It’s ‘how do I become a foster carer’ day! We know that the fostering process can seem confusing and daunting, so we have simplified it all for you below.
What is a foster carer?
Foster carers are ordinary people that come from all walks of life but are extraordinary in their ability to open their hearts and homes for children of all ages who can no longer live with their parents. Foster carers supply either short-term or long-term care placements to a range of children with varying needs. They are loving, compassionate and dedicated people that provide safe and secure homes to children who have often experienced abuse and neglect. Through training and support, foster carers make their children and young people feel valued and respected which allows them to grow and thrive in their new environment.
What do you need to be a foster carer?
There are a lot of myths that need to be busted surrounding who can or cannot foster. For example, some people believe you can’t foster if you are gay or are over a certain age. This simply isn’t true, we do not disregard people based on their age, gender, sexuality, race or marital status. What you do need to foster is:
- A spare bedroom.
- Professional or personal experience interacting with children or young people.
- If in a relationship, you will need to show that it is stable and settled.
- A caring personality and the time and energy to devote to a child.
- Be over the age of 21. There are no upper age limits as long as you are physically and mentally fit.
- No serious criminal convictions.
- A good level of verbal and written English.
- A commitment to the assessment process which could take 4-8 months.
What is the process of becoming a foster carer?
There is an initial enquiry process and the steps that follow; including the initial visit, the application and Form F process. They should be aware that there are also medical checks and DBS checks. It is also important that the whole household knows that they would be a part of/contribute to the assessment.
- The enquiry process- Once you make an enquiry, we will set up an initial phone call with you to discuss why you are interested in becoming a foster carer and answer any questions you may have.
- A home visit- After the initial phone call, we will arrange for a social worker to come and visit you in your home. During this visit they will be able to provide more information about us and the fostering process, they will also be able to answer any more questions you may have. Hopefully, once the home visit is complete we can send out an application form.
- The assessment process- Once you have applied, we will start the assessment process. We will gather information about you so that we can make a decision on your suitability to be a foster carer. This includes police checks (DBS) for yourself and your family, a full medical check-up and contact with referees. This goes into a document called a Form F.
- Training- Before you start fostering we will arrange for you to attend our 3-day ‘Skills to Foster’ training which is lead by a fostering team to help prepare you for the fostering task. It is a great opportunity to meet experienced foster carers and ask them any questions.
- Fostering panel- Once we have collected all the information for your Form F document, your application will go to a panel of fostering experts. They will review the evidence and make a recommendation on your suitability to foster.
- Your fostering career- Once you are approved, we will warmly welcome you to our team of amazing foster carers. We will work hard to find your first match with a child that meets your experience and placement preferences. Futures for Children will continue to provide support and training throughout your fostering career.
How can you enquire?
If you are interested in becoming a foster carer and wish to enquire you can give us a call us on 01622 760 600 or click here to fill out a short online enquiry form. Alternatively, you can head over to our Facebook page and send us a message. We look forward to speaking with you soon!
Who needs fostering?
It’s ‘who needs fostering’ day! We are exploring why children come into foster care and the types of children you could expect to foster as a carer.
According to Coram BAAF, on the 31st of March 2017, there were 72,670 children in the care of local authorities in England.
Out of those, 53,420 children were living with foster carers. There are around 43,710 foster care families in England. ‘The Fostering Network’ predicts that fostering services will need to recruit an additional 5,900 foster carers in the next 12 months to keep up with demand.
Why do children need fostering?
Children come into care for lots of different reasons, and every child will have had a different experience prior to being fostered. However, what remains consistent is that all the children can no longer live with their birth parents. The reasons for this vary, but the most common causes are because either their one or both parents have a drug or alcohol addiction, there are cases of domestic violence within the home, the child is being sexually/physically/emotionally abused or neglected or one or both parents have serious physical/mental health problems which render them unable to care for the child. In many cases, there might be more than one factor leading to the removal of the child.
Many different children need fostering, for many different reasons. They are all so different but what they all have in common is the need to be cared for, respected, protected and encouraged.
When the decision is made that the parents can no longer look after a child, then the child is taken into care and it becomes the local authority’s responsibility to look after their welfare. Social workers work with birth families to ensure the house is a safe place for the child, with the goal of returning the child to the parents if possible. They also work with foster carers to set up a suitable arrangement where the child can live temporarily or on a long-term basis whilst in care.
Who needs fostering?
Children of all ages
Children from the age of 0 to 18 need fostering. However, many children are older, or in their teenage years, and need a lot of support from a foster care at this crucial point in their lives.
As a foster carer, you could provide a young person this support and encouragement, during this important stage of life, to help set them up for the future.
There is also new UK legislation which enables Looked After Children to remain with their foster family until the age of 21, or longer if they remain in full-time education.
Sometimes, groups of brothers and sisters need to go into care. Where possible, we like to keep siblings together so that they remain in a family unit and have the comfort of their siblings around them. By fostering a sibling group, you could make a real difference to the lives of brothers and sisters.
Children with mental/physical disabilities
We see many children come into care with mild to severe disabilities, such as Downs Syndrome or Autism. These children require a special kind of carer, someone who is patient, loving and willing to put in time and effort so that a child with special needs can thrive. With the help of training and continued support of your social worker, you could help meet the needs of disabled children in care.
Children of all races, ethnicities and religion come into foster care. It doesn’t necessarily matter that you are the same ethnicity as the child, or that you share the same beliefs, as long as you are respectful and accommodating of the beliefs of the child. We are looking for carers to help children of black and ethnic minorities to thrive in their new environment.
Children with behavioural or emotional problems
It’s also the sad truth that many of the children that come into care have witnessed terrible things and may have been subjected to neglect or abuse from a young age. This can influence the way they express themselves or control their emotions. It takes a loving, patient and understanding foster carer to support the child through their difficulties and help them grow in life.
As an agency, we will continue to provide excellent training and support to our foster carers to help guide them through any difficulties they face when looking after a child with emotional or behavioural problems.
Parents with babies
Parent and child placements are a specialist type of placement where (usually) a mother and her baby come to stay with a foster carer. The young mother might need extra help with looking after her baby either because there are concerns about drug or alcohol use, her ability to look after the child or because a mental health problem or disability might make parenting a baby difficult.