You’ve approached an agency (preferably ours); provided some basic information about your circumstances put the phone down and are now wondering what your initial home visit will entail…At Rainbow Fostering, we never forget that the decision to even think about fostering children or young people is a huge one. As the country urgently needs new families to consider fostering, we work very hard to handle any enquiry with great care and sensitivity. We know that waiting for an Initial Home Visit can seem daunting; after all you have agreed to invite a relative stranger into your home and then answer a whole series of questions about yourself, your life experiences and daily circumstances. So before providing an idea about what the Initial Home Visit entails, we would just like to take this opportunity to say just how much we respect the people who apply to us. For a start, we know that to take such a step requires a great deal of unselfish thought: the people who contact us very clearly want to give something back to society – is there anything more impressive than wanting to pick up an often seriously damaged young life then help give that child a future?
So the day has arrived and you have just spent the last two hours hoovering! The point is that we don’t expect people to have model homes. A home is for living in, feeling relaxed and secure: just think, if a young child arrives at home that doesn’t have a ‘thing out of place’, it is not the most relaxing experience. We really are not looking for perfect homes – we just need to be sure any child will be offered a warm welcoming environment. A place where they can start to relax and, most importantly, get to know you.
A foster child will need their own room where they can sleep, play and do their homework – if that’s where they prefer to do it. The room needs to be comfortable, warm and have adequate storage space. So during the home visit, we pay attention to the room you are making available for a foster child. We then ask that you show us around the rest of the house and garden. This is because we are looking to make a safety check so we can give advice on things that are usually fairly basic: when people are not used to having children around – especially very young children – it is understandable some things might not be seen as carrying a risk. So simple recommendations we make are that sharp objects such as knives or scissors are always put away. The same goes for cleaning products such as bleach – preferably kept in a cupboard with a child resistant lock. Medicines can also pose a risk, so these should also be kept locked away. If there are large areas of glass, then safety glass should be fitted. For advice www.rospa.com/home–safety/advice/general/
We will want to be sure that any animal does not present a risk to a child or young person. Dogs, particularly, have to be assessed and with certain breeds of larger dog we will ask for a vets report.
That said, many of our foster carers are dog owners and some have found that this can really help a foster child to settle into a new foster placement. As far as other animals are concerned, we look to see they are kept hygienically.
Remember: the main part of the Initial Home Visit is simply about us having a friendly and informal chat with you. Our aim is to leave you with an understanding of what fostering is all about. We want you to be able to feel free to ask any questions you might have. Although there is an acute shortage of foster carers, there is absolutely no pressure from us. We simply wish to learn the reasons you have for wanting to foster children. Then we can help you be sure that fostering is the right thing for you.
Before leaving, we will take a series of pictures – kitchen, bathroom, WC, living room, dining room and also of the garden. This is because if you become an approved foster carer we create a small booklet for a child and the pictures show them where they will be going. This can help them feel more relaxed before they arrive.
One important point: we often find that when we meet with people – after having a chat, they want to progress their application as quickly as possible. To do, this please make sure you have the following documents available for us to verify your identity: driving licence, passport, National Insurance Number (card or tax document); utility bill or council tax bill (but not a mobile phone bill).
We can then start the process of getting your DBS through as quickly as possible.
And finally, we are very proud of the fact that many of our carers have been with us for many years. From the very start, we do our best to provide close support for those choosing to step into the world of fostering with Rainbow. Ours is a close knit family and we are keen to add to it.
And the good news at the end of this fostering rainbow…we are now looking into setting up a small digital music/production resource at Rainbow as so many of our children are budding musicians…watch this space.