

All activities and trips are planned and evaluated by children, young people and families, and the children and young people have plenty of opportunities to come up with activity ideas. Children and young people who are in families where their parent or parents provide foster support, are also encouraged to participate in the planned activities and specific activities and trips are organised throughout the year based on their ideas.

The young people shared the following with the assessor:

“We got to go to Crazy Golf”.

“We always get the chance to write down our ideas and plan them”.

“We have days out together and talk about how things are going”.

Interviews for Staff

We are proud to involve our children and young people in interviews for new staff, and we encourage them to come up with their own questions. One of our young people said: “I took part in some interviews for foster care support workers and asked them why they want to do this job”.

Other Participation Opportunities

Other opportunities young people have to engage nationally with Five Rivers. Opportunities include the national Youth Council, and Bid for Better, an initiative that brings young people and staff together to share ideas to improve Five Rivers.


The children and young people told the assessor that they were all extremely happy with the way they were treated and how they felt supported; and made no recommendations for how Five Rivers could improve.


The assessor, Robert Johnson, concludes:

“It was a great pleasure to speak to these young people about their experiences and what thoughts they had about the team and how it listens to them and other children and young people. They had very positive experiences and described how they viewed and valued the efforts that the team make in involving them in their care and support, which lead to changes being made and improved support offered to children, young people and foster carers.

The range of opportunities for voicing opinions are highly valued by children and young people and undoubtedly provides the team with the deep knowledge to continue to offer and improve upon a fostering service that is appreciated by many children, young people and the families they work with. It would be encouraging to talk to these young people and others about the excellent work that takes place to connect the children and young people with the foster families and how the young people with whom I spoke felt part of the family.

Therefore, based upon all of this positive feedback from the young people I would like to recommend that the Five Rivers Fostering, South and South East Region team should receive the Investing in Children Membership Award™.

Five Rivers Head of Fostering, Martin Leitch, said.

“We are delighted to hear how well the South and South East region are doing in involving the young people in decision making, and giving them opportunities to make a difference, and give them a voice in society. We will continue to ensure that their needs are put into action to improve their experience of care”.


Read more about our children and young people’s participation here.

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