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About Us

First Steps Fostering is a parent and child agency which has been developed by four Social Workers with over forty-five years combined experience in front line child protection, child in care and fostering roles. We are privileged to have an entire workforce qualified in Social Work to degree level, which is not a mandatory requirement.

Our Mission



Our purpose is to support children and their families in taking their first steps to brighter futures. We believe that this is best achieved by working intensively alongside our carers to provide excellent quality placements. 
First Steps Fostering is a small parent and child agency, and we pride ourselves on being ‘hands on’ to ensure that our carers and families are provided with the support that is needed at the point that it is required. We are invested in our carers and in our placements, to ensure that the children we are supporting receive the best interventions. The idea behind First Steps Fostering is to provide placements with the sole purpose of achieving permanence for pre-school children at the earliest opportunity through a bespoke package of intense support and services.

Who are we?

The founding members of the agency share a vision for excellent quality parent and child placements in which parents are supported to build on their skills to provide safe care for their children. The agency is based in Kent and all four members of the team are actively involved in the day to day running of the service.

First Steps Fostering recognises the complexities involved in fostering and fully acknowledges the invaluable role foster carers play in caring for children and supporting parents.

Fostering Baby

The Team

Hannah Copley | First Steps Fostering

Hannah Copley

Responsible Individual 

Elizabeth McNeill | First Steps Fostering

Elizabeth McNeill

Registered Manager

Gemma Manning | First Steps Fostering

Gemma Manning

Supervising Social Worker and Training Delivery Manager

Sarah McCormack | First Steps Fostering

Sarah McCormack

Assessment and Programme Delivery Manager

First Steps Responsible Individual is Hannah Copley.  Hannah has worked within Local Authority Statutory Social Work for over a decade. Hannah has worked within Duty and Long-Term Teams supporting children and their families as well as children in Local Authority care. Hannah has worked as a Senior Social Work practitioner and within management roles during her career. A passion of Hannah’s is ensuring that children and their families receive excellent interventions.   Hannah has an interest in working with sexually harmful behaviour and has expertise in risk assessment within this field using AIMS models and Lucy Faithful assessment tools.  Hannah is also a qualified assessor of both Social Work students and newly qualified Social Workers and is committed to developing the next generation of Social Workers.

First Steps Registered Manager is Elizabeth McNeill. Elizabeth started her career within Adult Social Care giving her key insight into the lived experiences of adults whose lives have been affected by a range of adverse experiences. Elizabeth qualified as a Social Worker in 2013 and has extensive experience working within Youth Justice, Front Line Children’s Social Work Services as a Social Worker, Senior Practitioner and Team Manager. Elizabeth has worked within Young Offenders Institutes as a Safeguarding Social Worker and has a key interest in working with young parents who have suffered Adverse Childhood Experiences, seeking to support them to gain the knowledge, skills and motivation required to care for their own children to a good standard. Elizabeth is child focussed, highly motivated and has a vast training record including AIMS, PAMS, Lucy Faithful, Restorative Justice and Non-Violence Resistance.

First Steps Supervising Social Worker and Training Delivery Manager is Gemma Manning.  Gemma has worked within Local Authority statutory social work for 15 years.  Gemma’s most recent role has been as fostering social worker, supporting carers to provide quality placements for children in care.  Gemma has supported children and their families whilst working in the Children’s Social Work Team for 6 years, and prior to that has worked within the Children in Care Team for 9 years, whereby she took the lead with parent and child placements. Gemma has worked as both a Social Worker and Senior Practitioner, whilst also having experience of a supervisory role. Gemma is passionate about advocating for children and their families, ensuring that they are provided with the level of support that they require in order to achieve their full potential.


First Steps Fostering Assessment and Programme Delivery Manager. Sarah has worked with Children and Families for 9 years, supporting those within the community in need of support and protection. Sarah has worked for two Local Authorities; Essex and Kent, and has gained extensive knowledge is assessing families with complex needs to inform decision making for children. Sarah has worked as a Social Worker, Senior Practitioner and more recently in a management role for over 3 years, overseeing intervention to a high number of families. Sarah is passionate about service delivery and working with families where there are concerns around neglect. Whilst Sarah enjoys managerial tasks, working directly with families, offering high quality intervention is a real passion.


Sarah has undertaken additional training resulting in her being equipped to complete PAMS and CUBAS assessments, AIM training and Lucy Faithful training alongside robust parenting assessments.

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