New to Foster Care?

If you’re new to the idea of fostering, thanks for stopping by to find out more. There are thousands of children in need of foster care and more than 68,000 children already living with foster carers across the UK.

What is foster care?

Foster care is a way of providing a safe, family environment when a child is unable to live with their own parents or family. There are many reasons for a child to be taken into care, including:

  • The child is at risk – this could be from abuse either physical, emotional or sexual
  • The parents are unable to take care of children – this could be due to neglect, either from emotional perspective, medical or neglecting their basic needs
  • There may be problems at home – this could refer to incarceration, illness, death or abandonment

Often children have been through serious trauma or neglect before they are removed from their homes. That’s why it’s so important that foster carers can provide a safe, stable environment for them to live in either temporarily or more long term.

There are currently 300 referrals per week and 15,000 per year – with only 0.5% of those being supported to placement. Find out more information on why you should become a foster carer from our detailed guide.

For more information on why become a foster carer, click here.

What does a foster carer do?

The main role of a foster carer is to provide a stable, safe routine for the child or children they are looking after. This can refer to helping a child to go to school, eat well, take part in activities or hobbies, and feel happy about themselves.

Once a child starts to settle into a foster carer’s home, they may form a bond with their fostering family. The child’s behaviour may begin to change, thanks to the impact of have a loving family environment where they feel safe.

As well as supporting a child to go to school, a foster carer will also attend meetings with regard to the child’s wellbeing with social workers and others involved in the fostering process. The foster carer is at the centre of a professional team meeting the individual needs of the looked after child.

What are the fostering requirements?

  • Spare bedroom – it’s important to have a spare bedroom for any young person coming into your home. A youngster who is going through a really tough time needs their own ‘safe space’ when they are placed in a new home.
  • A good support network – this is vital to anyone thinking of fostering. There will be tough times ahead so having friends and family to lean on is important.
  • Work – if you are working, your job has to be flexible or you may need to cut down your hours or give up work altogether. This normally depends on the needs of the children you foster. If you foster an infant you will need to provide care 24/7 whereas fostering older children or teenagers could allow you to work if they are in school all day. Either way, a placement is never guaranteed and you will not be paid a fostering allowance whilst waiting for a child to match your home.
  • Age – you also need to be at least 21 years of age to foster.

You also need to be resilient and ready for a challenge if you expect to foster. It’s not an easy process and some children may not understand why they are in foster care and not with their own parents. Having a sense of humour always helps, and genuine compassion will always go a long way.

Who will you foster?

Fostered children come from a range of ages, backgrounds, ethnicities and parts of the world. They may come alone or in a sibling group. They may even come into care with their young baby – this is known as parent and child fostering and we can offer specialist training for this.

Ages of foster children can range from 0 – 18. It’s important for anyone seriously considering fostering to consider caring for 8 – 16 year olds who are in crisis. Younger children do come into the care of independent fostering agencies, although they are normally placed in sibling groups. Local authorities have long lists of people willing to take younger solo children and new carers with independent agencies or local authorities will normally be asked to be flexible about the age range of children they are supporting.

How long do foster placements last?

When a child is removed from their family home it can be planned, but it’s usually due to an emergency. Most of the children referred to us are ‘emergency’ or ‘short-term’, however this can be anything up to 2 years. Many short-term placements become ‘long-term’ where a child is with you until they reach independence.

  • Around 65,000 children are in care in England on any one day, with around 75% in foster care*.
  • There is a shortage of approximately 10,000 foster carers in the UK*.
  • All foster carers are provided with a professional allowance to allow them to commit to the fostering task full time
  • Independent foster agencies and Local Authorities are inspected by Ofsted
  • Many children are placed due to emergencies, and very little may be known about the child by social services
  • Any child fostered, requires their own bedroom, siblings may be able to share a larger bedroom.

*Source – Fostering Network

What to read next?

If this helpful guide has inspired you to learn more about fostering, why not learn about how much foster parents get paid? Alternatively, find out more about our foster care training and support we offer here at Capstone.

If you are new to the idea of fostering, we’d expect that you have lots of questions at the moment. Our expert team is on hand to answer any queries you have and find out if fostering is right for you, your family and your home. Find out why to choose us, or contact us via our simple enquiry form.

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