We all have sparks within us

Sparks Fostering philosophy

The philosophy behind Sparks Fostering is that all of us have sparks within us which can be nurtured to ignite into beautiful, spectacular fireworks that illuminate and enliven the lives of large numbers of people, or grow and fan into essential flames that are needed to warm a few people close by.

If our ‘sparks’ are not appropriately nurtured, they can become harmful, self-destructive or damaging; however, with appropriate intervention even the most neglected and harmful fires can be redirected to being useful and contained. Sparks Fostering recognises that for many of the children in our care, their ‘sparks’ have been dulled, diverted and diminished, so the children aren’t thriving. We work together as an agency to find the gifts and talents of all the children in our care and we nurture the children’s potential so they can thrive and be the best they can be.

We also apply the same principles towards our foster carers and staff; many adults haven’t yet fulfilled their potential or made the best use of the innate talents they have. We will support each other to be the best we can be, both within our roles in the fostering work, and also outside the work, so that we can actualise our potential and grow to use the skills and natural abilities that we have. By being lifelong learners with a growth mindset, we are role models for the children in our care, who will see that growth and learning is exciting, rewarding and life-affirming.

Sparks Fostering was established in 2022 by Tay Jiva MBE, who is a qualified and experienced social worker, and she is the Registered Manager for the agency. The head office for Sparks Fostering is in central Manchester and the agency operates in the surrounding areas, as far north as Leeds and as far south as Stoke on Trent. Sparks Fostering is a paper-free organisation, with a large amount of information and training available via the agency website (www.SparksFostering.org). Agency records are accessible by staff, foster carers and (where appropriate) children via the agency case management software (which is secure, web-based and accessible via phone apps).


Status and constitution

Sparks Fostering is registered with Companies House under the company name of Social Work Enterprise (Company Number: 12227041). Tay Jiva is the sole Director of Social Work Enterprise. Sparks Fostering applied for registration with Ofsted in June 2022.

Regulatory basis for the Statement of Purpose

The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 and Fostering Services: National Minimum Standards require all fostering services to produce a written Statement of Purpose setting out the aims and objectives of the service and the services and facilities provided.

The Statement of Purpose sets out the framework for Sparks Fostering. It is intended to provide an overall view of the fostering service and it complements the information available on the Sparks Fostering website (www.SparksFostering.org) and within the agency comprehensive Policies and Procedures.

The fostering service promotes the principles and practice outlined in the Children Act 1989 (vol.4), the Fostering Services National Minimum Standards and the Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 and the Care Standards Act 2000.

Sparks Fostering objectives
Sparks Fostering values and principles

Sparks Fostering staff and foster carers understand that whenever possible, children are best looked after within their families, with their parents playing a full part in their lives. However, compulsory intervention in family life is sometimes necessary in order to safeguard a child and promote their welfare.

Sparks Fostering aims to, where possible, support rather than undermine the parental role. The significance of contact for children looked after, and of maintaining relationships with birth parents and the wider family, including siblings, halfsiblings and grandparents, is recognised, as is the foster parent’s role in this.

Children should have an enjoyable childhood, benefiting from excellent parenting and education, enjoying a wide range of opportunities to develop their talents and skills leading to a successful adult life.

Children are entitled to grow up in a loving environment that can meet their developmental needs.

Every child should have his or her wishes and feelings listened to and taken into account. The child’s wishes and feelings should always be established and taken into account when taking decisions in respect of children looked after.

The particular needs of disabled children and children with complex needs will be fully recognised and taken into account

Each child should be valued as an individual and given personalised support in line with their individual needs and background in order to develop their identity, self-confidence and self-worth.

Children in foster care deserve to be treated as a good parent would treat their own children and to have the opportunity for as full an experience of family life and childhood as possible, without unnecessary restrictions.

Foster parents are required by their Foster Care Agreement to care for any child placed as if the child was a child of the foster parent’s family. The default position should be that the foster parent does not treat the child differently to their own children.

Foster parents have an important contribution to make in planning and decision making about the child

The central importance of the child’s relationship with their foster parent is acknowledged and the work of the wider team around the child will be undertaken in a way that strengthens and supports the role of the foster parent.

Foster parents are recognised as having (or developing) the skill, knowledge, expertise, self-awareness, commitment and the ability to work as part of the team around the child

Sparks Fostering and responsible authorities must value and promote the central role of foster parents as part of the wider team, not just caring for and supporting the child, but also contributing to planning for the child, for example through attending reviews and meetings with other professionals concerned with the child.

Foster parents have a right to full information about the child

The status of foster parents is respected, and their levels of authority clearly defined so that they can give children in their care a full experience of family life, safeguard them and help them to grow and reach their potential. The central importance of the child’s relationship with their foster parent is acknowledged and foster parents should be recognised as core members of the team working with the child

Foster parents receive relevant support services and development opportunities in order to provide the best care for children

Genuine partnership between all those involved in fostering children is essential; this includes the Government, local government, other statutory agencies, fostering service providers and foster parents.

The Registered Manager for Sparks Fostering is:

The The Responsible Individual for Sparks Fostering is:

Services and facilities provided by Sparks Fostering

Sparks Fostering recruits, assesses, trains, and supervises foster carers and fostering staff. The purpose of the work is to supply high quality fostering provision.

1. Assessment of foster carers

Once a prospective foster carer has enquired, Sparks Fostering will send the Statement of Purpose to the prospective applicants and will contact the applicant within 3 working days to discuss their suitability and desire to foster.

Initial enquiry (the Sparks Fostering Free Quiz)

The first stage of the application is to complete the Sparks Fostering Free Quiz, which is available on the agency website www.SparksFostering.org and can be completed by the prospective applicant themselves, or with the support of Sparks Fostering recruitment staff.

Home visit

If appropriate a home visit will be arranged within 15 days of completion of the Free Quiz. This will allow the prospective foster parent and the agency to further discuss the prospective applicant’s wish to foster and their suitability to progress to full assessment.

Fostering assessment

Following this, a rigorous assessment and approval process is undertaken with each prospective foster parent.

Application paperwork

The applicant/s will be asked to complete some preliminary paperwork which enables the agency to progress to the next stage of the application, and to start collecting and requesting the information needed for stage 1 checks.

Stage 1

Stage 1 checks include contacting household members, getting police (DBS) checks, reference checks and ID. These checks help us to ensure that fostering applicants are suitable for the role.
Stage 1 of the assessment process is intended to provide the decision maker with basic information about the applicant’s suitability (or not) to proceed to Stage 2 of the assessment in which more detailed information is collected. You will be notified when stage 1 is complete, and the assessment is moved to stage 2.

Stage 2

Stage 2 of the assessment process involves having several sessions with a qualified and experienced social worker, who speaks at length with the applicants about their lives and their understanding of the needs of children. During the assessment preparation period, training is provided by the Service, which helps the applicants to prepare for their role as foster carers; all applicants are required to attend.

Panel and approval

The completed assessment report is presented to the Sparks Fostering Panel. Applicants are invited to attend the Panel (and can bring a supporter if they wish to). The Panel will then make a recommendation about the suitability of the applicants to be approved as foster carers. The comments and recommendation from panel will be passed to a Senior Manager in Sparks Fostering, who is nominated as the organisation’s Agency Decision Maker, who has the final decision about approval on behalf of Sparks Fostering. Applicants are informed verbally and in writing of the Agency Decision Maker’s final decision.

2. Training and development

Personal Development Plan

We are committed to maintaining and developing the highest standards for all our services and our training and development programmes are central to this. All carers and staff have a Personal Development Plan, reviewed regularly.

Introductory information on the Sparks Fostering website

The Sparks Fostering website is a very detailed source of information for prospective foster carers and for approved foster carers.

Preparation to foster training

Introductory information and training are provided by Sparks Fostering during the assessment of foster carers. The training is compulsory as it provides the basic knowledge needed before a child can be placed into a fostering home.

1st year of fostering training: TSDS

It is a compulsory requirement that all newly approved foster carers complete ‘Training Support and Development Standards’ within the first year of approval.

Ongoing training

Foster carers and staff are expected to complete a mandatory training programme and to keep their ‘Personal Development Plan’ up to date with a list of all their reading, training and other learning achievements.

3. Supervision and support

Sparks Fostering supervising social workers are qualified and experienced staff. The roles of the supervising social workers include:

Foster carers are also subject to annual reviews, in line with Fostering Regulation 28 (2). A first review must be presented to panel within 12 months of approval and subsequent reviews take place within every 12 months thereafter (but may not be presented to panel). Sparks Fostering must be satisfied that the foster carers continue to meet the terms of their approval as set out in Regulation 28 (4).

Reviews may also take place at other times for example as a result of a request to change the terms of approval, following a serious complaint, allegation of abuse, or other matters of serious / safeguarding concern.

4. Allowances and fees

Foster carers are given an allowance to meet the needs of the children in their care. A fee is also given to foster carers as a relatively modest compensation for the 24/7 support, attention and care that they provide to the children in our care.

The exact amount of the fee is dependent on the needs of the children in placement, which in turn is linked to the knowledge, experience and capacity of the foster carers.

5. Fostering placements

Sparks Fostering offers a wide range of placements for children and young people (between ages of 0 to 18) with foster parents. All placements are ‘matched’ to ensure a good fit between the needs of children and young people and the skills and experience of foster parents to meet those needs.

All placements must be negotiated through the child or young person’s care authority (the Local Authority) either through individual placement contract or as part of a wider contract of service provision commissioned by the Local Authority.

Emergency placement

Sparks Fostering provides a twenty-four hour service and foster carers who are able to do so are asked to accept unforeseen, emergency placements for individual children or sibling groups.

Short term/task-centred placements

Short term placements can last for up to two years, while long-term plans are being formulated. Short term placements working towards specific goals. These may include assessment placements, bridging and preparation for adoption, permanency or placements which meet other specific care plan objectives.

Bridging and transitions placements

A bridging or transitions placement generally forms part of a longer-term plan for a child or young person. In such placements Sparks Fostering parents work with children/young people and their families toward reunification with birth family or prepare children/ young people for joining adoptive or long term/ permanent fostering families, or for moving to a semi-independent or an independent living arrangement. Transitions placements support children and young people to move from residential placements to a family environment (the plan may include remaining in foster care). These children require their foster parents to have specific skills, who can form attachments with children quickly and can identify and meet the development needs of the children.

Long-term and permanent placements

For some children the long term plan for them is to remain in foster care until age 18; if the child is (or becomes) settled with a particular fostering family, a match may be agreed for the child to remain with the same fostering family until age 18 (or beyond). The advantage to the child/ren of permanent placements is that it can give them stability and can help to develop the attachment between the foster parent and child in our care.

Sibling placements

Some carers are able to care for sibling groups to enable children to stay together. It is important to Sparks Fostering that we are able to keep siblings together whenever possible because the children have already lost so much, that we must try to support them to hold on to any long-term relationships that may benefit them. Foster homes that can care for siblings have the space, time and energy to meet the needs of all the children cared for.

Parent and child placements

Parent and child placements are required for parents who are under 18 years old and are struggling to care for their children. Foster carers can assist local authorities with their assessments by providing information relating to the parent’s ability to safely care for their child. Parent and child foster parents are expected to support the parent in care to improve their parenting skills, with the ideal outcome being that the parent in care develops the skills and confidence to care for their child independently.

Remand placements

Remand placements are needed when a child is waiting for a court date, and the courts have requested the local authority to provide a suitable home environment for the child to stay in. Remand foster carers offer a high level of supervision, strong and appropriate boundary setting and they are available to attend regular meetings and discussions. Children who are placed on remand are on their best behaviour because if the remand placement failed, they would most likely have to spend their remand time in a prison.

Placements for children with complex needs

Our carers also provide placements for children who are at risk of sexual exploitation, trafficking, and /or display harmful sexualised behaviours, or have other complex needs. Sparks Fostering offers enhanced training and supervision for foster carers of children with complex needs.

Solo placements

Solo placements are offered to children who could be a risk to other children and young people, or whose behaviour is so challenging that carers cannot offer enough support if other children are present.

Placements for children with disabilities

Sparks Fostering can deliver a range of services for children with disabilities, including long term, short term, short break schemes and emergency placements. Sparks Fostering teams identify carers with the skills and experience to meet this particular need and offer additional training where necessary.

Unaccompanied children

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children need the support of foster carers who know about the asylum application process (or are willing to learn) and can meet the identity needs of children of various ethnicities, cultures and for whom English isn’t a first language. Many unaccompanied children need specific support in their recovery from intense war (or other) trauma. Foster carers for unaccompanied children are expected to attend relevant training and to be self-motivated to regularly engage in learning opportunities.

Respite placements

All Sparks Fostering carers are entitled to two weeks respite break from fostering for every continuous year that they have been fostering. Ideally the foster carer would forgo the two weeks entitlement and instead they would be given an additional two week allowance, which they can use to cover costs of taking the child on holiday.

Staying Put and Supported Lodgings

These are to enable young people to remain in their foster placement post 18 to support their transition into adulthood. Sparks Fostering encourages foster carers to have long standing relationships with children in our care whenever possible.

6. Closing assessments and termination of approval


Foster carers can give 28 days’ notice of resignation from fostering. The resignation becomes automatic 28 days after written notice is given to the agency.


Fostering assessments may be closed before approval because a returned stage 1 check was unsatisfactory, or during stage 2 because the assessor and Quality Assurance manager believed that the applicant/s wouldn’t be suitable for fostering. Approved foster carers may also be deregistered following concerns by the agency. Stage 2 assessment closures and de-registrations would be presented to panel and then considered by the Agency Decision Maker.
Applicants (who were refused at stage 2) and foster carers (who have been deregistered) who disagree with the decision can appeal to The Independent Review Mechanism (IRM). Information about the IRM can be found here:

Staff support, supervision and planning


All members of staff at Sparks Fostering receive monthly supervision from their line manager.


All Sparks Fostering staff are expected to complete mandatory training and also supplement their training with additional training to meet the specific needs of children in our care and/or to further their own development.

Staff meetings

All staff members attend monthly staff meetings.

Management meetings

Applicant researches fostering and speaks with family and friends about the application.

Registered Manager reviews and audits

The Registered Manager provides quarterly updates to other senior managers. The Registered Manager also submits an annual ‘Reg.35’ management report to Ofsted.

Equality and diversity

Sparks Fostering is totally committed to the principles of equal opportunity in employment and services. No individual, employee, foster carer or child, will be disadvantaged as a consequence of their race, gender, disability, sexuality or any other reason. Discriminatory behaviour of any sort will be challenged and dealt with appropriately.

Our service provision to Local Authorities, foster carers, looked after children and young people reflects this culture of diversity, ensuring that our services, recruitment and general business do not discriminate on any grounds.

Our vision, values and principles

Dissemination of the guidance

The Sparks Fostering Statement of Purpose is uploaded on to the agency website www.SparksFostering.org

By uploading the Statement of Purpose to the website, it can be viewed by anyone, including foster parents, fostering service staff, volunteers, children, the local authority and any parent or person with parental responsibility.

Any comments about this policy, or any other service provided by Sparks Fostering, are taken into account by the senior management of Sparks Fostering. Comments can be submitted via the Contact Form online, or directly to the agency.

Allegations, complaints and standards of care

All children and young people placed with our foster parents are informed of the Complaints Procedures at the point of placement through the Children’s Guide; the foster parent/s provide support to children to help them to understand the Guide when needed.

All foster parents, staff and placing local authorities are asked to read the agency ‘Allegations, Complaints and Standards of Care Policy’ during their induction training with Sparks Fostering.

All policies can be accessed via the Sparks Fostering website: www.SparksFostering.org

All feedback from children, foster carers and staff is discussed at management meetings and plans are put in place to respond to the feedback, with a view to improving the service offered by Sparks Fostering.

Every fostering provider, including Sparks Fostering, is registered with and inspected by Ofsted. Sparks Fostering welcomes the oversight and the opportunity to learn from the recommendations offered by Ofsted. Inspection reports are available to view on the Ofsted website and Ofsted may be contacted at: