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Fostering Services




Compass Fostering Services has developed a philosophy that pulls from a range of sources, experiences and National/International Policies & Legislations. These include: the Continental European Model of Social Pedagogy, Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People (2014), National Standards for Foster Care (2003) and The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). Other Legislation drawn upon can be seen below.


As an idea Social Pedagogy first started being used around the middle of the nineteenth century and by the second half of the twentieth century, Social Pedagogy became increasingly associated with social work and notions of social education and participation in a number of European countries.


Social Pedagogy has its roots in Central European progressive education and is sometimes translated as ‘community education’ or ‘education for sociality’ (Smith, 2009).


Social Pedagogy is based on humanistic values stressing human dignity, mutual respect, trust, unconditional appreciation, and equality. It is underpinned by a fundamental concept of children, young people and adults as equal human beings with rich and extraordinary potential and considers them competent, resourceful and active agents.


Compass Fostering Services philosophy of working with children, young people and their families has a strong underpinning and is guided by principles of the Continental European Model of Social Pedagogy. These fundamental principles are:


  • Rooted in Education
  • Holistic in character & child centred with a connection to the concept of head, heart and hand *
  • Concerned with fostering sociality
  • Based in relationship and care


Being mindful of this philosophy, Compass Fostering Services will strive to realise the ethos implied in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Compass Fostering Services will also reflect on the five operational principles of the Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People, which states that services should be guided by these principles:

  • Children’s Rights
  • Family-Oriented
  • Equality
  • Evidence-Informed and Outcomes-Focused
  • Accountability and Resource Efficiently


Compass Fostering Services has a commitment to following National Policies development to enhance the lives of children. The view of the Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People is that a ‘shared commitment and accountability’ perspective should be at the centre of policy development and service delivery.


The National Standards for Foster Care would advocate that service delivery should be based on:

  • ‘Whole-person’ centred, holistic services
  • Responsive, appropriate and integrated delivery of supports and services
  • Delivery of quality, ‘citizen-friendly’ respectful services, underpinned by evidence-based Best Practice, and
  • Effective management of a governance ethos that ensures delivery of accountable, transparent services, delivered with integrity.


Compass Fostering Services also reflects those corporate principles and values of the Tusla Child and Family Agency, that emphasis accessibility of services for local communities and the qualities of trust, respect and collaboration partnership.



  • The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989
  • Child Care Act 1991 
  • Children Act 2001
  • Child Care Regulations 1995
  • The National Standards for Foster Care 2003
  • National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014-2020, Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures 2014
  • Criminal Justice Act 2006
  • Protections for Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act 1998
  • Data Protection acts 1988 and 2003
  • Freedom of Information Acts 1997, 2003 
  • Children First National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children 2011, Department of Children and Youth Affairs
  • Our Duty to Care: The principles of good practice for the protection of children and young people , Department of Health and Children, 2002
  • National Strategy for Research and Data on Children’s Lives 2011-2016
  • National Strategy on Children and Young People’s Participation in Decision-making 2015-2020
  • National Youth Strategy, Department of Children and Youth Affairs 2015-2020
  • Children First Act 2015
  • Child and Family Relationships Act 2015
  • Constitution Act 2012
  • Child Care (Amendment) Act 2015


Head, Heart, Hands and Social Pedagogy

“The Head, Heart, Hands programme refers to social pedagogy as a blend of academic knowledge and research (head), an understanding of emotions (heart), and practical skills and activity (hands) to help fostered children thrive. It puts foster carers at the heart of the child care team, and aims to empower them to help fostered children build relationships and make sense of their world in a way that leads to stability, better outcomes and long term wellbeing. At the same time the programme recognises that in order to develop a social pedagogic approach to foster care, changes are needed in the wider system that influences the way foster carers view and relate to their fostered children – both the immediate system of the fostering service and connected children’s services, and also the wider political and societal system.

Social pedagogy is an overarching framework for social care in many continental European and Scandinavian countries. However, the framework is socially constructed, reflecting the values of society, and therefore the Head, Heart, Hands programme and evaluation is exploring how the framework can be applied in the UK, rather than ‘importing’ a model of care.” (McDermid et al., 2016)

Head, Heart, Hands commenced in 2012 as an ambitious demonstration programme within UK foster care, directly involving both foster carers and staff in fostering services and agencies. Its stated overarching aim was to “develop a social pedagogic approach within UK foster care, thereby increasing the numbers of young people in foster care who achieve their potential and make a positive contribution to society”. To achieve this, The Fostering Network identified the following objectives of Head, Heart, and Hands:

  • To develop a professional, confident group of foster carers who will be able to demonstrate that by using a social pedagogic approach, they will develop the capacity to significantly improve the day to day lives of the children in their care
  • To develop social pedagogic characteristics in foster carers. Foster carers will have an integration of ‘head, hands and heart’ to develop strong relationships with the children they look after.
  • To implement systemic change and a cultural shift which will support social pedagogic practice and recognise the central role of foster carers in shaping the lives of children within their care.
  • To provide a platform for transformation of the role that foster carers play as part of the child’s network.

(The Fostering Network, 2011)



Compass Child and Family Services CLG, Registered Charity Number (RCN): 20144180, CHY Number: 21990