Have you been thinking providing foster care – that you would like to make a real difference to the lives of disadvantaged children and young people? To play a key role in their upbringing and keep them safe from harm?
If the answer is yes on both counts, then you can consider making that all important first call. Things to bear in mind: fostering is caring for a child or young person who, for whatever reason, can no longer remain with their family. This might only be for a short period. Sadly, increasing numbers of children are being taken into care as their families have become dysfunctional. There may be issues involving alcohol or substance misuse – or simple neglect – that means the environment is no longer safe for a child.
Foster carers come from all backgrounds with a wide variety of life experiences. What they have in common is an interest in youngsters, combined with the desire to help them overcome the problems that brought them into foster care.
When thinking about becoming a foster carer, thought should be given to the different categories of placements that would fit with you, and your family circumstances. There are types of placements that you might prefer such as teenagers, babies, parent and child, asylum seekers or special needs children. Placements can be made on a short term or long term basis. Foster carers can also offer respite which means a child may come into their care for a limited period to give their main carers a break. Applicants can be approved for all of these categories or choose one only. The wider your approval to foster is, the more choice there will be as you will have a higher number of placements offered to you.
The assessment process takes on average 4 to 6 months. This allows the necessary checks to be made and references to be obtained. During this period you will be visited at home. The purpose of this is to check that you have a spare room for a child and that the environment is a safe one. If there are found to be risks – these could include loose stair carpet – they will be highlighted. You will also be given a medical check to confirm you are fit to foster. There will be a short introductory course – usually three days – on foster care to attend. This is called ‘Skills to Foster’. A DBS check will also be made. This is to ensure that there is nothing in the background of a person that could make them a risk to vulnerable groups. The last stage is to be interviewed by the agency Panel who will advise the ADM (Agency Decision Maker) who makes the final decision regarding your approval.
From this point you can expect to be sent referrals to consider. You will be allocated a social worker. You will also start being informed about other training courses that are available. The agency will also provide guidance on record keeping which is an important part of providing foster care. Support will be available twenty four hours a day when you have a placement.
The demands of fostering.
The training, combined with your own unique life experiences, come together to enable you to offer stability and security for a ‘looked after’ child. When a child comes into your care, they could be feeling a whole range of emotions. But most of all, they want to feel the same as other youngsters – that they are not at fault or a burden. They want to be treated with fairness, and have the opportunity to stay in touch with their family if judged appropriate.
To be successful, a foster carer will understand the challenge fostering presents. Situations can be emotionally charged and a carer must be able to demonstrate empathy. But there is a balance to be maintained – part of giving a child security means setting setting boundaries. This can be difficult as; despite being what they need, observing rules may be something entirely unfamiliar. Many children come into care from chaotic situations and may have never known anything different. A foster carer must have the resilience and understanding to recognise change does not happen overnight. There will always be plenty of support available as a foster carer is part of the Team Around The Child (TAC).
Children coming into a new environment will feel confused and disorientated. The challenge of being a foster carer is to create a place where a child feels safe – somewhere to start feeling able to trust – maybe for the first time ever. If you, as a foster carer, can accomplish this, you will see why others find fostering so rewarding. It is the opportunity to literally transform a young life by holding out the possibility of a future characterised by achievement and success.
Therapeutic foster care.
It is a sad fact that recent figures available reveal the primary reason for a child being placed in foster care was abuse or neglect – 65%. This means that children come into care traumatised. There is a real need for people to be trained to provide therapeutic foster care. There is a section on the website that describes in detail what this involves.
More information is always freely available about all aspects of foster care on 020 8427 3355 or, alternatively, our National foster care line 0330 311 2845. You can also apply online and at the same time arrange a call back at a time convenient to you.
Rainbow fostering news stories can be viewed at:
Call for details of our incentive scheme: to show how much we value the dedication of our foster carers, we pay a £500 bonus if a carer can provide us with a referral for an applicant who becomes ‘Approved’ to foster and then accepts their first placement.
If you are currently an approved foster carer, then give consideration to transferring to Rainbow Fostering. Because we have been established twenty years, you can rely on our experience to make the process a smooth, easy and efficient. Transferring with a child in placement means you could be eligible for a special bonus. Call for details of this – as well as the other advantages of joining our vibrant, caring community.