Fostering Verb 1. encourage the development of; 2. bring up (a child that is not one's own)
Fostering is caring for children or young people in your own home while their own parents are unable to look after them.
Local authorities have a responsibility to look after children in their area who are in need, and they see foster care as a good way of meeting children’s needs.
About 79 percent of children who are looked after away from home in the UK live with foster families. Foster carers are child care experts working alongside a team of professionals providing children with the highest standard of care.
Fostering is not easy; but it offers the opportunity to make a huge difference to the lives of the children who need it and it can be a very rewarding experience. It can be a temporary arrangement, and many fostered children return to their own families. Children who cannot return home but still want to stay in touch with their families often live in long-term foster care.
Fostered children are not like your own children, and love is not enough to enable you to look after them. Fostering is an important and valuable job, and more people are recognising the skills and commitment that go into looking after other people’s children.
The Foster Carer Role
You will need to ensure that you do all you can to support children and young people in their education, look after their health and promote their social wellbeing. Being a foster carer involves more than just looking after a child.
As well as the day-to-day care of the child, you will be asked to attend meetings about the children in your care, keep written records, and manage information that is confidential and sensitive and help make plans for a child's future.
Fostered children and young people can display difficult or challenging behaviour as a way of coping with no longer being able to live in their home. As a foster carer you need to be able to recognise the possible causes of such behaviour and, with the support of your fostering service, develop strategies to help the child or young person manage their feelings and experiences.
Contact with their own families is very important to children and young people in foster care and, as a foster carer, you will need to help maintain this if it is felt to be appropriate. This is important, regardless of any personal feelings you may have about the child's parents.
Contact can be direct (face-to-face) or indirect (telephone, email or letters) and you will receive training to help you manage this.
A team approach is necessary to help children cope with separation, loss, abuse and neglect, settling in long-term foster care or moving on to adoption. Foster carers link to a large network of people: social workers, children's families, schools, health care workers, counsellors, designated teachers and the fostering service.
Fostering can, and will be exhausting and sometimes your patience will be stretched to the limit. However, there can be great rewards – there are few tasks that could be more important than contributing to the well-being of children and young people.
What we look for
Anyone can apply to become a foster carer providing you have the room in your home and the right qualities to look after children who cannot live with their parents. There is no age limit, you can be gay or straight, single or a couple, male or female, of any race or culture.
You do not need to be a home owner and you can have a high or low income. You do not need to have had your own children.
The only specific barriers to applying are if you have certain types of criminal record. Applicants will be required to undergo a criminal record check before becoming a foster carer, so early disclosure of any offences is essential.
What is important is that you have time and space in your life for a child who may be demanding. You will need to show that you can care properly for children and are willing to undergo preparation and training for the job you will be doing.
Although deciding to foster is a very personal decision, it doesn't just involve you. Fostering directly involves every member of your family, and will have some impact on your extended family and even friends too.
Everybody you call family or who you rely on needs to be fully supportive of your decision to foster.
Want to transfer to us?
We know there may be many valid reasons why foster carers wish to change agency, but some may be concerned that the process of transferring is too difficult. However, every foster carer has the right to change agency and the process may be simpler than you think.
When you contact us about transferring, we will initially meet with you to discuss your current circumstances and the reasons why you want to change agency.
If you have foster children placed with you, the first priority must always be to not disrupt their placement. We follow The Fostering Network Transfer of Carers Protocol (PDF, 72k). This involves meetings between yourselves, the local authority and your current agency to discuss the proposed move.
The meeting will then be followed by an assessment process and references from your current agency, together with a review of your carer file. This process takes approximately 2-3 months to complete.
If you do not have a foster child in placement, the process is relatively simple although we will still require references and need to undertake an assessment.
If you are considering transferring fostering agency, please contact us by calling 01202 573408 and we will answer any queries you may have.