A team that cares about the future of children

Caritas foster team
Sharon Bassa, Bernie Galt, Rebecca Hughes, Steph Stavert and Lucy Doughty

Caritas foster team Sharon Bassa, Bernie Galt, Rebecca Hughes, Steph Stavert and Lucy Doughty

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Finding the right foster parents for children who are in desperate need of a loving home is a personal and heart warming task.

Staff at Caritas Care’s fostering service, based in Tulketh Road, Preston, work with families and other agencies to ensure youngsters are given the best start in life.

Caritas foster team
 - Bernie Galt

Caritas foster team - Bernie Galt

The team of nine has the benefit and backing of Caritas Care, a registered charity which provides projects dedicated to making a positive difference to the lives of all children, families and communities.

Although the charity has been established since 1934, the fostering arm was launched in 1998.

Rebecca Hughes, fostering team manager, says: “The service is one of a small number of fostering agencies in the North West that operate on a not-for-profit basis.

“Carers are paid generous allowances and all remaining funds are reinvested fully in the support services offered.

Caritas foster team
- Rebecca Hughes

Caritas foster team - Rebecca Hughes

“As a small agency we are very good at working together as a team. As a result, our foster carers know all members of the team well and comment that this helps them feel understood and supported, even at evenings or weekends. Last year we delivered 88.5 hours of training and 1,440 minutes of therapeutic support sessions.

“In our 2016 Ofsted we were rated Good Overall with Outstanding for Outcomes for Children, which is a true testament to our success.”

The team consists of a service manager; four supervising social workers; one social work assistant; one education officer and two part time recruitment officers.

Sharon Bassa, social work assistant, has worked in residential care with Caritas 12 years and five years with the foster team.

She says: “I supervise young people’s contact visits with birth parents and other family members.

“I also do some direct work sessions with children and young people. This may include looking at where they may need support to develop their emotional wellbeing and also helping them understand why they are looked after through therapeutic life story work.

“I take a lead on the children’s support groups and also on organising activities we run in the school holidays. These allow the young people to meet other children who are fostered, birth children from our fostering families and helps them to build positive relationships.

“I work with a wonderful group of people who have the wellbeing of children and young people at the heart of their practice.

“The ultimate benefit of this job is being able to offer children and young people choices, chances and opportunities.”

Sue Butterworth, education officer and qualified teacher, says: “I ensure the children and young people are happy and achieving well in nursery, school or college. I attend school meetings with the foster carers to offer educational support and I liaise with school staff to ensure the children are achieving their best.

“The best thing about my job is working with the children and getting to know them really well. I love to see them achieve in what ever makes them happy and hopefully moving into adulthood as successful individuals. The children we support are fantastic and a credit to society.”

Bernie Galt, senior supervising social worker, says: “I recruit prospective foster carers. I remain very involved and work in partnership with foster carers ensuring they are fully supported in their fostering journey. Once a child is placed, I support carers in meetings and work closely with other professionals involved in a child’s life monitoring the progress that children make.

“I am privileged to work with some of the most amazing foster families who care for children. It is extremely rewarding to keep in touch via social media with some of the adults that grew up in the children’s home during the years I worked there. To see them as successful parents themselves now makes me proud to have been a part of their upbringing.”