Around 150 foster carers and professionals came together to share best practice and help further improve fostering services for Wolverhampton’s children and young people in care.

The annual Foster Carer Conference, at the Molineux Stadium, brought together carers and professionals to specifically focus on fostering relationships and how to build, maintain and repair them. The theme of the day was ‘Stand by Me’ and its link to restorative practice and therapeutic parenting was the thread running through the event.

Keynote speakers were Shelagh Beckett, Child Care Consultant and author of Beyond Together or Apart – Supporting Sibling Placements, and Therapeutic Social Worker Joginder Shoker-Kang who spoke about a therapeutic approach to fostering relationships.

The conference, on Wednesday (10 July, 2019), was opened by the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Councillor John Reynolds, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, and Emma Bennett, the council’s Director of Children’s Service, and cohosted by Social Worker Trainer Esther Douglas and Fostering Advisor Casey Gavin.

Also, at the conference was vocalist Paul Lee, who performed at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex last year. To the delight of the audience Paul, supported by the City of Wolverhampton Choir and foster carers, sang the Ben E King song, Stand by Me.

Also performing was Themis Creative Production Company, which comprises foster carers and young people in care and delivered a thought provoking play about working with children from a different ethnicity. The performance preceded a rendition by foster carer Donna Keen who sang Labi Siffre’s Something Inside So Strong.

Other guest speakers included Rosie Blackett and Adrian Roberts who shared their experiences of their own journey through the care system. 

Foster carers were also updated about the council’s new specialist fostering scheme, Fostering Families United, a new way of working that provides more day to day support for foster families in Wolverhampton. Carers also learnt about a new Foster Carers Portal which will be introduced shortly to reduce paperwork and make accessing information much easier.

Councillor Reynolds said: "We are constantly looking at ways in which we can improve fostering services and outcomes for our children and young people in care. 

"This important training event was a brilliant opportunity to have foster carers, social workers and other professional in one place, learning together, sharing best practice and helping to develop new ways in which we can support children and young people in Wolverhampton.

“We were also able to reflect and build on the skills that our carers have in safeguarding young people and providing them with a safe and loving family.”

He added: “The conference also gave us the opportunity to say a massive thank to our many foster carers who do a challenging job, day in, day out, to give children and young people the best possible start in life.”

To find out more about Fostering for Wolverhampton, please visit Fostering for Wolverhampton or call 01902 551133.