Skyrocket partner The Foster Care Co-operative (FCC) hosted an e-safety conference in Rotherham on 5th February, specifically aimed at keeping vulnerable children safe online. The 'Your Child's Digital World' Fostering Conference, organised and presented by FCC social worker and e-safety specialist Lynn Findlay, was a direct follow on to her monthly e-safety blogs produced for The Foster Care Co-operative.
The initial idea for organising and hosting a conference came from FCC’s Operational Manager, Angela Tobin, following reflections this time last year on the achievements of the organisation's training programmes on e-safety. Also instrumental in the decision was the popularity of the blogs and feedback from staff, carers and other organisations. It therefore felt natural that the conference took its name from the blogs ('Understanding Your Child's Digital World'). The day was a huge success and FCC welcomed speakers, presenters, exhibition stands and most importantly heard the voice of care-experienced young people. The whole event promoted the FCC core values of joined up thinking under the ethos of not-for-profit.
Delegates were welcomed to the event by FCC staff, and had time to visit exhibition stands with coffee before the event began. Strickingly, there were quotes from young people on display - and other exhibitors were What’s The Debate (@WhatsTheDebate), Chily Pep (@chilypep) and Guardian Saints (@_guardiansaints).
After a short introduction from Lynn, Harvey Gallagher, CEO of The Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers (NAFP), talked about digital parenting, the changing fostering task and new NAFP Online Safety and digital parenting. He also promoted joined up thinking with the online and offline world at all stages of the fostering process from initial enquiry to after placement.
Further speakers were, Cath Knibbs, (Cyberspecialist and clinical researcher and adult/child psychotherapist) who presented on cybertrauma and fostering, and Claudia Megele (Head of Service for quality assurance and principal social worker) who presented on understanding the digital identity of children in care. Cath, Claudia and Harvey then joined together to take questions from the floor.
The day continued with Chris Keogh-ly from Guardian Saints - presenting on online safety and data protection issues for children in care. The final section of the day was hearing the young person’s voice and we were delighted to be joined by three care experienced young people, who captivated the room with their online experiences, both as young people growing up in the digital age and from a care experienced perspective.
The event ended with a short closing speech from FCC CEO Sam Ram, who thanked everyone for attending and introduced Skyrocket.
This was first fostering conference hosted by FCC and the event went over and above expectations. It was fantastic to see such shared passion for making a difference to all our young people, and getting involved in their online world and listening to what young people need and are asking for from the adults who care for them. The online world is our world now and there is a shift in this joined up thinking.