Foster Care Fortnight: Why keeping children in care rooted in Reading makes a difference

Brighter Futures for Children’s Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) is encouraging the people of Reading to learn more about being a foster carer during Foster Care Fortnight, which runs from 10-23 May 2021.

In Reading we have, on average, 270 children and young people in our care. We would like as many of them as possible to stay in the borough with a loving family.

Where it is safe to do so, children and young people have told us they would prefer to be looked after close to home. This means they can stay at their school, be near their friends and, if possible, have contact with their family. This instils a sense of belonging and minimises disruption to their lives.

We do not have enough local foster carers in Reading so some young people, like 15-year-old Nick*, have had to move away.

Nick had the idea of planting a cherry blossom tree in central Reading, to help himself and other young people in care to feel ‘rooted’ in the town. We collaborated with Nick and Ethical Reading, Reading Borough Council and Reading Tree Wardens to make that idea a reality.

Planted outside Reading Town Hall in February 2020, the Rooted in Reading tree is a powerful symbol of connection for Reading children and young people in care, especially those living further away.

Throughout Foster Care Fortnight, Brighter Futures for Children’s IFA is encouraging people to visit the tree to read the lovely messages that young people have shared about why it is important for them to stay rooted in Reading.

Foster carer Rachel* said: “Children who are in foster care experience so much change and loss in their lives. Helping them to remain in Reading means they can stay connected to friends and makes things like staying at their school and having time with family members much easier. They need as much stability and security as we can provide – being rooted in Reading can really make a difference.”

Di Smith, Board Chair of Brighter Futures for Children, said: “Our wonderful foster carers play a vital role in the lives of children and young people in care and I would like to thank them all.

“We want to keep Reading children in Reading and we need more local people to become foster carers to make that happen.

“I would urge anyone who has thought about foster caring to contact us to find out more. As well as being a rewarding role, our foster carers receive a great package of training and support and become part of a friendly network of fellow carers.”

Brighter Futures for Children staff and foster carers are hosting a stall on Broad Street on Thursday 20 May and an online information session on Tuesday 25 May at 5.30pm, for people to learn more about fostering. To join and find out how you could help keep a young person, like Nick, rooted in Reading, visit our website at, calling 0118 469 3020 or email

*Names have been changed to protect identities.


Brighter Futures for Children took over the responsibility for the delivery of children’s services in Reading, including children’s social care, early help, education services (including SEND) in December 2018 and the fostering service from March 2019.

Foster carer Rachel* is available for media interviews. Please contact to arrange.

Brighter Futures for Children becomes Fostering Friendly employer

Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC), which delivers children’s services in Reading, is delighted to announce it has become a Fostering Friendly employer, giving extra support to staff who foster children and young people.

Ahead of Foster Care Fortnight, 10-23 May, BFfC launched the scheme, which is accredited by The Fostering Network, in recognition of the valuable contribution foster carers make to our society and especially the lives of children in care in Reading.

Brighter Futures for Children has its own Independent Fostering Agency and is actively seeking foster carers from within Reading

Di Smith, Board Chair at Brighter Futures for Children, said“We are keen to encourage fostering in Reading and understand that foster carers who work with us may need some flexibility in order to meet the needs of their fostered child.

Foster carers who work with BFfC will be offered paid leave to attend training or meetings relating to fostering. Employees will also be offered paid time off when a child is first brought into their care to give them the chance to welcome and settle them into their new home.

“We hope this will offer some support to our current staff who foster and encourage others to consider fostering alongside their career at Brighter Futures for Children.”

If any Reading-based company would like to learn more about becoming a Fostering Friendly organisation to support local people to foster local children, please contact the Brighter Futures for Children IFA:

Find out more information about the Fostering Friendly scheme at:

Brighter Futures for Children chosen as research partner in safeguarding study

A £1.9m project studying safeguarding risks faced by young people outside their home will look at innovative work being carried out by Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC).

The Innovate project is exploring new ways of combating safeguarding risks such as sexual and criminal exploitation, peer-on-peer abuse and gang affiliation.

Researchers will be analysing trauma-informed practice implemented by BFfC within its service delivery. This recognises the impact traumatic experiences in childhood may have on the life of a young person and emphasises resilience and recovery.

The study, led by the University of Sussex and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, will also look at the work of five other organisations across the country.

The focus will not just be on whether and how different approaches lead to beneficial and effective services in the six organisations but on what factors stimulate innovation in social care and enable it to flourish.

Di Smith, Board Chair of Brighter Futures for Children, said: “We are excited to be selected as one of the partners in this study which are at the forefront of developing new ways of supporting children and young people.

“Brighter Futures for Children is implementing the trauma-informed approach as an innovative way of addressing the needs of young people experiencing risk or harm in Reading. We are looking forward to working with the research team and sharing how this approach is being successfully put into practice at BFfC, schools and other partner organisations.”

Find more information about the The Innovate Project at:

View the press release from the University of Sussex at: