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Why choose to foster with us?

1. Why choose to foster with us?

There are many agencies that you can foster with and your final choice will be down to your personal preferences but here are six reasons to foster with us:

  • You’re more likely to have a regular placement as we always place children with our own foster carers first
  • You will receive great support as part of a local authority team focusing on our local children
  • We offer competitive fees and allowances
  • You will gain access to plenty of support and training
  • Your hard work and commitment will be recognised through our annual awards scheme
  • We will treat you fairly and respectfully as set out in our Foster Care charter

2. Support and training

With our excellent support and training, we will help you become skilled and knowledgeable foster carers.

Support

Fostering Social Worker

We know just how demanding caring for a child can be. This is why we ensure all our Foster Carers have a highly qualified and experienced Fostering Social Worker, who will work closely with you to build on your experience and enhance your skills.

You will also have regular contact and support from the child’s social worker.

Professional support

You will have access to advice and specialist support from Health, Education and other professionals. Your Social Worker will help you identify any additional information, skills and support you require to care for a child, and help you access what you need

Foster care support groups

We run regular support groups for our Foster Carers in Aylesbury and South Bucks. Our Foster Carers find these to be very helpful as they are able to meet other Carers in their local area.

We also have specific support groups for those fostering teenagers and for new Carers.

Emergency support

We provide 24 hours support, through our Out of Hours service – 0800 999 7677.

You will have instant access to professionals who will be able to work with you to try and resolve the problem.

Foster Care Association

We pay subscription costs for all our Foster Carers to be members of the Fostering Network, which gives you access to personal and professional development. Fostering Network is the leading fostering charity in the country.

Visit their website for more information www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk

Sons and Daughters Group

We understand that fostering doesn’t just involve the adults, but the whole family. As a result we have developed the Sons and Daughters group, which provides an activity based support group for children and young people whose parents foster. This offers them a chance to take part in fun activities and meet others with similar experiences. The group is a fun and informative way for young people to come together during the school holidays.

Equipment

We will supply you with all the essential equipment you need to carry out your role. This will be age appropriate equipment such as stair gates, and car seats, etc.

Regular newsletter

You will receive a regular newsletter which will keep you informed and help you with your fostering role.

Annual Dinner and Awards Evening

Every year we hold a Dinner and Awards Evening to recognise the fantastic contribution and outstanding work carried out by our Foster Carers. It’s also our way of saying thank you to all our dedicated Carers, who do such a phenomenal job, looking after Buckinghamshire’s Children.

We also take this as an opportunity to recognise the long term service from some of our Carers who have been with us for many years!

Training

We are committed to ensuring you receive regular, high quality training to help you in your role as foster carer. Your social worker will work closely with you to recommend the right courses. We ask that our foster carers attend or complete at least 2 training opportunities a year. Should you complete more than 5 sessions or more, you will receive a one off payment.

In addition if you decide to do some on-going personal development and complete a programme of training courses, you will also receive a payment.

Level

What you need to do  Payment
Level 1 Complete TSD standards and attend 5 mandatory courses within the first year of fostering Normal Fostering Allowance
Level 2 Completed the TSD (Training Support and Development) Standards

£200 honorarium for mainstream carers, £100 for Family & Friends and Short Break carers plus a certificate
Sign up for Level 3 Carers decide to sign up to complete Level 3 P4S (Payment for Skills) within 2 years. Carers to receive £30 per week for amount of time to complete Level 3 not to exceed 2 years
Level 3 Carers decide to sign up to complete Level 3 P4S (Payment for Skills) within 2 years. Carer to receive a payment of £60 per week
Level 4 On completion Level 4

Carer to receive a payment of £100 per week

Terms and conditions apply with regards payments.

We also encourage our Carers to suggest training courses which they feel may meet their needs.

3. Allowances, Income Tax and Benefits

We understand that caring for children can be a demanding role and that's why we offer a wide range of support, aimed to help you provide a high standard of care for the children.

Allowances

As well as our brilliant training and excellent support, you will receive a generous allowance when caring for a child or young person. The amount you will receive will depend on the age of the child you are looking after and any special needs they may have.

Fostering allowances

Age of child

Weekly Allowance

Birthday & Festival

0 – 4 years

£176.40

£96.10

5 – 10 years

£233.60

£104.20

11 – 15 years

£306.60

£128.50

16 years and over

£359.10

£159.80


Children with additional needs

Age of child

Weekly Allowance

Birthday & Festival

0 – 4 years

£249.90

£96.10

5 – 10 years

£273.70

£104.20

11 – 15 years

£306.60

£128.50

16 years and over

£359.10

£159.80

Child Arrangement Orders and Special Guardianship  

Age of child

Weekly Allowance

0 – 4 years

£140.91

5 – 10 years

£156.66

11 – 15 years

£194.53

16 years and over

£248.85

 

Our allowances are based on the rates recommended by the Fostering Network and are reviewed annually.

What can I spend this on?

You will understand the needs of the child better than us.  We therefore generally don’t tell you how to spend the money but it is expected to cover:

  • Food
  • Clothes
  • Heating and lighting
  • Pocket money (a specified amount depending on the child's age)
  • Dinner money
  • Leisure and social activities
  • Holiday costs

Additional allowances are paid to contribute to a child’s birthday, and religious festivals.

Training

You will also receive additional payments for training. Please visit our training and support page

Income Tax and State Benefits

Income tax

As a Foster Carer you will receive tax allowance on the income you receive from fostering.  This means you will not pay tax on earnings up to a maximum of £10,000 per year.  As a consequence you can in some cases legitimately reduce or avoid tax payments.  

Benefits

The allowances you receive for fostering is unlikely to affect any state benefits, you currently receive.

For more information on taxes, please contact the HM Revenue & customs – www.hmrc.gov.uk

Or contact the Fostering Network on 0270 261 1884

 

 

4. Meet our foster carers

Read about our other foster carers

Our Foster Carer Emily, a mother of one, from Aylesbury has been fostering with us for four years.

My mum has been fostering for years so fostering has always been a part of my life and once I left home she kept badgering me to start fostering too!

I was at home with my two and half year old daughter, when my husband and I decided it was the right time for us to start.

When I first got into fostering I didn’t quite realise why the children there needed looking after. I had to learn about all the different reasons why children might need foster care and that was a bit of a surprise, but I did get a lot of training and support from the council which will prepare you for this, as well as listening to other Foster Carers that have experience.

We foster 0-2 year olds as we live in a flat and they fit in with our family life. I think anyone can foster, they just need to be worldly wise and need to understand that children that come into fostering may need you to be a bit more patient and understanding of them.

Fostering is one of the most rewarding jobs to have. To see them smiling and making those important milestones - rolling over for the first time or taking their first steps - just melts your heart.

One of the children we looked after was a four- week old baby who was born premature. The doctors didn’t expect her to do very well, however during the time she was with us we gave her a loving home and all the attention and care we would our own daughter. She left us just after her first birthday and during this time she developed better than anyone expected.

A lot of people think they can’t foster because they live in a flat, or their place is too small, they work or they are too old. There are lots of myths out there which aren’t true.

My mum is a single parent and has been fostering for years. We also know other Foster Carers who are retired. My advice to anyone thinking about fostering is talk to someone. Whether it’s a social worker or an actual Foster Carer they will be able to help you with your decision.

Making the first phone call can be daunting, but the rewards are huge. I would recommend fostering to anyone.

There are plenty of children out there who just need love – love is easy to give.

Our Foster Carer Suzanne from Haddenham has been fostering children under 5 with us for the last 3 years.

For the last 3 years we have been doing short term fostering for children up to the age of 5 and we absolutely love it. We started when our boys were 9, 12 and 14 years old and I was considering returning to work. My husband works fairly long hours and I was keen to be around for the boys when they came home from school and to be available if they needed me.

Fostering seemed to fit the bill. It has given me a career making a significant difference to a child’s life, working alongside other childcare professionals, undertaking training and understanding human behaviour – also of myself!

It’s been lovely to see our boys playing with and caring for the children we’ve fostered. They have enjoyed being a part of it and seeing these kids heal and develop. They have learnt so much through fostering and it really feels like a team family job we do together.

There are tough days but overall it’s definitely worth it.

Our Foster Carers Lynda and Raymond have been fostering babies since 2010.

Lynda and Raymond were approved as Foster Carers in May 2010 for one child between the ages of 0-2 years old. With five children of their own, Lynda and Raymond are a large family who all embrace the demands and challenges of fostering that they have faced in their first two years.

For Lynda and Raymond, it was the economic climate that brought them to fostering. Ray was self-employed; making bits for cars but with the economy as it is the work started drying up. They had talked about fostering and once their youngest reached five, they decided to apply. Ray now works at Sainsbury’s two days a week and Lynda is a full time Carer so it is working well for them.

Applying was a long process and there are quite a few meetings as there is a lot to discuss but it was really enjoyable. The Barkers also met other Foster Carers and say they were in awe of those who had been doing it for 20-30 years. It was very important to include Lynda and Raymond’s own children in the process and time was taken to speak to them all as well as speaking to Ray and Lynda.

With the babies they have fostered so far, they have had good relationships with the parents. They don’t want them to worry and the more you work with them the better it is for the child.

They receive regular support and supervision from their fostering social worker and their children are attendees at the activity based support group for the sons and daughters of Foster Carers.

So what would Ray and Lynda say to anyone thinking about being a Foster Carer?

“I’d advise people to just go for it, nothing ventured, nothing gained. You need to know exactly what to expect, be honest and as open as possible, there’s no point hiding anything. The rewards are fantastic – I would really recommend it – being able to help is lovely.”

Foster Carer Lee-Anne has been fostering with us since 2011.

Since being approved as a Foster Carer in March 2011, Lee-Anne has found the experience incredibly rewarding and her message to others is simple:

“Just have a go – put your name forward. If there’s a voice in the back of your head, just ring up and find out more. You could be that family who could make a difference to a child. Our family has got loads out of it. We’ve opened our hearts and it’s been really positive. It’s been very rewarding for us – I’d definitely recommend other people to have a go. For the time they are with you they get something they may not have had before – loving care that stands them in good stead for the next stage of their life.

Buckinghamshire County Council is in desperate need of more Foster Carers but people don’t seem to think that Bucks has a need for them. People assume that because you live in a lovely area that can appear quite affluent there’s no need for Carers. So children end up placed a long way away and that affects them seeing their families and means they have to change school which isn’t good for them.”

Lee-Anne understands why it can take time to become approved as the council needs to be very careful that Carers are ready otherwise the children will end up being moved around if they have got it wrong. But she also knows it is a worthwhile process for a family to go through.

Lee-Anne says “All you need is a spare room and a big heart. Foster families are just normal people with everyday issues and problems.”

5. Transfer to us

Are you currently with a fostering agency and looking to transfer to us? The process is much easier than you may think and we are fully committed and focused on finding the right carer for the right child. We are proud of our excellent support and brilliant training and we believe that it could be a positive move for you.

We are responsible for finding homes for children who come into our care. We always try to place them with our own Foster Carers first as this means that our children are able to stay within their local community and will be close to their family, friends and school. By fostering with us, you will be helping us to do this.

While we can give no guarantees as it depends on approval ranges, few of our foster carers are waiting for placements very long, and we are able to give a great range of opportunities to Carers to foster younger children.

If you are thinking about transferring to us, the best thing is to contact us so that we can have a chat with you. Once you are happy for us to contact your agency, we will request your assessment documents from them, and where appropriate initiate a meeting, to plan the transfer. You will then be allocated one of our experienced social workers to guide you through the application process.