Spotlight

Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship Report

Foster care for adolescents with ‘complex needs’

Laurelle undertook a Churchill Fellowship and travelled to Sweden, France, Germany, Switzerland and Portugal to gather insight and learning pertaining to:

  • Foster carer recruitment strategies and processes
  • Foster carer training for the support of adolescents with ‘complex needs’
  • Good practice in foster carer recruitment and support for this cohort of care experienced young people

“My fellowship showed me that much can be learnt from child protection systems around the world; delivering fostering services that meet the needs of adolescents with ‘complex needs’ is a challenge for local authorities, IFAs, services and communities across the European countries visited, and, as it turned out from the EUSARF conference I attended, across the world. My findings have been arranged according to four clear themes that emerged from interview coding and analysis: role of birth families, recruitment and commissioning, support for foster carers and support for young people.” – Laurelle

The fellowship findings span 10 areas which were grouped into 4 themes. There were 11 recommendations across a range of areas, including commissioning, support for foster carers and birth families, placement innovation, targeted fostering recruitment campaigns and additional support and opportunities for care experienced young people transitioning to independence.

“My fellowship taught me about my own personal practice and led me to reflect on missed opportunities to really inquire, push boundaries and challenge systems and leaders where practice for adolescents with ‘complex needs’ was nothing short of oppressive. As a youth and community worker who prides herself on being a disrupter, this was both an insightful and humbling reflection.” – Laurelle

The trip was the source of much thinking on the strengths of the UK child protection system, for example, Staying Put and offering the same services for all care experienced children and young people, irrespective of whether they are unaccompanied asylum seeking children, or not. However, it highlighted several areas in which central government and local agencies, in partnership with voluntary, community and private sector services, can ‘step up’ and do more to help give one of the most underserved groups in society lives filled with more hope, more opportunities and better outcomes.

The report launch consisted of a panel discussion of the report and findings, followed by an audience conversation on the Fellowship, Report, and the fostering landscape for adolescents.

Panellists included:

  • A young person
  • Andy Elvin – CEO , TACT Fostering and Adoption
  • Professor Ravinder Barn – Royal Holloway , University of London
  • Brigitte Jordaan – Director Children’s Social Care , Barnet Council