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About fabtic

© Rosie Matheson

Based in London, fabtic is run by Joanna Foster, who is highly experienced in working with at-risk children, providing case supervision, managing front-line staff and supervising volunteers.


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After graduating from Magdalen College, Oxford, Joanna gained over sixteen years’ experience of working in the public, charitable and voluntary sectors, both in the UK and overseas. This included working directly with adults with mental ill-health for the charity Saneline, many of whom were in acute crisis, and ten years’ managing the London Fire Brigade’s firesetting intervention scheme.

Over her decade with the fire brigade Joanna became recognised nationally and overseas as a leading specialist in the field of child-set fires, working with hundreds of London’s most vulnerable children and families. Re-shaping frontline delivery to adhere with statutory requirements and ensure the highest possible standards for families and staff, Joanna worked closely with the London Child Protection Committee to introduce juvenile firesetting behaviour into the London Child Protection Procedures for the first time. As manager, Joanna looked after a team of full-time and volunteer staff, and delivered firesetting intervention training to personnel across a range of fire and rescue services, front-line staff from Greenwich Children and Families Social Care, the MET police, and trainers at the Fire Service College.

In 2010, Joanna’s work with two clients was filmed as part of the BBC2 documentary series Wonderland, in an episode entitled ‘The Kids That Play With Fire’.

Three years later Joanna left the London Fire Brigade and launched fabtic, a company specialising in firesetting behaviour by children. Joanna now delivers training, consultancy and supervision services to front-line practitioners and managers, and continues her direct client work with children and teenagers who set fires, working both privately with families and for public sector organisations.

Joanna has delivered training to 45 of the 52 fire services since the launch of fabtic, along with training practitioners and clinicians from CAMHS, NHS, HMPPS, YOT, forensic psychology, police, education, social care, academia, arts therapies, secure units and adult mental health services, both in the UK and the US.

Joanna has spoken about child firesetting and children’s safeguarding at national and international conferences held in the UK, Ireland, Scandinavia, New Zealand and the US, as hosted by the Forensic Science Society, the Federation of European Union Fire Officer Associations, the Institution of Fire Engineers, the International Association of Arson Investigators, the New Zealand Fire Service, and Gardners Associates.

Trained in restorative practice, Joanna is a member of the CPD Standards Office and authorised to deliver CPD certificated and accredited courses. She is committed to constantly pushing herself to be the best practitioner she can be, gaining a Post Graduate Certificate (PGC) in Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health and more recently achieving a distinction in her Master’s in Applied Criminology, Penology and Management at the University of Cambridge.

Continuing to attract media attention for her work, in October 2016 Joanna featured in the ‘Financial Times’ in an article entitled ‘I Stop Children Setting Fires’. She is co-author of a chapter on juvenile firesetting in the ‘US Handbook of Behavioral Criminology’ with Professor David Kolko and in 2017 she was commissioned by Jessica Kingsley Publishers to write a book for practitioners and parents on juvenile firesetting; ‘Children and Teenagers who Set Fires: Why they do it and how to help’, which was released on 21 October 2019.

Alongside her academic studies, writing, training and work with families Joanna is immensely proud to currently support 40 frontline staff and managers with regular supervision, and to be acting as an expert witness for the Innocence Project, British Columbia.

In the Media

See Joanna’s work featured on the BBC and in the Financial Times


Read more about Joanna’s publications and writing projects


Access Joanna’s thesis exploring the identification of risk and need in children who set fires


"I have known Joanna since 2004 and have been greatly impressed with her leadership and energy both as a manager and a practitioner when working directly with children. Joanna has an intuitive understanding of the complex issues that often underlie firesetting by children and has complemented this insight with extensive reading of the research into the subject. Over the years I have been pleased to advise in some of her more difficult cases and I am confident that Joanna’s focus on evidence-based practice will serve her well with fabtic. Joanna’s focus on the person at the centre of each case means that she will always provide a service which is sensitive to the needs of the child."

David J. Kolko, Ph.D., ABPP, Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, Paediatrics and Clinical and Translational Science, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

"As a company we have had the privilege of working with Joanna for over eight years and her knowledge, enthusiasm and understanding of firesetting behaviour is of an extraordinary high standard. Joanna has sought to develop approaches in practice and training which are inspired by theory and reflect effective and evidence based approaches. This I feel sets her apart from many who work in this complex field. I am delighted to be able to welcome the launch of fabtic. I am happy to endorse Joanna for the on-going commitment she has shown in direct engagement with those who set fires and with those who directly engage with firesetting behaviours."

Robin Morris-Jones, Director Cognitive Centre Foundation