Tackling online safety for foster care children

29th June 2021

Nominet has launched REACH, a new grant-funding programme, designed to dig deep into digital challenges faced by young people in care.  

REACH aims to improve the online safety of the 65,000 young people in foster care in the UK by building their digital resilience and reducing their vulnerability online.

The programme, run in partnership with Parent Zone, builds on Nominet’s ‘Keeping Children Safe Online’ report, which highlighted that online life brings more challenges for children and young people in care than it does for others, as this most vulnerable group often miss out on adequate protection and safeguarding.

Through REACH, Nominet is funding these nine expert organisations with a total grant of £682,000 to address the unique challenges around the digital lives of children in care: Barnardos, East Sussex County Council, The Fostering Network, Enable Consortium, Action for Children, Arc Adoption North East, St Christopher’s Fellowship, Middlesbrough Council and Who Cares? Scotland.

The challenges these organisations have are:

  1. Improving digital training and skills for foster carers (The Fostering Network, Enable Consortium, Action for Children)
  2. Increasing the integration and recognition of digital safety and resilience in the children’s social care system (Arc Adoption North East, East Sussex County Council)
  3. Providing more inclusive opportunities for care-experienced young people to influence the care policies and processes that affect their daily lives (St Christopher’s Fellowship, Middlesbrough Council, Who Cares? Scotland, Barnardo’s, East Sussex County Council)

In addition to financial support, grantee organisations will also be offered wrap-around support throughout the programme, provided by digital resilience experts Parent Zone.

More detailed information about the programme, the partnership and the grantee organisations can be accessed here.

REACH is a multi-faceted programme built to make a meaningful and sustainable contribution to the online safety ecosystem of young people in care.

“Our social impact programmes are committed to improving the digital lives of one million young people in the UK”, says Nominet Interim CEO Eleanor Bradley, “and through the REACH programme we want to ensure that the 65,000 individuals in foster care, and the cared for children in this community, have a better experience of the online world. This is a very important, but also timely, programme given Covid-19 and the series of lockdowns last year heavily influenced a move towards a greater dependence on digital.”

CEO and Founder of Parent Zone, Vicki Shotbolt, comments: “Building children’s digital resilience and supporting authoritative parenting underpins everything we do at Parent Zone. We’re delighted to support Nominet’s wide-reaching and ambitious programme which will have a long-term impact for children who already experience so many disadvantages”.

About Parent Zone

Parent Zone is a social enterprise that sits at the heart of modern family life, providing advice, knowledge and support to shape the best possible future for children as they embrace the online world. Parent Zone bridges the gap between parents, policy and platforms, providing insights and knowledge in order to shape a better future for all. Nominet initially partnered with Parent Zone on the Discovery Research, before bringing them on board to provide expertise and guidance as Nominet developed this funding programme.

About Nominet

Nominet is driven by a commitment to use technology to improve connectivity, security and inclusivity online. For 25 years, Nominet has run the .UK internet infrastructure, developing an expertise in the Domain Name System (DNS) that now underpins sophisticated threat monitoring, detection, prevention, and analytics that is used by governments to mitigate cyber threats.  Our social impact programme aims to improve the lives of one million people, providing support and opportunities to tackle some of the most important digital issues facing young people in the UK today. www.nominet.uk

Read our Discovery Research 

About our REACH programme

*Statistics from https://www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/advice-information/all-about-fostering/fostering-statistics