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Pathway Care Celebrates its 20th Anniversary

Pathway Care is proud to be celebrating our 20th year anniversary this month. A major milestone for any independent foster agency, it’s got us thinking about how the system has changed over the years. We interviewed our longest standing staff, Team Operations Manager, Sharon Thomas, to see exactly how the sector has progressed.

The rise of Independent agencies

One of the key things Sharon highlighted was how the perception of independent foster agencies has thankfully changed. After qualifying as a social worker in 1990, she remembers a time independent agencies weren’t viewed so favourably in the foster sector, noting:

“When I started in the independent sector I’d go to events and be ignored - people didn’t know how to take us - but now we’re an established part of the sector”

A decade ago it was difficult for independent agencies to become recognised. These days however, independent agencies and local authorities work closely together. At Pathway Care, we have managed to develop strong links with local authorities. This doesn’t just help us to find loving homes for more vulnerable children than ever before, it also helps us provide regular placements for our carers. The improved perception has also made it easier to recruit much needed social workers.

More support available to both carers and children

One of the most positive changes that has occurred in the sector is the support now available to both carers and the children they foster. Sharon acknowledged the importance of making sure carers are supported, stating:

“Taking on any child is a huge responsibility and taking on siblings only adds to that. It is quite a task - it isn’t always easy, it is a challenge, which is why supporting carers is so important”

At Pathway Care we certainly take the support of our carers seriously. We offer 24-hour support, a carer buddy and in-depth training to ensure all of our carers feel 100% supported at each stage of their fostering journey.

Children are also getting their voices heard now thanks to changes in the consultation process. Sharon explained…

“There is a lot more thought and planning that goes into consultations now. Children have many more opportunities to have their voices heard - and rightly so - and we need to work with children and carers to create lasting relationships”

A more diverse range of carers now accepted

A major change that has also occurred is the wide range of carers accepted. Long gone are the days you needed to meet certain criteria to become a foster parent. No matter what your age, marital status or gender, as long as you are capable of providing a safe, nurturing home to a vulnerable child, you are exactly the type of carer we’re looking for.

Sharon was keen to highlight this, stating:

“We have single male and female carers, same sex couple carers and people of different ages - it’s important people understand that we are keen to hear from anyone who thinks they could help”

As we reach the 20th anniversary, we realise that many positive changes have helped to improve the foster care system. Of course, we couldn’t have made it this far without the help of our dedicated carers. While we’re still working hard to dispel the misconceptions regarding foster care today, we’re thrilled to see just how far we’ve come since we first opened our doors.

We give special thanks to all of our carers and to local authorities for working together to improve so many young lives.

Sadly, the number of children requiring a foster home continues to rise. We’re always looking for new carers willing to open their homes and their hearts to these vulnerable children. If you feel you, or anyone you know, would make a great foster parent, contact us today.