Fostering Achievement is an innovative scheme that was established in September 2006 to help children and young people in foster care to reach their potential and gain a sense of achievement in terms of academic achievement, personal development, interests and hobbies.
The scheme offers practical and financial support to foster carers in Northern Ireland so that they are better placed to help these children and young people develop new skills, pursue new interests, develop their natural talents and fulfil their dreams.
Fostering Achievement is funded by the Department of Health, Social Security and Personal Safety (DHSSPS) through the Children and Young People’s Funding Package and is managed by the Fostering Network Northern Ireland. The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading charity for all those involved in fostering, and exists to ensure that fostered children receive the highest standard of care.
Educational / training credits of around £800 per year are available in respect of children and young people aged 0-18 years who have been in the care system for at least three months. This includes children just beginning school, those whose education has been disrupted and those with special educational needs or disabilities.
The scheme provides foster carers with funding to access:
- Equipment e.g. computers, bicycles, sports equipment or musical instruments
- A range of educational and personal development activities e.g. school subject tuition, driving lessons, sports coaching, gymnastics or singing lessons
- Advice and training to enable foster carers to be effective first educators of the children in their care
Fostering Achievement use a number of approved suppliers for equipment and services. All equipment (e.g. garden play equipment, computers) is delivered, installed by qualified engineers and reviewed regularly.
Fostering Achievement initiatives
1) ‘Study Buddies’ educational resource pack
An educational resource pack has been developed in conjunction with a number of educational professionals, aimed at helping to improve literacy and numeracy skills of primary school age children in a fun based way. To date, this large purple box crammed with fun ways to learn has been sent to 350 foster homes in Northern Ireland and is proving a huge success among the children and their carers. Fostering Achievement is currently making up another 100 boxes to satisfy current demand among new carers and those who did not receive one first time around.
The pack includes a ‘Study Buddies’ DVD and educational software, comprising of games and scenarios which helps break down literacy and numeracy into manageable chunks. The DVD provides practical guidance to foster carers on how to use the materials contained in the education pack and explains how carers can support children’s learning in a fun and interactive way at home. In addition, the CDROM enclosed uses the ‘Study Buddies’ characters (designed with input from foster children) in an animated birthday party scenario to apply learning.
2) GCSE revision classes
GSCE revision classes are one of Fostering Achievement’s yearly initiatives. Six programmes ran in schools in each Trust over Easter to help young people prepare for their GCSEs. Young people were able to get help with Science, Maths and English.
3) Summer scheme
The summer scheme is an ongoing initiative that has proved extremely successful among children and their carers. Approximately 125 children attended 12 summer schemes across Northern Ireland for a week in August. It is a great opportunity for children to make new friends, increase their confidence and build their self esteem by taking part in fun, educational activities.
How the scheme works
Once registered, a Fostering Achievement development worker will come out to the carer’s home to discuss how Fostering Achievement can best meet the needs of the child / young person in their care. There are six Fostering Achievement development workers who cover the five Health and Social Care Trust areas. The team is made up of people who have experience of working with children / young people with backgrounds in teaching, youth work and social services.
As soon as the piece of equipment or service has been agreed by the child / young person, foster family and development worker, the wheels will be set in motion so that the child / young person can benefit from the scheme as soon as possible.
Who can apply?
Full time foster carers can apply for credits on behalf of children in placement. Respite carers who provide regular care to children can apply for credits in their own right to provide equipment for their home e.g. a computer, board games or other play equipment.
How to apply
Click on the link below to find out more about the scheme and how carers can apply for funding:
Sign up to the the Fostering Achievement Scheme