Together for Children is celebrating after Ofsted, the government office for standards in education, children's services and skills, publishes the results of two separate inspections of fostering and adoption in Sunderland.
Together for Children (TfC), which provides children’s services on behalf of Sunderland City Council, manages an independent fostering agency and a voluntary adoption agency. Both agencies were inspected during September with Ofsted grading the services as good and praising the quality of work to support children and young people. The effectiveness of leadership and management within the adoption service was judged to be outstanding.
The Ofsted report for fostering states that:
- Children and young people are in stable placements with foster carers who are committed to providing nurturing and effective care.
- Children and young people are attending and achieving in their educational settings.
- Healthcare needs are identified and met. Foster carers are making use of support structures to enhance the emotional health and wellbeing of the children and young people in their care.
- Foster carers are supervised regularly and feel well supported by the agency. There is an increased offer of support groups and opportunities for reflection on practice.
The Ofsted report for adoption states that:
- The agency recruits, assesses, prepares and trains prospective adopters well. This means that they are well equipped to parent the children they go on to adopt and to provide them with stable and nurturing homes.
- Adoptive families are provided with a wide range of training that is appropriate to their needs.
- The agency’s provision of adoption support, both for children before their adoption and for them and their families after adoption, is creative and proactive and of excellent quality.
- The leadership and management of the agency is innovative and inspirational.
Inspectors looked closely at the experiences of the children, young people and adults involved within fostering and adoption, talking to families and service users. The fostering report details that foster carers act as positive role models, noting in one case, that their work ethic had transferred to a particularly tenacious young person.
Councillor Louise Farthing, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services in Sunderland, said: “As Ofsted has said, these are very good reports. Earlier this year, Ofsted recognised significant progress and improvements in our city’s children services.
“These reports are an example of that progress and the council and its partners are all committed to continuing this good work. Ofsted’s finding of outstanding for management and leadership is a tribute to the staff who have led on providing the excellent support and services for adoptive parents and children.”
Martin Birch, Director of Children’s Social Care at TfC, said: “Our fostering team is currently working with and supporting more than 350 children, cared for by 279 fostering households.
“This inspection result recognises the good standards of care provided by our teams and foster carers. The report also acknowledges plans to make further improvements, which include a new e-Portal that will give foster carers access to additional training and support.”
The adoption report praises creative, innovative and proactive ways in which support is provided to adoptive families and their children and how the agency is able to place children with their adoptive families in a timely manner with successful use of foster to adopt placements.
It also comments on excellent developmental training for team members.
Kathryn McCabe, lead manager for fostering and adoption at TfC, said: “Our teams link with a range of partners and of course children’s social workers and these inspection results are testimony to the hard work of all involved to ensure that children develop and thrive in their adoptive families.”
Kathryn adds: “We hold a number of family fun days, a regular Crafty Kidz arts and crafts session and a youth group for older adopted children. These activities add an additional and informal support forum to adoptive families and it is really pleasing that Ofsted commended them.”