Meet the head of service at Gloucestershire Council Fostering making a difference to children across the county

SoGlos talks to the head of service at Gloucestershire County Council Fostering, Tammy Wheatley, about how she has improved the lives of hundreds of Gloucestershire children – discussing everything from the fostering service's achievements, strategies and plans going forward.

By Zoe Gater  |  Published
Tammy Wheatley of Gloucestershire County Council Fostering reveals how she's making a difference to children across the county.

There are currently around 870 children and young people in care across Gloucestershire and finding local foster carers is essential to keeping them in the same school and area as their friends and family — and the head of service at Gloucestershire County Council Fostering, Tammy Wheatley, is helping them to do just that.

SoGlos caught up with Wheatley to hear more about how she has positively impacted the lives of hundreds of Gloucestershire children and how people in the county can do their bit to make a difference, too.

What does your role at Gloucestershire County Council Fostering entail and how did you get there?

I have worked for Gloucestershire County Council for 24 years, starting off as a teaching assistant in a school for children with exceptional needs before moving into children’s social care as a community family worker. I was fortunate to be seconded and supported by the council to complete my degree in social work and have never looked back. Having spent a small amount of time in child protection, I knew my passion was for children in care and permanence.

Moving to the looked after children team, I developed and grew into new roles from social worker to deputy team manager, team manager for adoption and then to my current role as head of service – covering children in care, adoption, fostering and family time for children. I am so lucky to have a job which covers all my favourite areas of social work.

What’s changed since you started and what strategies have you implemented?

As you can imagine, a lot has changed in the 24 years since I started my career here but to focus on the last seven years in my current role, the fostering service has grown immensely. The quality of our foster carers and the support they receive has much improved – this includes the training they are provided with and the support groups they attend.

The in-depth Core Cost document and the introduction of the dedicated finance officer has been a real asset to the service and has improved the payment process immensely.

What would you say has been Gloucestershire County Council Fostering’s greatest achievement so far?

I am incredibly proud of many new developments and achievements but, whilst still in its infancy, I feel passionate about the Every Story Matters project for the children to know and understand their story from the point they became looked after until adulthood.

In addition to this, the partnership with CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) introducing the Fostering Development Team has also been a great achievement; offering clinical supervision, foster carer consultations and extended training to staff and foster carers has been a considerable addition to the service and one we are looking to expand. 

What do you want people to know about Gloucestershire County Council Fostering’s work?

Gloucestershire fostering is a service which has two roles: one to support fostering households; and the other to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all our children is at the forefront of everyone’s work, decision making and actions.

We have a culture which is based on relationships, trust, transparency and learning every day. We work hard to maintain relationships and learn from feedback and experiences to ensure our practice is as good as it can be.    

For those who aren't in a position to foster a child, is there anything else they can do to help?

Not everyone can foster for a variety of reasons but that doesn’t mean you can't support and help children who need foster families.

You can find out more about fostering, share this information with people in your community and encourage people who may be able to foster to contact the Gloucestershire County Council Fostering service to find out more.

You could like and share our social media links and adverts; you can ask for some materials and put them up in your place of work or community shops; and if you are ever able to foster, you will be one step ahead in relation to what you know.

What do you hope to achieve with your work in 2023?

During 2023, we have a couple of big developments that will be launched and I am super excited about them. This includes a bespoke out of hours service for foster carers, a supported lodgings scheme, designated support scheme and some exciting marketing campaigns.

I really hope this year we can retain and support all our current approved foster carers, but importantly recruit a number of new amazing foster carers who will join our fostering family, providing local homes for children who really need them.

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