Fostering Transformed

30th Anniversary: Celebration Conference

Past, present and future of fostering...join us for a seminal, progressive and celebratory event.

30 years: a landmark, celebratory event

If you are involved or interested in fostering in any way including both public and private sectors (Foster Parents, Registered Managers, Supervising Social Workers/Link Workers, Panel Members, Academics, Directors, LAC Teams etc) - this is for you and you are warmly invited.

This 30 year celebration of Fostering Transformed is in partnership with Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers.

Thursday 14th September

12:30pm–7pm University of Kent

Drinks Reception with performance

To purchase tickets, please use the Eventbrite link below.


The History

Until September 1987 traumatised teens had little option but residential care and, as we know, dismal life chances to follow.

A clear point in history began the transformation in the 1970s, when a project within Kent Social Services overturned the accepted wisdom of the day, and a few sturdy families stepped forward to foster those young people. Evaluated by Goldsmiths University there were great outcomes; definitive evidence that it could be done and that young people would benefit.

When the project funding ended, this new breed of professional foster parent could not go backwards and instead quickly rocketed past the point of no return, pushing the evolution on....and in 1987 the first independent fostering organisations were developed. Increasing numbers of struggling and vulnerable teenagers joined families who were committed to them.

Like them or not, Independent Fostering Organisations wouldn't exist if they were not needed, and the learning that started the boat rocking was undeniably transformational in improving lives....which deserves some celebration, and some further thought by us all.

Ticket prices / package

All tickets include:

  • Ticket for the whole event inc speakers and evening celebration
  • Free unlimited access to video material to be presented at the event - an invaluable training resource
  • Free unlimited access to the edited video of speakers at this landmark event
  • Free copy of the book - “Fostering Transformed” - to accompany the event; further background and analysis

Standard fee:   £112.10

Keith Gorman

Host & Speaker

Keith Gorman MBA has been in fostering almost all of his life.

His mother, Brigidin Gorman, fostered throughout his childhood and adolescence, then created the first independent fostering organisation in the UK in 1987.

After an interlude in the USA for Keith, working and studying in New York, he returned to co-found with Brigidin another fostering organisation which became the most successful in the UK at the time. Most recently, culminating in 2017, he has taken another from 'needs improvement' to 'Outstanding' within five years. The experienced Inspector declared feedback from the children and families to be “Incomparably better than other fostering organisations”, and Keith is happy to share why he thinks that is.

Keith Gorman, Host & Speaker

Isabelle Trowler


Since qualifying as a social worker in 1996, Isabelle has worked within the voluntary, statutory and private sectors both in education and social care settings, in a variety of practice and senior leadership roles. She co-designed a new model of delivering child and family social work which has had an enduring influence on the children's social care practice system across the UK and internationally.

Since taking up her current role as Chief Social Worker for England (Children & Families) in 2013, Isabelle has been instrumental in the introduction of national practice standards and post qualification accreditation, the development of teaching partnerships and the creation of a new regulator, Social Work England. She has also played a central part in the ‎introduction of a new What Work's Centre for Children's Social Care, the sector led improvement programme "Partners in Practice", and the roll out of the Department of Education's Innovation Programme.


Isabelle Trowler, Speaker

Dame Jenni Murray


Jenni Murray is a journalist and broadcaster who has presented BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour since 1987. She regularly contributes to various newspapers and magazines, and is the author of several books, including Memoirs of a Not So Dutiful Daughter.

Dame Jenni Murray, Speaker

Jane Keenan


Jane Keenan (MA Eng Lit, MASW) has throughout her adult life specialised in working therapeutically with children and young people, and with those trying to help.  

Including local authority, charity and private sector her experience spans therapeutic community; young offenders; teaching and senior management; and latterly more than ten years in fostering, including being a foster parent….quite simply the most challenging and mesmerising thing she’s ever done.

She is repeatedly humbled and enchanted by the courage of children who are willing to trust, yet again, and by the staggering capabilities of foster parents.

Jane Keenan, Speaker

Prof. Judy Sebba


Professor Judy Sebba is Director of the Rees Centre for Research on Fostering and Education at the University of Oxford, Department of Education. The Rees Centre involves fostering providers, social care and education professionals, carers and care experienced young people in setting priorities for research, undertaking research and publicising the findings. Research on education of children in care includes the Nuffield Foundation-funded Educational progress of children in care (with Prof David Berridge, University of Bristol), that is leading to significant policy and practice changes and the evaluation of the London Fostering Achievement Project funded by the Greater London Authority aimed at improving outcomes of children in care across London. The Centre is also evaluating the Attachment Aware Schools Programme in four local authorities and has been awarded a major grant from the Timpson Foundation to roll this out nationally. As the Evaluation Coordinator of Wave 1 of the DfE’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme, we are involved in setting evaluation standards and seeking to improve the evidence base in children’s social care.

More details can be found at:

Prof. Judy Sebba, Speaker

Lucy Spraggan


For Lucy Spraggan, 2017 is already a year to remember. The singer-songwriter has netted her fourth top 40 album and followed that success with a huge tour across the UK and Europe. Lucy appeared on the X Factor in 2012, since then her audition video has been viewed more than 40 million times. She achieved the unprecedented success of securing a top 20 single (Last Night) and top 40 album (Top Room at the Zoo) while still competing on the TV show. She went on to be the officially most Googled musician of 2012. Lucy was adopted at the age of 18 months and earlier this year was approved as a foster parent

Lucy Spraggan, Speaker

Jenny Garner


Jenny Garner BA (Hons) Social Work was approved to foster in 1995 and has provided throughout her career a warm, nurturing home, predominantly for teenagers, on a long-term basis. She achieved success through use of her myriad skills as a therapeutic foster carer. Jenny brings both personal, as a previously fostered and adopted person herself, and wider experience, as a social worker within Local Authority, Private and charitable organisations; including education, careers and work experience, young offenders, adult homeless centres, children and families and fostering. She has attended to the needs of her own daughter and the children placed with her, but also the children and families that she works with on a regular basis.

Jenny Garner, Speaker

Natasha McDonald


Natasha McDonald is someone who makes the most of her opportunities. Now working in a Young Offender Institution, whilst also studying for her Social Work degree and being a Mum, she lived with two foster families from 5-15. After a presentation to Social Work MA students about her work and experiences Tash was invited to sit as an Independent Fostering Panel Member, so also brings energy, insight and good humour to recruitment of new families...she knows what good fostering requires and is great at explaining it.

Natasha McDonald, Speaker

Taschan Peart


Taschan Peart, aged 20, was part of the foster care system for nearly 15 years. He would like to share his experiences in order to help, inspire and educate carers, families and most importantly the young children or adults in care at the moment.

After a troubled start, and facing challenges trying to understand his life and manage it, he worked in various jobs whilst completing a Foundation Degree in 3D Design through four years of College and University. Currently in full time employment on a hospital switchboard he enjoys art and design greatly and hopes to take a further step into that world.

Through good or bad he’s always maintained a positive outlook on life, and with the support networks he was motivated to get to the position he is in today.

Taschan Peart, Speaker

Mark Owers


Mark Owers is leading the National Fostering Stocktake with Sir Martin Narey. He has worked in children’s social care over 25 years in statutory, voluntary and private settings, as a social worker, manager, lecturer, researcher, delivery adviser, director and CEO. He has spent most of the last ten years in national improvement roles, including three in the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit focusing on child safety and child health and wellbeing.  Mark is currently a professional adviser to the Department for Education.  He is helping to lead the implementation of the regionalising adoption programme.  He is a member of the Adoption Leadership Board for England which he helped to establish together with ADCS.

Mark Owers, Speaker

Harvey Gallagher


Harvey Gallagher is CEO of the Nationwide Association of Fostering Providers (NAFP), which exists to represent the independent organisations who foster around a third of all fostered children in the UK. Bringing experience in local government, national charities, a non-departmental Government body, and as Dad to five, Harvey is also a school Governor. NAFP's membership includes all sizes and constitutions; large national charities to small local businesses, and offers unique insight to patterns and experiences of these fostering specialists. The enduring aim is to improve the lot of the fostered young people, by campaigning to ensure foster families have what they need from the structures around them to provide the best experience possible.

Harvey Gallagher, Speaker

Who should attend?

Lively, fresh, and stuffed with knowledge and experience we are joined by key players from today’s field of research, from the National Stocktake, from broadcasting and journalism and, above all, from those directly involved in today’s fostering and advocacy. We will be lifting salient points from past and present for further exploration and application to the future....all in the interests of working together to improve the lives of children in care. And - it is a celebration after all - performance from a lauded singer/songwriter, who also happens to be a foster parent.

To purchase tickets, please use the Eventbrite link below.


The Venue

The Woolf Lecture Theatre
Woolf College
The Pavilion
Giles Lane
University of Kent

The Schedule

12:30 - 13:00


13:00 - 13:10


Welcome from Keith Gorman

13:10 - 13:40

Professor Judy Sebba

Latest research from the world of fostering

13:40 - 13:55

Harvey Gallagher

What’s trending from within

13:55 - 14:15

Isabelle Trowler

14:15 - 14:50

Jane Keenan

Professionalisation: Fostering Life through a Lens

14:50 - 15:25


Tea, coffee, biscuits etc

15:25 - 15:45

Mark Owers

The National Fostering Stocktake

15:45 - 16:00


Be Your Future: A programme for care leavers

16:00 - 16:50

Dame Jenni Murray

Interviews care leavers Natasha McDonald and Taschan Peart, newly approved foster parent Lucy Spraggan and, approved for 22 years - Jenny Garner

16:50 - 17:10

Keith Gorman

Closing comments, and a vision for a National Database of Foster Parents.

17:10 - 19:00

Closing Performance

Drinks reception in the Colyer Fergusson Music Hall featuring a live performance by Lucy Spraggan

To purchase tickets, please use the Eventbrite link below.


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