My drive to improve care standards remains the same throughout my career

Thursday 30 March 2023
Group of children and young people sitting at a table playing monopoly

Kate Isham, Operational Director within residential care here at Action for Children, shares her career journey and the opportunities she's had along the way.

My first role in the care sector as a teen

I left school at 17, with minimal qualifications and very little idea about what to do. After a year of trying to be an administrator, I was fortunate enough to find a local children’s home supporting young people with disabilities. I attended an interview and I felt lucky to be offered a role as a part-time Play Worker. That was a changing point for me. I had landed a role in something that seemed to come quite naturally to me, and which I loved.

Specialising in residential care

Over the years I developed my skills and understanding in supporting children and young people. I discovered that residential care was my passion. I was determined to give children and young people a positive experience of care which would support their development and skills and enrich their lives.

This steered me towards leadership roles in residential services because I wanted to encourage others to embrace that vision of providing the highest possible standard of care.

Action for Children has given me so many opportunities throughout my career. As a Homes Manager, I successfully applied to and completed my Diploma in Social Work. At this time, professional recognition for those that worked in residential care was introduced with the NVQ becoming compulsory for care professionals. I then became an Assessor and Verifier within Action for Children and then an Operations Manager within residential care.

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Completing my Master’s degree

During the last three years, I have completed my Masters in Senior Leadership and Management, once again supported by Action for Children. Not only was it a huge personal achievement but it also enabled me to broaden my knowledge and develop my skills further.

From five children’s centres to 40 – an amazing success

After two years in this, role Action for Children were successful in winning a tender for five children’s centres. I was asked if I would get involved in the project management of this which was a completely new area for me, taking me out of my comfort zone. These five children’s centres developed into us delivering over 40 in this local authority and they are a real success story for our organisation.

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A shared passion to improve care for children and young people

For the last four years, I have been an Operational Director, working with fabulous residential services, community short breaks, family and children’s centres, Independent Visitors and Advocacy to name a few. The passion of individuals and services to make a real difference always amazes me and makes me proud of both this organisation as a whole and those whose work tirelessly to make it all happen.

When I came into this organisation at 19 years of age, my drive was to make a difference and to see young people achieve their full potential.

While my role has changed over the years, this drive remains the same. I hope that sharing this snippet gives you some insight into the opportunities that are available for you here if you choose to take them.

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At Action for Children, we set up our first permanent home for children in 1860. Since then, we've worked to ensure a safe and happy childhood for young people. That work wouldn't have been possible without our dedicated staff teams, all motivated by the same mission. Find out more about our vacancies and what it's like to work with us.