What is fostering?
When you become a foster carer, your main responsibility is caring for someone else's child.
Children go into care as their birth parents are no longer able to look after them anymore for reasons such as abandonment, parent illness, incarceration, abuse and many other reasons.
Fostering enables you to provide a safe and nurturing environment for a child or young people whilst they are unable to live with their birth family. The role of a foster carer is to care for that child until they can either return home to their birth family, when safe and appropriate to do so or until longer-term plans can be made.
This is how fostering differs from adopting, the sole purpose of fostering is to reunite the children with their birth families when suitable to do so, whereas adopting is breaking the legal binding of the child and parents.
What happens during the process of becoming a foster carer?
After you have enquired to be a foster carer, whether it was through a direct message on one of our social media accounts or filling out a form from our website, you will receive an information pack either via post or email. This will tell you everything about us, ie what you can expect from us as a fostering agency and our policies.
The next stage is for you to have an initial call with our Enquiries Officer. This phone call is for you to ask any questions you may have that were not answered in our information pack and will allow you to find out the next stages of fostering.
Following the initial call, if you decide you would like to proceed, you will have another phone call with one of our Supervising Social Workers. During this conversation, our Supervising Social Workers will use this time to get to know you and book a time to complete a home visit.
The home visit plays a big part in helping us to get to know each other better. Our Supervising Social Worker will spend time talking to you about your situation, your family life and home circumstances. The main aim of a home visit is to understand the suitability and whether your application can proceed.
Following a home visit, a report will be written which will recommend whether or not the application should go through. This recommendation will go to the Office Manager who will sign off the report. If we would like to go through with your application but you decide this is no longer for you, you can withdraw or delay your application process at any point.
Once you have completed your application form we will enroll you on a course called Skill to Foster. This will give you an in-depth look into what the role of a foster carer involves and will prepare new applicants for the challenges of fostering. This course will run for three days and gives you a real insight into fostering.
You will now be in the assessment process of your application. This includes checks of referees and a background check of your life including relationships, past jobs, financial stability and parenting experience. You will also have online training to complete. During this stage up to 8 home, visits can be made and the checks can take up to 8 months to complete.
The final stage following the assessment process is Panel. Fostering Panel includes a group of nominated members, who have a broad range of knowledge and experience with child care backgrounds, some will have direct experience of fostering. During Panel they will make a decision on if you are suitable to be a foster carer. Their decision is then passed onto our Agency-Decision-Maker.
If you are successful you will be allocated a Supervising Social Worker who is on hand to guide you and support you wherever needed, you will never be alone in your fostering journey. In your first year, you will also be expected to complete training known as Training, Support and Development Standards.
Your responsibilities as a foster carer:
• Providing a safe home.
• Providing love and support.
• Advocate on behalf of the child.
• Attend to a child's health needs.
• Managing the children's behaviour.
• Encourage contact with family, where agreed.
• Attend meetings with Social Workers and other foster carers.
• Support them to develop their own skills.
We offer respite, long-term, emergency, siblings, short-term, remand, unaccompanied minors, children with disabilities and child and parent placements.
After consideration of your case the Panel will make a recommendation, this also includes making recommendations about the number, age-range and backgrounds of the children they think would benefit most from being placed with you.
Becoming a foster carer and caring for a child or young person who needs you brings many rewards but there are also financial benefits for fostering. Our payments differ depending on the type of placement you have, the child's needs, age and location.
Please note you only get paid when you have a child in placement.
Weekly payment per placement: up to £383.74, or £575.61 for a parent and child placement.
Respite carers allowance: will receive their appropriate level full fee and maintenance payments for each child up to their allowance when taking respite.
You will get additional allowances to help pay for occasions such as birthdays, festivals, summer holidays and internet.