Sparks Fostering Team

Tay Jiva MBE
Director and Registered Manager, Manchester
My role with Sparks Fostering

I’m the sole Director and the Registered Manager of Sparks Fostering.  

As the Registered Manager, it’s my responsibility to ensure that all of the work of the agency complies with fostering (and other children’s services) regulations and best practices. 

My qualifications and training

I have an undergraduate degree (BSc) in Psychology; and 3 masters degrees in Psychology; Forensic psychology; and Social Work.

I was also awarded an MBE for my innovative work recruiting foster carers and adopters. 

All of the policies and procedures for Sparks Fostering were written by me, and I review them regularly. 

I still have a lot to learn so I attend training pretty much every week. One of the many reasons that I love social work is that the learning is endless. 

Employment experience

I’ve worked in social care for over 20 years, in pretty much every children’s service sector (from child protection, to youth offending, secure units, prisons, adoption and fostering) and also some adult services (category A mental health unit, probation, drugs services). 

Prior to setting up Sparks Fostering, I was a Registered Manager for another fostering provider for a year and a half; within that time the agency moved from a ‘Requires Improvement’ to a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating. 

My strengths

I love optimising work processes, which includes minimising duplication and making the job easier for everyone involved. I’ve done this sort of work in every job I’ve worked in, even if it’s not part of my job remit. 

The area of work which I’ve had most experience in is in writing and reviewing assessments, which is the foundation of good social work. 

What I struggle with

The most frustrating parts of social work are duplication in paperwork, excessive admin for qualified workers, and poor work/life balance. I’m determined to make sure that Sparks Fostering staff don’t have the same complaints.

I’ve also become tired of attending long training sessions which result in little improvement in skills and knowledge; hence, the training provided by Sparks Fostering is mostly self-taught (with high quality resources). The ‘Sparks’ approach means that motivated individuals can learn a high amount of relevant knowledge with a short amount of time. We can also have fun and emotional support with regular casual meet ups. 

Personality and motivation

It’s important to be honest and direct with people, whilst ensuring that all communication comes from a place of compassion, and kindness. The people I work with never have to worry about what I’m thinking about them – if I’m not able to talk about something, I will say that I’m holding back information and I’ll explain why I’m doing that. 

I’m comfortable knowing that I have gaps in knowledge, and I have weaknesses in my practice; in fact, I embrace the journey of continuous improvement and learning because it gives my life purpose. Social work should never be carried out in isolation – I have faith in my team that they can support me when I struggle, and I will do the same for them. 

I am highly driven by my belief in a compassionate and merciful God, which guides my approach to my relationships, my work and my life. I understand that we’re all imperfect and we’re all on a journey, hopefully to improvement. 

My faith and my willingness to be wrong has given me the strength needed to do work that I’ve been fearful of, which includes setting up Sparks Fostering. It’s an exciting and sometimes frightening journey, but I am reassured that I’m doing what God has guided me to. 

In hindsight, I became a social worker because I needed to understand myself and my emotional needs better. Helping others to grow has been a form of healing and growth for me. 

I have a particular specialism of working with Muslim foster carers and adopters – this wasn’t planned by me but was the result of facing religious discrimination from peers in social work. As with all of my life’s challenges, God took me from a challenging situation and guided me to use the experience to improve my life. 

Hobbies and interests

I’ve been married since 2008 and have two daughters, who keep me fairly busy when I’m not working; that said, they’re all very respectful and supportive of my journey and interests. 

I also own – a national directory of support services. I set this up because I believe that it can save a lot of time and energy for staff who are trying to support vulnerable people. It can also help people find local help themselves. 

I live in Manchester City Centre, which means that I can regularly go to new places to eat, cinemas, theatre, museums, galleries, and lots of other places with friends. I have a ‘Google map’ with about 100 places I want to visit! 

My journey

My parents came over from India when mum was 17 and dad was 27. They had 5 children and built up a fairly successful clothing business. 

I was cute, naughty and popular as a young child. This is a school picture of me where the teacher had to hold my hands to keep me seated because I kept running off. 

My childhood was mostly in a 2 bedroom house with the 7 of us. We were poor and there were lots of challenges, both in terms of finances and in our relationships. 

I went to Brandwood Country Primary School. My memories include loving Christmas because of all the bright colours; I had an imaginary friend that was a black panther; and the teacher in my final year of school either disliked my unruliness or was racist. 

I was blessed in being able to attend a private girls’ school on a scholarship; and in hindsight that school laid the foundations for me being a strong minded feminist. My friends at that school were the best I could ask for – kind, loyal and protective. The physics teacher (Mrs Wells) continues to be remembered fondly by all of us because it was clear that she cared. My art teacher pushed me hard because she knew I could do better (she was right). 

That said, my teenage years (outside school) had plenty of stress and anger. I think schools can do more to support children with difficult personal lives, but that said, my high/secondary school taught me a lot about healthy relationships, mostly by role modelling it through their own behaviour. 

My young adulthood was quite chaotic, largely because I was trying to figure out who I am as a person and where I fit in the world. I only got through that phase relatively unscathed (and alive) due to the protection from God. That said, I did well in employment, I learnt quickly and I committed myself to the job in hand, so I progressed pretty quickly. 

The journey to being who I am today was incredibly hard work and full of significant change. My husband is a blessing, as are many of the kind and generous people I’ve met along the way; but ultimately the progress I’ve made is due to my faith in God and following the spiritual guidance given to me. This has involved doing a LOT of reading and attending a great deal of training on self-development and social care.  

What next?

Mottos that I live by: 

For Sparks Fostering, I want to embed a revolutionary way of working which optimises and streamlines the fostering process. I want the agency to grow significantly to cover England, and for that to happen in a safe and controlled way. My ambition is for all staff and foster carers to be highly trained, confident and happy in their roles. A happy and thriving staff team will lead to the best level of support for the children in our care. 

There will be challenges along the way, but as long as the children in our care are safe and well cared for, I will take the challenges in my stride. 

Contact Information

I can be contacted on [email protected] or 07920097834