Next Step Fostering Services Limited is a family owned private limited company and is an established independent fostering agency. It is a specialised resource for looking after children and young people who need to spend some part of their formative years in care. It may be that the period of foster care is very short, possibly only for one night or a few days and ranging to the other extremes lasting for many years to the point a young person reaches adulthood. We also provide parent and child placements which offer support and assessments often within public court proceedings.
Accordingly we have relationships with the majority of the Local Authorities in London as well as our home county here in Kent together with some authorities further afield when it is deemed necessary, in the interests of the child, to remove them from their existing environment.
In addition we recruit, train and assess fostering families who are then presented to our fostering panel which essentially is a group of experts with differing backgrounds but all within the childcare sector. Once a foster carer is approved a “Link Worker” is allocated from the Agency. This is a professional who has social work experience in the childcare area and who supports foster carers through the fostering process.
Next Step also offers the facility for groups of carers to come together to discuss issues which impact on their work. There are also a variety of core training modules provided by the Agency as well as individually tailored courses to ensure carers receive appropriate training and support. These range over many different issues likely to confront fostering families. We encourage foster carers to regard fostering as a profession and to consider seeking qualification for NVQ Level III and the Foundation Degree in Foster Care.
We have been the lead agency in Kent and Medway for all other agencies and represented these agencies on the following organisations: Ofsted National Stakeholders Group on behalf of Fostering Network, Kent Teenage Pregnancy Partnership, Kent Safeguarding Board (sub group) and as the Chair of the National Steering Group of Independent Fostering Providers.