Over the last 18 months AFA have been involved in a national research project commissioned by the Dept of Education, looking at different models of supporting long-term foster care placements. The research report was undertaken by Mark Beek, Gillian Schofield and Julie Young from the University of East Anglia and was published in October 2016.

The researchers looked in depth at 17 young people in long-term foster care with AFA foster carers, conducting file searches and interviews with professionals, foster carers and young people to assess the quality of support for the placements. 15 of the young people had been in their placements for at least 2 years, and more than 50% had been there for over 3 years, reflecting AFA’s commitment to ensuring placement stability and consistency for young people.

Some of the comments noted by the researchers in their interviews included:

“(AFA foster carers) let the young people be young people and they are very nurturing. They let the young people know that they are loved, and they are valued. And the carers’ own (adult) young people, they absolutely have included them all into their life” (Child’s Social Worker)

“We are a normal family, just because there is the word “foster” in front of it doesn’t mean anything. Yeah you know there is a back story, the foster part of it is the back story, but other than that we are just a normal family. You know I get taken to things like friend’s weddings and birthday parties, and it’s lovely (Young person)

The report concluded that AFA is “successful in providing a high quality service to both foster carers and young people”, with key features including:

  • Manageable caseloads for staff – workloads “mean that social workers have time to focus on the needs of each of their foster families”
  • A responsive service – foster carers “place high value on the availability and responsiveness” of their social workers (Placement Managers) and of the “high quality of support and supervision they receive”. Across the agency this is underpinned by a “sharp focus on supporting foster carers to provide the best possible care for their young people”.
  • A multi-disciplinary team approach – AFA positions itself “as part of the wider team around the child/young person, including social work, health, education, CAMHS and private therapeutic services support”.

Reflecting on the findings of the research report, Graeme Duncombe and Nigel Pickering, Directors of AFA, said “We are really happy to have been involved in this research and really pleased that the quality of our services has been recognised. As a fostering agency our focus is on providing stability, consistency and the very best possible standard of care for children in order to help them to achieve their full potential”.

To read the full report go to: