Fostering is a way of providing a safe and secure home environment for children and young people who cannot live with their own family. It is a rewarding and caring profession.
There are many reasons why children may need to be fostered, for example:
Their parents may be ill or unable to look after them
Parents may have to cope with severely disabled child and need an occasional break
Maybe the child has suffered neglect or abuse and had to be removed from home for their own safety
Many of the children who need fostering have been through some very traumatic experiences. They may have some quite challenging behaviour or they might just feel lonely and afraid.
As a foster carer, you will provide the support for a child at a time when they need it the most.
Fostering can make a big impact to a child’s life and it’s the care and love you give them during this time that can make a real difference. This is why we will ensure you have all the skills and support necessary to enable you to do this well.
In many situations, children are able to return back to their own families. However there may be occasions when this can’t happen. When a child can’t return to the family home they might either be adopted or placed into long term foster care. If this happens with a child you are looking after, we will provide you with all the support you need to help them and your family plan for the future.
3. Types of foster care
There are many different types of foster care, designed to meet the differing needs of children in care. This also means that as a foster carer you can choose to provide the sort of care, time and commitment that suits you.
There will be occasions when a child or young person needs somewhere to stay at a moment’s notice. This can be for a number of reasons and may only last for a few nights, or for much longer.
Short term fostering
Short term fostering is the most common type of placement and can range from an overnight stay to a few years. Short term fostering is normally required until a child is able to return home, is placed in long term foster care or is adopted. Alternatively older children may leave care to live independently.
Long term fostering
Some children are placed in long-term foster care if they cannot return to live with their birth families and adoption is not considered the best option.
This is often the case with older children who continue to have regular contact with their birth families. These children are looked after by foster carers until they are adults.
Children under 5 are not usually placed in long-term foster care unless they are part of a sibling group, or if they have disabilities or special needs.
Providing respite care allows the child to stay with you whilst their family or carers can have breaks. This can range from occasional or regular breaks, overnight, day respite, or for school holidays, usually up to a week. Respite is usually provided for children placed with our foster carers for a range of reasons for example, emergency arrangements due to illness.
Offering respite care is ideal for people who wish to foster but who need to continue with other commitments such as a full-time job. This type of care is always planned so you’ll be able to agree exactly when a child will be staying with you and for how long.
4. Who can foster?
People from a variety of different backgrounds can become foster carers and we will work with you to give you all the support and training you need.
The one thing all foster carers have in common is that they enjoy the company of children and are truly committed to helping them have the start in life they deserve.
All enquiries are considered, you can be:
single – male or female, married, living as a couple, same sex couple, divorced or widowed
with or without children
of any religious faith or none
of any cultural background
homeowners or renting
employed, retired or on benefits
with or without qualifications or experience with children
To become a foster carer you simply need:
a spare room, for the exclusive use of any foster child
to be 21 years of age or more (there is no upper age limit)
to enjoy the company of children and young people
sufficient time to care for a child or young person
qualities including energy and enthusiasm, understanding and patience and a sense of humour
What age do you have to be to foster?
There are no age limits for fostering. You need to be mature enough to work with the complex problems that foster children may have.
To foster children under 12, you need to be 21 years or over.
To care for teenagers, you need to be at least 25 years.
If you are over 65 years, as long as you are fit and healthy you can be considered.
Can I combine other work with fostering?
Foster carers can work whilst fostering, however, you will need to be available to care for children, including taking them to school, attending meetings and other appointments.
For pre-school age children, you need to be able to fully commit to fostering during the day and one carer will need to be available at all times.
For those children aged 5 – 18 years, you can work part time but you need to be flexible to allow you to respond to the child’s needs and be able to act in an emergency.
Fostering is both challenging and rewarding and we will work closely with you to be sure that fostering is right for you. We will explore what you can bring to foster care and, hopefully, match you with a child or children who will gain the most from your care.
Recommend a Friend
Do you have a friend, colleague or family member who you think would make a great foster carer?
Why not talk to them and ask them to get in touch with us?
When they contact us and let us know that you recommended them, we will record your name against their application. If they go on to become an approved foster carer and start to foster with us, you will receive £1,000 as a thank you for your recommendation.*
*Please note terms and conditions apply. Verification may be required.
5. Short Break fostering
Looking after children with disabilities can be rewarding but also very challenging. That’s why we like to offer regular breaks to families and Foster Carers who are looking after children with disabilities. Short Break Foster Carers allow us to do this.
Short Break Foster Carers find it tremendously rewarding as they are helping both the child and the family, allowing the child to meet new people and have more opportunities and experiences outside of their own family and school.
We need more Short Break Carers to help us. If you have the time, energy and a genuine desire to help a child with a disability please contact us. You don’t need special qualifications or previous experience as long as you are willing to learn and participate in training. You will need some understanding of the needs of disabled children, and may be assessed as requiring additional experience, which we will assist you to secure.
All our Short Break Foster Carers receive training, one to one support and an allowance towards the child’s care, expenses and special equipment.
6. Family and friends foster care
When a parent or guardian is no longer able to look after a child, it can be a very traumatic time for the child. We know the best option for the child is to be looked after by someone they know well. This is when family and friends fostering can be very important as living with a relative or friend of the family will make it much easier for the child.
If you are considering putting yourself forward as a Family and Friends Foster Carer, here’s some information to help you understand what’s involved.
How long does it take?
This process can take around 6 months depending on circumstances, although in some circumstances it can be completed sooner. Although it may seem a long process, we need to be sure that this is the right decision for you and the child involved.
What’s the process?
In order to consider placing a child with you and your family, we need to get to know you by conducting an assessment. The child’s social worker and supervising social worker will come and visit you and your family at home. They will have an informal and friendly chat with you, to determine if this is the right decision for you and the child.
In some cases you may then be able to care for the child, in an emergency placement. In other circumstances we will complete the full assessment before considering moving the child.
You will be allocated your own social worker, who will be able to support you through the assessment process. This stage is all about us getting to know you and your family even better. To do this our social worker will visit you and your family to find out about your life, childhood, your family and anything else they feel will affect you becoming a Foster Carer. As part of the assessment, we also need to carry out things like police checks and obtain personal referees.
At the end of the assessment process our social worker will write a report with a recommendation which will then go to the Fostering Panel.
The final stage in the process is the fostering panel. The panel meet once a month and are made up of staff from social care, health, education, a Foster Carer from another local authority and a person who has been fostered. They will come together to make a recommendation regarding your approval to be a Foster Carer.
Should you be approved, you will then become the Foster Carer for that specific child. However if the courts are also making decisions about the child’s welfare, due to Family Court Proceedings, the Judge may require additional information or occasionally take a different view. You would be encouraged to seek legal advice in these circumstances.
Once approved you will be allocated a Fostering Social Worker who will support and guide you in your fostering responsibilities. You will be provided training to help you care for the child/ren placed with you.
Do I get an allowance?
Family and friend Foster Carers do receive a significant allowance. This amount will depend on the number of children and their ages. Payments will start once the child begins to live with you.