Fostering babies and toddlers in the UK
Applying to foster babies
Most agencies take applications from people wanting to foster babies, however due to the particular vulnerability and specialist requirements of this type of foster care, most successful applicants will have agreed to extend their fostering approval ages to include a wider age range, so they can get some experience of fostering and to develop an understanding of how fostering works and all that is expected of foster carers.
Baby and toddler fostering.
In the UK babies and toddlers are the children most often fostered, be returned to care and to stay in care. Figures show that up to 20 percent of admissions are infants.
There are babies who have been placed in care voluntarily by their main carer(s). Some babies have suffered neglect and been exposed to drugs or alcohol pre birth, they are often premature, underweight and more likely than other children to have serious medical problems, disabilities and developmental delays.
Foster care is a particularly important service because it goes a long way in meeting the secure attachment needs that all children have, which more than likely helps the child’s life chances.
When babies and toddlers are placed in care, the council’s care plan is usually to work towards the return to their birth family, long term (permanent) fostering or adoption.
Fostering a baby means you will have to be available 24 hours a day, the same as all parents. However you might be required to provide special medical treatment which means undertaking specialist training before the baby arrives.
Foster carer training
UK Agencies provide training courses for all of the children’s developmental stages and training about saying goodbye and letting go, is particularly important for the fostering family to help cope with the feelings of loss when the baby moves on.
Contact with birth parents
Foster carers are usually required to work with the birth parents, especially in the arrangements for regular contact which is often in your own home or at a family centre.
Contact might be once to seven times a week, supervised by you or the council and can be difficult at times. Contact often causes disruption to infants’ daily routines which makes your job to give settled care more difficult. However, when all goes well, you will be rewarded by helping the birth parent and baby develop their relationship and move on to a successful future together.
You will be responsible for taking the child to and from contact arrangements, meetings and medical visits so it’s preferable that the you have transport available.
Criteria to apply
Requirements needed to apply to be assessed as a foster carer:
- You need to be over 21, however there is no age limit for foster carers, age is taken into account in assessing your ability to meet the demands of caring for children.
- Most Fostering Agencies will not consider your application if you have children under 5 years of age.
- A spare bedroom.
- Enough space in your home for everyone to live comfortably.
- Most agencies have a policy that excludes anyone who smokes from fostering under fives.
- Your close family needs to be able to provide support and family members in your household need to agree with your decision to apply to foster.
- One member of the household has to be able to read and write in English.
- You have to agree not to use any type of physical punishment against children.
- You will be required to attend a training course as part of the assessment process.
What can stop your assessment
- If Police checks find that anyone in the household has been convicted or cautioned for an offence under Section 1 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956, Section 1 (1) Indecency with Children Act 1960 or Schedule 4 of the 2000 Criminal Justice and Court Services Act.
- Agencies can decide on some violent offences, but any offences by an adult committed against a juvenile will stop the assessment.
- If you have suffered a close bereavement; such as a parent, partner, child, sibling or miscarriage in the last six months.
- Most agencies will not consider your application or continue your assessment application if you become pregnant during assessment.
Apply for Fostering Online.
Apply online and be contacted by Fostering Agencies who will let you know about their vacancies, the application process and fostering allowance.
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