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The Roadmap to Fostering

12th April, 2021

Here at FosterCare UK we have succeeded in carrying on as ‘normal’ as much as possible. We have worked at home like most of the country (I mean, world!) and managed to keep providing excellent support to our foster carers and, children and young people in their care. Of course, we have had to take precautions and carry out risk assessments as to how we do this, but with the use of technology and following the government guidelines when we have had to visit homes, we have made it work!

The need for foster carers is high, even in the best of times.  Today, amid the difficult times stemming from the Coronavirus pandemic, many children are still in need of foster families and we are continually looking to find more foster carers to join our team. We get on average over 300 referrals a week nationwide of children needing loving and safe homes and there are thousands of children already in care in the Kent, London and Sussex areas. We continue to have referrals about children who have been neglected, abused or whose parents are just unable to care for them. It doesn’t matter how many referrals we see; we still get affected by what we read, and it saddens the whole team at FosterCare UK when we just don’t have enough foster carers to be able to place every child in a safe and caring home.

During the pandemic, what has struck us most is how so many people would dearly like to become a foster carer. We have dozens of conversations each week and many of these go on to our assessment process and ultimately become approved as foster carers.

Within the last year however, it has just not been the right time for so many people. They have had Covid themselves, or family members have been ill. So many of us have had to home-school our own children while juggling work and the thought of supporting another child has just been too much. Many people have been furloughed and have felt financially insecure and so have not wanted to take the leap into fostering – as much as they would love to. Everyone has a story! This has meant that we haven’t brought as many new foster carers into our family as we would have liked (and needed, since just as many children are being referred to us.)

As we find spring blossoming and the roadmap out of lockdown beginning to happen, we are having some different conversations. Maybe right now IS the right time to become a foster carer?

To become a foster carer, the first step is to enquire and have a chat to us. At this stage we will discuss some basic things like whether you have a spare bedroom and the time to foster; you can ask us all your questions too – the whole process is very much a two-way thing. If we both agree that its right to move on to the next step then we arrange a home visit.

For the last year, our ‘home visits’ have all been remote which has worked really well. We have a more detailed chat about a prospective foster carer’s situation and have a tour of the home. As we move out of lockdown, we are more able to do these visits back out and in peoples’ homes, but we will still be able to do them virtually at this early stage, if people would rather.

It’s at this point both you and we decide whether its right for you to go into an assessment. The assessment process takes on average 4-6 months, but it can be quicker. This is where you will meet regularly with a Social Worker (a mix of virtual meetings and in your home) who will go into your motivation for becoming a foster carer and go into a lot of depth about your family and history to make sure you are the right kind of person. You will learn a lot about fostering and about yourself during this process. It’s always worth remembering that if, throughout this process, anything changes and you feel fostering isn’t right for you, you can walk away.

Once your assessment is complete, you will attend panel. This is not as scary as it sounds! Your social worker will present you to a team of people from a variety of backgrounds who will have read a report on you and will ask you some questions about why you want to foster. All being well, after panel, you will be recommended to become a foster carer. And then comes the exciting part!

So, as we are getting our lives slowly back, now could be the time to chat to us about becoming a foster carer. The need for foster carers can get overlooked in discussions of how our communities have been affected by Covid but the need is still there, and it’s very likely that after all this passes, the demand for foster carers will go up, not down.  That’s why, if someone has been thinking about fostering, this is exactly the right time to let us know.

Laura Mullane, Group Recruitment Manager

 

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