Frequently Asked Questions
ABOUT BEING A FOSTER CARER
Foster carers meet together in small support groups with, or at times without, the assistance of the fostering social work team. This provides much needed opportunity to talk about fostering issues with other carers. Carer support groups are often attended by carers who have a wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise which they have accumulated through many years in fostering. These carers can offer valuable support to less experienced carers.
Formal and informal feedback from support groups help to inform further training needs which can be addressed through the support group, one to one sessions, or in more structured training settings.
We provide learning and development opportunities to help foster carers learn about the child/young person’s life experience and develop their skills in fostering. As part of learning and development we provide pre and post approval training. Your training needs will be discussed every year as part of your annual review.
Before you complete your application to become a foster carer you will be invited to attend Information training. This will give you the opportunity to explore whether fostering is right for you and your family. You will also get to meet and hear from experienced foster carers and young people.
This pre approval course covers a range of topics such as child development, understanding the impact of early childhood experiences, attachment and bonding, understanding and coping with aspects of child abuse, and ways of saying goodbye to children.
Post approval training
When your assessment is heard at the Fostering Company Fostering Panel, who approve you as a foster carer, areas of support and development that the Panel feel you require will be discussed with you, as well as how the Fostering Company will ensure that you receive support. Training will be provided to assist you in meeting the specific needs of the child/young person in your care.
There is an expectation that you attend and complete the Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Carers within 18 months of approval.
Details of all courses can be obtained from our learning opportunities calendar. Carers are provided with a range of venues/times and training methods suitable to their individual needs.
A fee of £350 rising up to £420 per week per child placed, covering the daily cost of caring for a child/young person, is paid into your bank account on the 30th of each month. Foster carers are self employed and manage their own tax, and other contributions.
The Agency cannot guarantee any carer a placement or continuing placements.
The support you receive through your immediate and extended family, your neighbours and your friends is very important. Other forms of informal support may be sought through faith organisations, local clubs, your own GP, or other foster carers living in your area.
To foster successfully it is important that you have a strong support network within your community.
The main source of support will be the social worker from the fostering team, known as your supervising social worker. The role of the supervising social worker is to supervise and support you when children/young people are in your care. You will have regular contact with them via telephone and visits to your home. When necessary, they will accompany you to meetings or attend meetings on your behalf.
You will also receive support from the child/young person’s social worker, health visitor and other professionals involved. Taking part in training will also be an important source of support throughout your fostering experience.
Outside normal office hours, there is an out of hours service. This service provides advice and support to carers who are concerned about the foster child / young person in their care.
There are independent agencies in England who provide support to foster carers. Here are two examples;
Many of the children/young people who need to live with foster carers have been through traumatic experiences. They may feel lonely, afraid or confused which may result in challenging behaviour.
As a foster carer you will need to:
- Promote the health, education and leisure interests of the child/young person.
- Listen and communicate with the child/young person in a way that is appropriate for their age and understanding.
- Be willing to learn new skills.
- Put boundaries in place in order to manage behaviour in an effective and positive way to enable children/young people to grow up to be responsible and well balanced adults.
- Have energy and motivation to remain committed to a child/young person through more challenging times.
- Have an ability to work with and understand the role of all the professionals involved in the child/young person’s life.
- Have good literacy skills or be open to support offered to help you develop these skills.
- Attend training courses designed to help foster carers in the important work that they do.
- Be available to meet with all the people involved in the child/young person’s life.
- Commit to being there for the child/young person even when it feels that you’re getting nothing in return.
You may apply to foster:
- Whatever your race, religion, language, culture, gender, disability, age or sexual orientation.
- If you are married, single, have a partner, are divorced or widowed.
- If you already have children of your own – provided your children are happy to accept a foster child into your home.
- Whether or not you are in employment. Your employment circumstances will be discussed with you to ensure that you will be able to balance the demands of your employment situation with the demands of fostering.
- If you are retired – provided you are able to balance your retirement plans with the demands of fostering.
- If your own childhood was difficult – provided you have been able to reflect on the experience and can now use this in a positive way to help children/young people.
- Provided you have space in your home. It is preferable that a child/young person has their own bedroom.
- Provided you are in good health and enjoy the company of children/young people.
- Provided you do not have a police record for violence or sexual offences.
No. There are three basic types of foster care:
Planned Break Care
Planned Break foster carers care for children for short periods, usually on a regular basis, to give birth parents or their full time foster carers a break. The length of break can vary from one weekend a month to a two or three week period.
Short term foster care
Foster carers look after children full time in their home but the length of stay can vary depending on the child’s family circumstances. During this time Trust staff will work with the family to try to return the child / young person home.
Long term foster care
Foster carers provide longer term care for children / young people who are unable to return to live with their parents in the immediate or near future. However that is not to say they will never return to live with them.
There are also a range of additional ‘specialist’ fostering types, e.g. mother and baby, sibling group and children with additional needs.
Foster carers are ordinary people who open up their hearts and homes to provide care to other people’s children. Some children/young people need to live in foster care for a short period of time whilst others need a home for a longer period of time. It is difficult to be specific about timescales as this depends on the family circumstance of the child/young person. Some children cannot return home to live with their parent/s and they move from the foster carer’s home to adoptive families. When children/young people are placed in foster care by social services they are referred to as ‘Looked After Children’ (LAC).
Foster carers are involved in helping children/young people keep in touch with their parents, extended family, friends and local community.
There is an opportunity to learn more about what foster carers do before making a commitment by participating in a free three day information course run by the agency.
ABOUT INDEPENDENT FOSTER CARE AGENCIES
Foster carers working for Independent Foster Care Agencies have higher allowances and a stronger support and resource package than the local authorities tend to offer.
Local Authorities are ultimately responsible for the wellbeing of all children in public care. They need to find the best way of looking after children to make sure that they receive the best possible standard of care. When the Local Authority is in need of a placement because they cannot find a suitable placement with their own foster carers, they will refer to the fostering company and other Independent Fostering Agencies.
Independent Foster Care Agencies tend to look after children with more complex needs which might include medical needs, sibling groups, parent & child placements and older children.
Children and young people need foster care for many reasons. Some parents have health related problems that prevent them from being able to care adequately for their children. Unfortunately some parents struggle to provide adequately for their children because they did not have a good parenting experience and therefore find it very difficult to be a parent themselves. This can sometimes result in the abuse and neglect of children.