The fostering service provided for Reading by Brighter Futures for Children (BFfC) has improved its rating to ‘Good’ following a recent Ofsted inspection.

Inspectors awarded ‘Good’ to the three key areas of: overall experience of children and young people, how well children and young people are helped and protected and the effectiveness of leaders and managers.

The Ofsted report published today (Friday 4 March) says there is a clear vision at BFfC’s Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) which is ambitious and forward thinking and that outcomes for children and support for foster carers is improving. The service had previously been judged as requiring improvement to be good.

BFfC’s IFA is a not-for-profit fostering service which operates on behalf of Reading Borough Council.

Overall experience of children and young people

The inspectors, who visited 18-24 January, found that children in care have a sense of permanence and stability and are well matched to foster carers who have the relevant experience and skills to care for them.

The report says: “Their lives are enhanced by the care and nurture that fostering families give. This is because supervising social workers and foster carers advocate on their behalf and ensure that children’s needs are put first.”

Foster carers are praised for going above and beyond what is expected of them to ensure children see their family and friends, which helps them develop secure and trusting relationships. Despite the pandemic, foster carers enabled children to meet up with family and friends safely by organising picnics and outside activities.

A wide range of support is on offer to foster carers, including additional training, access to specialist clinical advice and support groups which, inspectors say, has resulted in children’s lives being enhanced and their voices heard.

The report also notes that BFfC IFA staff and foster carers have positive relationships with professionals, which has contributed to significant progress for some children.

Committed and proactive foster carers were also found to support children of all faiths to ensure their religious and cultural needs are met.

How well children and young people are helped and protected

The inspection report says safeguarding children is embedded into practice. It notes that well-trained foster carers ensure appropriate actions are taken on the odd occasion when a child is not where they are expected to be. IFA staff also work closely with foster carers and the wider network to ensure correct procedures are followed which help to keep children safe.

Inspectors also noted that the recent recruitment of a trauma-informed practitioner has enhanced the support, advice and guidance offered to foster carers.

The effectiveness of leaders and managers

The report says management arrangements have recently been strengthened at the IFA. It says: “There is a clear vision for the service which is ambitious and forward thinking. Positive outcomes for children and support for foster carers has already improved.”

Inspectors commented that complaints are managed well and compliments from other professionals reflect some of the good practice seen during the inspection.

The report also states that senior managers are committed to the service and share the ambitious vision.

It says: “There is strong evidence of ongoing informed practice and development oversight to continually seek improved outcomes for children.”

Di Smith, Board Chair of Brighter Futures for Children, said: “I am delighted with the outcome of the Ofsted inspection into our fostering service.

“I am particularly pleased the inspectors have highlighted how everyone involved in the fostering service has played a part in its improvement. The IFA staff, management, foster carers, supervising social workers and other professionals are all working together to achieve the best possible outcomes for Reading children.

“While we are very pleased with this finding, we will continue to focus on further, long-term improvements to the service we offer.

“I would like to thank everyone involved for their hard work and commitment and invite anyone thinking about becoming a foster carer in Reading to come and join the team.”

Cllr Liz Terry, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Children’s Services, said: “Congratulations to everyone at the fostering service for achieving a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating.

“Our foster carers do an incredible job looking after vulnerable children and young people in Reading and it is vital they have the support they need from the IFA.

“Of course, there is no room for complacency and we will continue to work together to ensure the improvements seen so far continue in the future for the benefit of all Reading’s children in care.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about fostering in Reading, should visit, call 0118 469 3020 or email