Can you be a foster carer?
How to begin fostering.
Are you fit enough to foster children?
The first question you need to ask yourself before considering applying to be a foster carer is are you fit and well enough to foster? Because fostering children can be emotionally and physically demanding.
Foster Carer Medical Check.
At the start of your application process you will see your GP to complete a full medical which is paid for by your assessing agency. This is a legal requirement for all applicants.
The medical check will cover areas such as your health background, lifestyle and general family medical history. Being disabled will not necessarily prevent you from being considered to foster.
Ten fostering questions.
Click below for the answers:
Can I apply if I have a police record?
Yes: Providing they are not of a sexual nature or crimes of violence.
Do you have to be married to foster a child?
No: You can be single, in a relationship or married.
Can people who are older or retired foster a child?
Yes: There is no maximum age for fostering a child. There is a minimum age requirement of 21.
A high percentage of approved carers are retired. You just need to be fit enough.
I am not well off, can I do it?
Yes: You do not have to have lots of money, you only need to be financially stable.
You will receive a fostering allowance and a fee for each child placed in your home.
Do you have to be a homeowner?
No: You may rent or be a home owner.
Fostering is different than parenting, it is caring for someone else’s child along with a network of other people and in most cases, the child’s parent(s).
Here are some questions to consider before applying to foster:
Which types would you consider; such as babies, children, teenagers, special needs, mother and baby?
How will you manage arguments or clashes of personality?
How easily do you take on board other people’s opinions?
Could you be flexible enough to accept direction from social workers?
How easily could you change the way you work with different placements?
We help all sorts of people to foster.
If you feel fostering children is for you, there are opportunities for everyone, regardless of your gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, faith, dis – ability or relationship status.
Agencies are looking for people with enough time, energy, patience, and the ability to relate well with a child and the people involved in their care.
You’ll need a spare bedroom and the living space in a stable home which you might rent or own. Check out the National Careers Service job description – then come back!
Are new carers wanted in my area?
Yes: There are vacancies everywhere in the UK. There is a serious shortage of caring homes for children where you live.
So use our free national help to find the right agency and to ‘get it right first time’. Discover your potential! Contact us today!
Starting to foster.
What do you need?
• You need to be flexible, non judgmental and child centred
• To have the ability to work with your fostering agency
• You need to be able to take on board other people’s opinions and formal supervision
• To show you have some experience of caring for children as a carer, parent, or professionally
• You need to be able to provide a bedroom in a safe, loving home environment.
Can you afford to foster? Find out about the pay.
Fostering Application Service.
Step one – Complete our enquiry form
If you decide to complete our enquiry form, you will receive information packs from the most suitable fostering agencies on our Database in your area. This will give you the opportunity to read about what they have to offer, and which agency or agencies you decide will visit you.
You will also receive the free national Simply Foster Care Handbook.
Step two – Home visit by the agency
Following the initial visit and the decision to proceed, the agency social worker will arrange to start your assessment. For couples, both applicants will have to undergo the assessment, checks and training, as both applicants will need to be approved as before they can foster children.
Step three – The assessment process
The assessment will involve about ten home visits from the assessing social worker who will also visit your referees and any other relevant people.
The process is an enjoyable experience however it can be demanding and feel intrusive at times.
The assessment will cover all aspects of your life. Legal requirements have to be met, and they need to ensure that they ‘get it right’ for the foster children you look after. Just as importantly, the agency you work with needs to get it right for you and your family.
As your application proceeds you will be invited to attend a training course. Most agencies use the Fostering Network course called “Skills to Foster”.
The three or sometimes four day training course is arranged to be as convenient as possible for you and might be staged over weekdays, evenings or weekends.
The course gives you the opportunity to learn more about national fostering, and is usually compulsory before approval. This is also a chance to meet other people going through the process of applying and to hear what approved foster carers have to say about their day to day experiences.
Skills to foster.
By the end of the assessment you will be expected to show you can develop the following skills;
The ability to communicate with children, their families and professionals;
An awareness of child development and the particular needs of foster children;
A willingness to work with the care plan for the child including working with their families;
The ability to keep accurate records;
A willingness to attend meetings, support groups and training courses.
Step four – Fostering Panel.
At the end of the assessment, you will be invited to attend the agency’s Fostering Panel when your approval will be discussed and a decision made. Read more about the Panel.
Some children and young people will need very experienced and specialist trained foster carers because of their difficulties or abuse, and these will be more complicated to care for. However, some are relieved to be placed in care because of the abuse they have suffered, and settle in quickly.
Many children say later that they felt being fostered was a better option than remaining with their parents, and many felt their foster carers worked hard to help them.
Caring for a child
Foster caring can be challenging and demanding for all the family, and the family values such as respect, honesty, care and love can be tested by foster children who may have grown and developed with distorted family values such as, dishonesty, disrespect and non-caring parents.
In the beginning, life in an ‘ordinary’ family will be a new, challenging experience for most foster children.
Meeting a child’s needs
Settling children and young people into a new foster home has differences but many similarities to settling any child. Children like to be called their favourite name, they want people to know what they like doing, their likes and dislikes and that any special religious or cultural preferences will be respected.
Foster carers need to ask a child about their dummy, teddy or a comfort blanket. The clothes children arrive in are important and should never be criticised or thrown away, they are a significant part of a child’s identity and an important physical link with their family.
Often foster carers need to make some changes in their day to day life to meet the needs of each child; a four year old will have very different needs to a fourteen year old girl or boy, and they will of course have different likes and dislikes.
Flexibility is a must for foster carers, and how flexible the fostering family can be, will determine the number and different types of placements the foster carer can look after.