Foster care applicants should think of the initial home visit as the most important first step in the fostering process. It will in all probability be the first time an applicant has met with a recruitment officer or social worker. This will be the occasion when someone who has been considering fostering will get an idea of the reality. And they then will want to be in a position to make the most informed decision about proceeding with their application to foster. Preparation before the visit can pay dividends as an applicant will be better able to engage around the many issues that fostering involves. It can help them to draw up a list off questions or specific topics they want to focus on; fostering siblings for example. Fostering agencies put a lot of time and effort into the creation and management of their websites. This means they have a considerable amount of information. In the case of Rainbow, we are always adding content to our news and blog sections. This is so everyone who engages with us through the medium of our website can find a wealth of information about issues that impact on fostering. More and more fostering is being seen as a career. It’s not just about putting a roof over the head of a child who has nowhere to go. There has been a vigorous debate recently as to whether it should be regarded as a profession. Many think it should be – especially as therapeutic fostering calls for additional training and the ability to work with clinicians and psychologists. This is what is required to care effectively for youngsters with complex needs. The other different kinds of foster care agencies offer – caring for disabled children, mother and child as well as looking after sibling groups – all require foster carers to have increasing levels of skills. This all means that even before the initial home visit, there is the opportunity to pick up a great deal of information about fostering from the website.
No one expects you to become an expert, but taking the time to explore the website will give an understanding of fostering, who needs it and why. Reading the information will enable you to make a note of any areas that you might need to be clarified. This kind of preparation on your part will facilitate a more productive initial home visit. That’s not to say other question might not occur afterwards – that’s fine – keep a note of these to raise with the recruitment officer or social worker who visited you.
Subjects that will be discussed.
During the home visit, we will be assessing your ability to communicate effectively in English. We have many foster carers for whom English is not their first language, so it’s important you do not feel too pressurised if this applies to you. And please remember the whole idea of the home visit is to have an informal relaxed discussion. These are some areas we need to discuss that are standard. Accommodation is one: we will make an assessment measured against health and safety standards. We will need to know if you own or rent the property as well as if you have lodgers or visitors who stay from time to time. Some people have to make changes to sleeping arrangements for other family members so that a spare room is available for a foster child. Such changes should always be discussed beforehand with family members.
The time you have available for fostering is an important area. This will cover the nature of your employment – part-time hours worked or and likely changes to your working hours. We need to understand this as it will indicate to us how you will be able to meet our requirements for flexibility and availability to foster. Good preparation will involve considering how supportive an employer might be if you become a foster carer. It might be possible for working hours to be reduced or there may be a chance to arrange flexible working. Our preference is alway for there to be a full-time foster carer at home. In the case of a joint application, it may the second carer can adjust their hours and pattern of work. At the initial home visit it is always important to have a clear idea of the time you will have available for the fostering task.
A foster carers support network. We will want to know who you can call upon if there is an emergency. Do you have friends or relatives willing to offer emotional and practical support when needed? It’s a good idea to prepare for the home visit by having such information ready.
If you have your own birth children it is essential that your intention to foster has been discussed at an age-appropriate level and their opinions and views sought. Fostering brings significant changes to family life and ever family member needs to be considered.
Your lifestyle – including any health issues – will also be discussed. If you or any other family member has a significant health issue or is taking regular medication, such matters will need to be mentioned. Smoking: there are strict rules around fostering and smoking. If fostering young children, part of the health and safety considerations will mean checking that medicines are stored safely.
Relationships: no two families are alike and we will need to know your marital status together with any extended family and support networks. It may seem intrusive but it is important that we have details of ex-partners or a new partner. Part of the assessment process will require interviews with significant family members. This may include ex-partners where some contact may be in place. Again, this might seem difficult but we have to be sure that any foster child coming into a carer’s home is not going to be put at risk.
Social and recreational pursuits: some of our applicants have already had professional experience of working with children and young people. Many foster carers who have been teachers, youth workers or been run the police service. This kind of experience is valuable – though not essential – and effective preparation would be to give us a detailed picture of the life experiences you feel will make you ah effective foster carer.
Before the initial home visit, it will be a good idea to have given some thought to the age range, gender and ethnicity of the children or young people you could look after. This is why it’s a good idea to explore our website in detail. You might want to consider fostering siblings or be a parent and child carer. All our foster carers will be trained to foster from 0 to 18 but we will always work to best meet your preferences.
Rainbow is a diverse community and we will discuss your views on being part of a fostering agency that has carers from many different ethnic backgrounds as well as people from the LGBT+ community.
The application process.
If, following your initial home visit, you decide fostering is for you, we will need you to complete all the application documents. Stage 1 checks are a vital part of your assessment. We have to be satisfied that we have undertaken all the relevant checks references to manage your application and support your assessment.
The list below details the checks and references that will be sought once we accept your completed application form and the decision made to proceed with your Form F:
Maintaining a safe home environment is always important. Awareness and preparation matter – visit https://www.rospa.com/Home-Safety for advice and guidance.
What makes a fostering partnership with Rainbow so special?
Foster care can mean many different things to different people. Caring for children requires special skills: there are many agencies, but we take pride in the way we work in partnership with our foster carers to ensure the welfare of our children. Our children at Rainbow are not adopted, they are fostered. The difference: adoptive parents have full legal responsibility for a child. Foster care and adoption are not the same as a child who is fostered is the legal responsibility of their ‘corporate parent’ – the Local Authority in the area they came into care from.
We build the parenting skills of our carers so they can deal with the emotional demands a child may place on them. Children in foster care come in all shapes and sizes – children with disabilities need foster parents as well as youngsters who have experienced neglect and/or abuse.
The foster care system can seem a confusing place for people when they first apply. A foster family with Rainbow will always be able to count upon our commitment to providing the best support and training. This means we offer plenty of respite care. We have a highly successful recruitment record as we understand that to become a foster parent will need plenty of ongoing support and guidance. At the moment there are many more foster families needed to provide foster homes – some 8,000 additional families to provide love, security and advocacy for those children and young people they care for.
Becoming a foster parent with Rainbow could well be one of the most rewarding things you have ever done. And the professional career opportunities we offer – with our ongoing free training packages – means you could be earning up to £40,000 per annum as a fully trained therapeutic foster carer. If you develop the expertise to foster teenagers, sibling groups or manage parent and child placements, your earnings will rise as you become more experienced.
Some of the children we have do go for adoption if a long term placement has worked out well for all concerned. Adoptive parents are also in demand across the country.
Start an amazing journey by being a foster carer with Rainbow.
We are looking to recruit new foster carers in London, Hampshire, Birmingham and Manchester right now. Rainbow likes to think anyone fostering with Rainbow can develop their career with us in any direction they like. That might mean looking after sibling groups, teenagers or a disabled child with complex needs. We know foster parents – just like children, come in all shapes, sizes and varieties. This means we have foster parents who are single/divorced/married – as well as couples who live together – with or without children. Rainbow Fostering also has same-sex couples fostering children and young people. Our LGBT+ foster carers make a tremendous contribution to our community of carers here at Rainbow.
Visit these pages of ours for more useful information: http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/legislation/ and http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/foster-love-reading/