Capstone Foster Care News

Ofsted confirm Capstone Foster Care (North) have been awarded outstanding at their recent inspection.

Staff at Capstone Foster Care based in the North of England are celebrating today after Ofsted rated the independent fostering agency ‘Outstanding’.

Ofsted have deemed the agency as outstanding for a number of reasons and inspectors acknowledged, “The lives of fostered children and young people are significantly enhanced by the work of this agency. It helps to achieve excellent outcomes for them and enables them to make exceptional progress in most areas of their lives.”

The inspectors also praised the staff, “The management of the agency has developed a highly motivated, enthusiastic and energetic group of staff, who are ambitious for the children and young people.”

Children and young people had their say too, about their experiences with their carers with one saying, “I know I always have someone to talk to. My carers are great. They’ve given me a voice and I am now more able to talk about things that worry me.”

Connie Robertson-Gurie who spoke with the Ofsted inspectors during the inspection said, “It’s absolutely brilliant that Capstone Foster Care (North) have been given an outstanding rating. I can’t fault the support and training I have had from the team and as a young foster carer it’s been great to feel like part of the family.”

The report, which followed a five-day inspection carried out in February noted that, “There is strong, competent and effective leadership at all levels within the agency.”

Capstone Foster Care have been assessed on three inspection judgements, and received a rating of Outstanding against all three:

  • Overall experiences and progress of children and young people
  • How well children and young people are helped and protected
  • The effectiveness of leaders and managers

Catherine Lockett said, “I am delighted that Ofsted have recognised all the excellent work undertaken by all our staff and carers. There are many comments I am pleased with but to hear inspectors say that Capstone Foster Care (North) achieve excellent outcomes for our children and young people confirm that we are building brighter futures.”

Capstone Foster Care recruits, assesses and supports foster carers to provide a range of long- and short-term placements for children and young people on behalf of the local authorities who commission its services.

As a country, we need more than 6,800 foster carers in the next 12 months. There are currently record numbers of children in care, and around 13% of foster carer workforce are retiring or leaving every year (source: Fostering Network). Becoming a foster carer, or a foster family, is becoming increasingly more important to cope with the high demand of children and young people who get placed into care, often from a young age.

There are 14,070 looked after Children in the North West and 8,190 in Yorkshire and Humber – the two areas which are covered by Capstone Foster Care (North) division and each week, the Capstone Foster Care teams based in Heywood, Barnsley and Bradford receive up to 300 referrals for children and young people needing foster homes.

About Capstone Foster Care

Capstone Foster Care is an independent fostering agency with offices and hundreds of carers across England who are available to help foster children build brighter futures.

At the time of this inspection, the North based agency provided placements to around 155 children in 120 fostering households.

My husband and I have been fostering for the last 5 years and for most of our time as foster carers we have cared for a young man who is 12 years old and has a diagnosis of autism.

When he came to stay with us, I didn’t really know much about autism. I had heard of it but had no idea of its effects.

I remember not long after he came to live with us we went on holiday and whilst we were on holiday. The change of routine, environment and people must have been too much for him and he had an outburst. At the time I had never seen anyone struggle to manage their emotions in this way and remembered thinking I don’t know if I can manage this.

Throughout the last 5 years we have continued to educate ourselves about autism and the variations of the diagnosis and have worked together to recognise triggers and how to manage them. In a house with 2 other children his bedroom is his safe space. At times the noise and excitement can get a lot, so he now takes himself into his room to have quiet and calm and be in his own company.

I have learnt a lot through speaking with others, attending training offered by Capstone who have supported us and provided me with skills to be able to understand his needs, so I can support him to the best of our ability.

The local authority social worker has also supported us with suggested training that could be beneficial, so the education is ongoing for us as his foster carers and will continue to be.

To support him in a holistic way we work with professionals from school as well as social workers. He currently has an Education Health Care Plan and so receives support from his own allocated teaching assistant who is with him for the duration of his school day.

As his carers we support him mainly with enhancing and developing his social skills as this is something he naturally has difficulty with – he can form friendships but does not maintain friendships well.

In the last 12 months, we have seen him understand himself better and become more responsible for his own actions. When he speaks about his future, he wants to go to university to study and become an archaeologist. We will support him through every stage of his journey. For me, it has been an interesting and educational journey and I’ve been surprised by how vast the Autism Spectrum is, by how many children have a diagnosis of autism, and the thought about your approach to care and support a child who has autism.

Caroline and Tony’s social worker said:

“Caroline and Tony have been committed to develop their knowledge of autism as they recognise that this is in line with meeting the individual needs of the child they care for. They both consider his needs, support with meeting his needs and work with other professionals to ensure that the care he receives continues to support him with his education, health, emotional and social development and well-being.”

Caroline & Tony, Foster Carers, Midlands

Written by Georgina Cadby-Fisher, Community Psychiatric Nurse

When we become stressed our brain releases a chemical called Cortisol which is our bodies natural way of protecting us. We release adrenaline as well as Cortisol and this gives us our fight/flight response to dangerous situations.

As we grow and have childhood experiences some exposure to stress and danger is healthy for us as it allows us to develop a sense of danger and hazard perception which is required for when we reach adulthood.

However, if children have been over exposed to harmful situations for prolonged or continual periods of time then the body naturally continues to over produce Cortisol and this can be harmful for the development of the brain which is crucial in the first five years of a child’s life otherwise known as the early years stage.

We learn to rationalise as we grow older and a part of the brain called the frontal lobe allows us to develop this skill, young children whose frontal lobes have not been able to develop properly due to over exposure of harm and over production of Cortisol may not be able to respond rationally to stress so children look to primary care givers to provide reassurance and emotional warmth. This reassurance allows children to develop attachments and seek out adults if they become stressed.

Stress in children can show itself in varied ways such as poor sleep, impulsive behaviour, lack of empathy, hyperactivity or anxiety.

Ways that you may be able to support a child who may be experiencing stress is by;

  • Play – expressive play allows children to talk or act out their frustrations or worries, use dressing up, arts and crafts or sand and water play. Avoid screen time as we do live in a generation where more children spend increased amounts of time on screen, this does not stimulate the emotive parts of the brain that encourage emotion or expressive play.
  • Outdoor play- playing outdoors naturally relieves stress as we release endorphins when we become physically active, endorphins are otherwise known as feel good hormones. Outdoor play leads to productivity, problem solving and as well as good physical development it can also help with sleep.
  • Get the children involved in Music lessons – music and emotions are closely linked, often playing an instrument, listening and dancing to their favourite songs builds confidence, and can promote empathy and being able to relate to others.
  • Encourage sleep – when we don’t sleep enough we become sensitive and irritable. Bedtime routine is important but also the exploration of why sleep is important for our health and wellbeing.

As the primary care giver you may recognise changes in behaviours, sleep patterns or eating habits. If you do and have concerns speak with social workers, Pastoral Support in Education, teachers and see if there could be any additional triggers or events that they may have an awareness of which could be causing additional stress. You could also visit the GP or speak with the school Nurse.

Helpful sites to visit to support you as the Adults with caring for a child who experiences stress or anxiety are:

Georgina Cadby-Fisher, Community Psychiatric Nurse

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