History of Ferndearle

Ferndearle Child Care Services is a small Therapeutic Community in Folkestone, Kent which was established in 2001 by three Owner/Directors all of whom have qualifications in Therapeutic Child Care based on Psychodynamic Theory and Practice.  The founding directors continue to be heavily involved in the Therapeutic Community, striving for ever-improving services for children and young people from traumatic backgrounds.  Our services were established and designed for the specific purpose of catering for young people with very complex needs that are derivative of trauma from early years.  They have thus been designed in the context of catering for these extreme complexities. 

The directors have long been involved in key sector quality improvement networks that champion research and the development of therapeutic practice. Ferndearle were originally members of the old Charterhouse Group (ChG) established in 1989, who, as a means of evidencing practice, pioneered the development of Therapeutic Community Service Standards for the care and education of children and young people. The criteria for membership of ChG was that Ferndearle’s practice must adhere to ChG Therapeutic Standards which means that we have a long established history of therapeutic practice.  Around 2007, ChG evolved into The Consortium for Therapeutic Communities (TCTC) and, prior to this, worked alongside Community of Communities (CofC) to develop an improved set of Therapeutic Service Standards for therapeutic intervention.  Ferndearle adopted the first edition of these Standards around 2007 into its practices. 

Ferndearle has continued with membership of TCTC and of CofC.   The latter network forms part of the Royal College of Psychiatry operating as a quality improvement network for Therapeutic Service Standards. As a network continually striving for quality improvement, CofC have frequently revised the Therapeutic Standards and we are now in our 9th edition.   We have remained members of CofC and as such, Ferndearle has successfully striven to implement each of these quality improvement changes into practice. 

Vision & Key Endeavours – History/Evolution

From the outset in 2001, the directors had a specific service model with particular features that they were, and continue to be, driven to create, nurture and maintain. These features are represented in the diagram below and further explained in more detail immediately afterwards:  

  • An integrated service of therapeutic care, education and therapy which we refer to as Integrated Therapeutic Intervention (ITI).  We strongly believe in the principle of matching need to different types of placements and that a therapeutic community with ITI should not be seen as a last resort but as a specific needs driven treatment programme that is required for those young people who have higher complexities of need.  For these young people, family placements are invariably not a successful option and, typically, nor is a less integrated package of care the most beneficial.  For these specific high level complex needs we firmly believe that an integrated holistic approach is most beneficial for recovery and maturation to take place. Professionals from these three strands: care, education and therapy, although separate entities, work closely together to inform the day-to-day therapeutic programme of the young person and to develop, monitor and review the package as and when required

  • A service underpinned with evidence based theory and practice that is able to be utilised to understand and successfully treat the emotional and behavioural needs of young people who have significant trauma-related developmental delay. Over the years we have been heavily influenced by many leading practitioners and schools of thought (some of the more prominent being Winnicott, Dockar-Drysdale, Bowlby and their followers; Freudian & Kleinian theory) and these have considerably influenced how our therapeutic model has developed today. To begin with, we had a specific focus on Psychodynamic & Attachment theory and practice but in later years we have further developed our systemic approach. Our evolution is compatible with our current identification with The Secure Base Model as this is based on attachment and systemic theory and practice. This Model is the outcome of research and practice projects headed by Professor Gillian Schofield and Dr Mary Beek in the University of East Anglia Centre for Research on Children and Families. For the other aspects of the model please click onto Systematic Practice and Psychodynamic Practice
  • Firm Commitment to Therapeutically Trained Care Staff – from the outset in 2001, the directors had a strong commitment to training in Therapeutic Child Care; training that incorporated the prominent thinking of the practitioners identified above.  To begin with, we sent our staff to undertake their therapeutic training at the Caldecott College but in 2005, with the help of a prominent Child Care Consultant, Trainer (Caldecott & Tavistock) & Psychotherapist, Christine Bradley, we developed our own Foundation Certificate in Therapeutic Child Care Accredited by Greenwich University.  In 2010, we were joined by our current Child Care Consultant & Prominent Trainer at the Tavistock (Michelle Newman-Brown) who in 2005 co-founded the Tavistock two-year diploma in Applied Systemic Theory based in Maidstone.  Michelle has since greatly expanded and developed our Therapeutic Child Care Modules.  Whilst the requirement to undertake the Foundation Certificate is no longer in place, our course is in-depth and is based on a combination of psychodynamic, attachment and systemic theory and practice.  Modules of this course run throughout the year, every year and because the modules are not designed to be in any particular order, new staff do not have to wait to start their training.  We are proud to say that we have a very highly trained therapeutic staff team.

  • Very Strong Culture of Holding Educational Aspirations for Ferndearle Young People.   From the beginnings of Ferndearle, there has been a very strong emphasis on the importance of educational endeavour which is a culture that is held by all staff in the three sectors of our service.  Despite their previous difficulties in education, we believe that these young people can achieve educationally, providing the environment is able to cater for their holistic needs.  The educational aspirations in relation to one hundred percent attendance or close to, and working hard at school, is firmly embedded in our culture and is such that new young people soon internalise this expectation.  Over the years we have built a School that provides a very specialist service that is equipped to progress young people with complex needs and that has a strong stable base where there is exceptionally good order and discipline.   

Staff Team

There is a high staff to children ratio. In all we have 14 residential places and 13 school day placements.  In addition to our therapy consultants, Ferndearle currently has over 40 staff across care and education.  Our teams are very well established and the level of commitment amongst the staff is high.  There are varying lengths of service ranging from 2 to 15 years, as well as new staff.  We have a wide mix of ages and experiences; several with over 20 years in the field of care or education.  Together there is a wealth of knowledge and experience related to trauma and complex needs.  The staff have a range of qualifications, some of which include: teaching qualifications; relevant degrees & diplomas; diploma levels 3 and 4 in residential child care and Leadership & Management Level 5.  There is a considerable amount of training in specific areas related to the complexities of need of our young people which is in addition to the Therapeutic Child Care training. 

There is a highly qualified Consultant base for therapy and staff support and our Co-ordinator of Therapeutic Services has 27 year’s experience in the field.  For a full list of qualifications and experience of our team you may request a Statement of Purpose by contacting us.

Main Objectives – Integration to Mainstream

We have highlighted above that we strongly believe that some children who have very complex needs are better placed in a specialist service like Ferndearle to allow them to progress.  This does not mean that we feel that this is their final childhood destination, but rather than it is a transient healing/maturational base that will prepare them for the future to live successfully in mainstream life without continued multiple breakdowns.  They thus gradually become ready to reintegrate (or in some cases, integrate for the first time), into mainstream society, educationally, socially, recreationally and into a family placement.  The majority of our young people return to a family placement;  indeed we have successfully returned some of those young people to their own birth or adoptive families.  Some of our young people are integrated into a mainstream school or a larger community special school.  All of our young people become regularly involved in the local community through engaging in charitable events, recreational and social clubs.   They enter or re-enter these settings with a new internal development and a healthy sense of being in relation to self, others and the world; with the base to reach their potential and no longer marginalised in mainstream life.