Independent fostering agency Amicus Foster Care has celebrated its 10th anniversary with its third successive ‘outstanding’ rating from Ofsted.
The Government’s inspectorate has now rated Amicus, which is based in St Werburgh’s Community Centre, constantly ‘outstanding’ since it was established back in April 2009.
In a double celebration, the fostering agency celebrated its 10th anniversary last weekend with an event at Bristol Zoo, attended by 150 foster carers, young people, staff, their families and friends.
Since it started life in 2009, Amicus has placed more than 500 young people, a high proportion of whom had already experienced several placement moves before coming to the agency.
It now prides itself on a high level, approximately 80 per cent, of long term placement stability, thanks partly to a care approach which encompasses wraparound therapeutic support, underpinned by Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy for children with trauma and attachment disorders.
The Ofsted inspector particularly praised Amicus for its use of published research, saying that “as a result children and young people make sustained progress in their overall development”.
Amicus achieved an ‘outstanding’ rating in each of its key categories: experience and progress of its young people; how well they are helped and protected; and the effectiveness of Amicus’ leaders and managers.
The report from social care inspector Linda Bond went on to say: “The skilled, highly qualified and stable staff team, along with experienced and loving carers, ensure that placement stability is maintained for most of the children and young people placed by the agency.
“The agency is highly committed to helping children, young people and carers. Through exceptionally enduring professional relationships, the agency supports children and young people, carers and members of birth families under extreme stress to stay together.”
Amicus Foster Care is based in Bristol and covers the city region as well as B&NES, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.
Currently one of 36 regional top tier foster care providers, it was set up by Nasareen Ahmed, who is supported by social care manager Trish McManamon and business services manager Mark Brady.
Mr Brady, who organised last weekend’s 10th anniversary party, said: “We’re really proud of the work we do here and it’s great for us to mark a decade since we were founded at the same time as the quality of the services we provide was recognised again by Ofsted.
“However, the real credit has to go to the foster carers and the children just as much as it does to us.”
Founder of Amicus, Nasareen Ahmed said: “Our ethos is ‘every child should have a right to a childhood in a family setting’. Amicus Foster Care is forward thinking and we have stepped outside the box to develop bespoke services. We know that one size does not fit all and that’s one of the key elements of good foster care.”
Ms Ahmed also reiterated a call on local people to come forward and help fill a shortfall of carers for children needing homes.
Nationwide, some 5,000 fostering families are needed to fulfil the requirement and she said there were some common misconceptions about fostering.
“People often think fostering is volunteer work,” she said, “but it’s not, it’s a vocation. There’s an allowance paid by agencies to foster carers which would match many salaries.
“With Amicus we also provide a range of benefits, such as training and supervision, therapy, and a beautiful holiday home available to all foster carers and children. It makes fostering a very attractive proposition for the right people to want to join our team.”