About Us – Children Always First

Foster children deserve to thrive. We do everything in our power to give the children who need us the best possible start in life.

Our values

We are an agency founded on our core beliefs. As a team, we truly embody our values each and every day as we strive to make the fostering landscape a better one for both children and foster carers. 

  • Children are always put first (that’s why we made it our name!).
  • Ensure that every child and young person is safe and protected & can blossom physically and emotionally. 
  • To provide the highest levels of service and support to our dedicated foster carers. 
  • To embed therapeutic parenting practices throughout the agency and beyond. 
  • To make a difference to children and young people by adopting therapeutic approach.

Best possible outcomes

We’re here to achieve the best possible education and health outcomes for children and young people – nothing short of excellence will do.

Happy memories for all

We want to ensure all of our children have happy memories of being in our care that will help promote their welfare and support them to heal and grow.

Develop carers

We can’t make a difference without our amazing foster carers.

We invest in recruiting, developing and supporting our carers to provide therapeutic environments for children.

Our story

Children Always First was founded in 2012 with a vision – our founders wanted to create an agency that was different; they wanted to build something that moved away from the large corporate world and focused on creating a family feel.

They wanted to put children first.

For over 10 years, we have been committed to delivering a fostering service that goes above and beyond what was previously thought possible.

Established in 2012

CAF was founded in 2012 with a dream – to build a fostering agency with a real focus on creating a family feel, placing children at the heart of everything we do.

New Beginnings

In 2023 the founders stepped aside to retire and Daniel Croft MBE and Louise Stanley ACMA, CGMA stepped in to ensure CAF continued with its philosophy and mission. ‘It’s his dream to strengthen and build on the strong foundations Julie and Jan built.’

Fostering agencies tend to have a specific focus or strength. 

For us, we’re incredibly proud to be the only agency in the West Midlands with a dedicated youth work team. This means that all CAF foster carers enjoy ongoing, regular support from a team of youth workers, all of whom are highly skilled in both 1-2-1 and group activities with foster children/young people. As well as 24 hour support.

Sector-leading youth work

From nights spent camping to one-on-one activity days, our youth workers are specialists in being whatever a foster child needs – supporter, mentor, professional; it’s their role to help your foster child learn to build healthy relationships. 

Specialised support

You’re never alone when fostering through CAF. Our support team are here 24/7, whenever you need us. We also offer a broad range of clinical support as and when required, both for yourself and for your foster child.

Meet the Team!

We’re a bubbly, lively bunch who love what we do – come say hi!

Daniel Croft MBE – Director/CEO

Dan is an experienced Fostering Director having worked with families since 2001. He grew up in a family that fostered and later ran his own fostering agency for 17 years, as well as running projects for a large national agency and leading and guiding other services.

He now guides Children Always First to promote the very best outcomes for children and young people.

Louise Stanley – Director/Chief Financial Officer

Louise is a fully qualified accountant with over 20 years of relevant experience leading finance teams across Europe she understands the challenges of the industry and holds the financial acumen required for such a task.

Louise has a fantastic understanding of the fostering role as she also grew up in a family that fostered.

Alan Wood – Responsible Individual

Alan is a qualified Social Worker & Child Therapist and has worked in the field of Children’s Social Care for 30 years.

His experience includes posts at Managing Director and Head of Service level. He is also a Visiting Professor at the University of Chester and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Alan was also an award-winning Foster Carer for 9 Years, looking after teenagers on a long-term basis.

Liam McCaughey – Agency Decision Maker 

Liam is a registered social worker with extensive experience in fostering. Having worked in child protection, early intervention and residential children’s homes, Liam has experience of working for and with independent fostering agencies and Local Authorities.

Now as a self-employed independent social worker, Liam’s roles include working as an IFRO (Independent Fostering Reviewing Officer) and an independent assessor.

Jay Wilsdon – Registered Manager

Jay has been the Registered Manager at Children Always First since 2021. Jay has always been passionate about children and had a keen interest in Social Work, particularly fostering and adoption, coming from a family who adopted.

Having worked in both Local Authority and small and large fostering agencies since 2011, Jay brings a wealth of experience to the team.

Sonya Cadden – Team Manager

Sonya is the Team Manager at Children Always First and brings 15 years of experience. For the past 12 years Sonya has worked within the Independent Fostering sector as a Supervising Social Worker, before progressing to become a Senior Practitioner, now Team Manager. She is skilled at enabling students and has an keen interest in attachment theory and therapeutic parenting.

Will Edwards – Senior Practitioner

Will has been a qualified social worker since 1982. After starting out in a local authority with experience in all aspects of child care management and court work, and children in Care, Will moved to the private sector.

He has been involved with all elements of fostering; including Team management, Recruitment & Placements, Training, Panel Management, Quality assurance, Panel Adviser, Managing Assessors and Completing Assessments.

Jodie Bedenham – Supervising Social Worker

Coming from a Local Authority, Jodie has experience in safeguarding and has always enjoyed the challenge of supporting children and young people to achieve positive outcomes.

With a keen interest in attachment theory and therapeutic parenting, working for Children Always First has allowed Jodie to develop a deeper understanding of this and holding an attitude of PACE.

Grace Lander – Supervising Social Worker

Grace was a Local Authority Social Worker for 14 years which gave her experience to support young people as well as their families/carers in many different circumstances. Now being with CAF for 4 years, Grace loves the team and the work that CAF do to get the best outcomes for young people and families.

Leah Yale – Supervising Social Worker

Leah is a Supervising Social worker at CAF. As a dedicated social worker, Leah’s passion lies in advocating for and enhancing the well-being of children, particularly in ensuring positive outcomes for their lives. As a passionate member of the team, she actively seeks out opportunities for training and skill enhancement to better support the children and foster carers.

Hannah Stokes – Youth Support Worker

Hannah has 20 years experience in the childcare sector. After discovering CAF 3 years ago and realising how much their values aligned, Hannah joined the Youth Team and enjoys the reward of witnessing the tangible difference made in children’s lives with CAF.

Leon Gibbons – Youth Support Worker

Leon works in the Youth Team and has done so for the last 3 years. As one of the Youth Support Workers, Leon works closely with the young people part of CAF to build confidence and most importantly have fun! With his expertise in music production as well as his inclusivity, Leon focuses on building a feeling of togetherness.

Alison Bradley – Panel Coordinator

With a vast range of administration experience in Special Educational Needs, School Improvement and Adoption in Local Authority, Alison brings a wealth of knowledge. Specifically, knowledge of panel procedures and documentation as well as essential checks and references of new applications, Alison ensures processes run smoothly and efficiently.

Fiona Moran- Placements Administrator

Fiona’s primary role is ensuring that children and young people are appropriately matched and placed. This is such an essential part of the process at CAF and is managed by Fiona. She is also responsible for coordinating and recording all foster carer training and arranging events for both carers and children. She brings experience from both residential homes and local authorities.

Elliot Wilday – Recruitment & Retention Officer

With over a decade of experience in the fostering sector, Elliot has worn many hats – from administration to youth support.

Now, as Recruitment and Retention Officer, Elliot is responsible for sourcing exceptional foster carers and supporting them through their fostering journey and beyond.

Elaine Carroll – Fostering Engagement Officer

As the Fostering Engagement Officer, Elaine builds relationships with existing foster families and anyone in the initial stages of the assessment. Elaine undertakes the Initial Visits and being part of the journey from very early on means Elaine is an essential part of the onboarding process and building of ongoing relationships with foster carers.

Join the team!

We’re on the lookout for special individuals who meet our high standards and quality criteria. 

If you’re passionate about making a difference in the lives of foster children, and you’re looking for a role that you can be fulfilled in, please have a look at our vacancies and get in touch if you think you’re a good fit!

Foster Care Panel Member

Children Always First are looking for passionate individuals to join our established independent fostering panel.

Thoughts of our Children Always First carers

Our Statement of Purpose

Want to learn more about our key values and what we stand for? Download our full Statement of Purpose to explore more about CAF, our values and our ethos.

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