How much do I get paid as a foster carer? Fostering is a "professional" role for which foster carers are paid a fee. An Independent Fostering Agency pays a weekly fee of approximately £400 for a foster child. This may be linked to the child's needs or the professional expertise the foster carer has.
Foster carers are not required to own their own homes; many foster carers rent their properties. It is important to be financially stable and not be considering moving during the assessment process.
You can apply to become a foster carer if you are married, divorced, widowed or in a same sex relationship. Single carers can foster a child. There are many children who would benefit from the one to one attention a single carer can give.
There is a great deal of evidence to show that smoking damages not only the health of the smoker, but that of those around them. Agencies have a duty to consider all possible risks when looking for a suitable placement for a vulnerable foster child. Agencies will not place children under 5 or children with respiratory conditions (e.g. asthma) in a household where family members smoke.
People with a criminal conviction or caution for specific offences against children or sexual offences against adults cannot foster. If you have a criminal record you should be honest and disclose this. The agency will then be able to advise you as to whether it will affect your application. A criminal records bureau check will be completed as part of the assessment process.
Working full time will not necessarily prevent you from becoming a foster carer; this would depend on the age and the needs of the foster child. Many agencies have individual policies on working and fostering and expect the foster child to be your overriding concern in the same way it would be for a birth child. If your employment meant that you could not meet these expectations then it would be unlikely that you would be approved as a foster carer.
Foster carers are expected to be available to care for children, attend meetings, training, support groups, and to promote and support contact between a child and their family. It is important that you ask your chosen agency about their policy on working and foster caring.
This really depends on what type of foster placements you decide to offer. With emergency placements the placement may only last days/ weeks. The foster child will stay with you whilst the social worker looks for a longer term placement. Short term foster placements mean that a child will stay with you for anything up to 2 years before hopefully returning to their birth families. For those children who cannot return home they can remain in a long term foster placement until they are able to live independently, usually until the age of 18. These children could potentially live as part of your family for many years. Some foster carers offer respite care, in this case a child may spend a set number of hours with you each week or stay for a period of time to allow the family or another foster family a break such as an annual holiday.
Fostering is not right for everyone and as a couple you would need to be assessed together. For fostering to be successful, All family members need to be consulted and in agreement that it is right for them. Fostering agencies are unlikely to proceed unless everyone is agreed.
You can foster if you have your own family; research suggests that foster children do better in placements where the other children are not too close in age as this reduces the need to compete for attention. The agency you choose will discuss the most suitable age range for you as part of the initial assessment process.
When adults make a decision to become foster carers they also make the decision for their children to become part of a family that fosters. Fostering is a very significant change in anyone’s life, even more so for the children within the family.
Initially many children are very enthusiastic about the idea. During the course of the assessment, if they are of sufficient understanding, the Social Worker will talk to them about the idea of a foster child coming to stay with them. It is often surprising how little time prospective foster carers spend discussing their idea to foster with their children.
Our advice is to talk to them both before and regularly throughout the application process, and to make a point of having frequent discussions about how being a foster family may be affecting you all and how current problems or difficulties can be addressed. Don’t be surprised if children change from being very keen to foster, to hating it, and then back again, particularly in the early stages.
This would depend very much on individual circumstances. The main concern is that you are physically fit enough to meet the demands of fostering a child. For this reason all potential carers undergo a thorough medical with their GP as part of the assessment process. The agency will also discuss your disability in detail with you and look at the impact your disability has on your lifestyle (if any) and how it may impact on giving physical and emotional support to a vulnerable child.
Having a health condition should not necessarily prevent you from becoming a foster carer. All potential foster carers should be both mentally and physically fit enough for the demands of caring for a child/ young person and for this reason all applicants will be required to undergo a thorough medical with their GP. If you have a long term condition such as diabetes or depression for example, the agency will need to give serious consideration to the impact these may have on your ability to meet the needs of the foster child. As medical conditions affect people very differently it is important to discuss this with the agency to ensure they have all the relevant facts when making a decision.
Fertility treatment can be an emotionally difficult experience and if this hasn’t been successful you may not be ready to give fostering the careful consideration it needs. It may be more appropriate to leave a period of time from 6 months to 1 year to fully come to terms with the emotional effects of your experience and perhaps even consider some counselling. Even if you consider that fostering is not right for you at this time, it may be something you want to consider again in the future.
You can apply to become a foster carer if one of your children has a disability. During the assessment the agency will discuss how you would balance the needs of a foster child with the needs of your own child and what the impact could be on your own child of having other children in their home.
Your faith or religion should not affect your application to foster. When placing children agencies consider which foster placement can best meet their needs and this includes religious needs. If a child was placed with you who did not share your beliefs or you theirs, as a foster carer you would be required to support them to observe their religion and to attend their place of worship.
Having pets would not normally prevent you from becoming a foster carer unless they are known to be dangerous, certain breeds of dogs for example.
However, every animal is different and your pets will be assessed as part of the process of becoming a foster carer, taking into account factors such as their temperament and behaviour. Pets are often a very positive influence, helping to build confidence in children. However, some children may be fearful of animals or even suffer with allergies and all these factors must be considered. Many agencies do risk assessment on the pets in your home using trained professionals.
Many children in foster care do not have English as a first language and being placed in a home where their first language is spoken can be very beneficial for them. However, you will need an adequate level of spoken and written English to be able to communicate with professionals, support children’s education and to make notes and keep records.
There is no legal minimum age to become a foster carer (although most fostering services have their own minimum age policy such as over 21 or even over 25), fostering service providers expect people to be mature enough to work with the complex problems that children needing fostering are likely to have.
There is no maximum age limit and many older people make excellent carers, bringing a wealth of skills and experience to the task. The important factor is not your age but your physical and mental health; all applicants undergo a thorough medical regardless of age. As long as there is no long- term health issues many carers continue to foster past the age of 65.
Being a foster carer is about meeting a foster child’s needs and that includes social, emotional, religious and cultural - ethnic needs. A child’s well being is linked to who they are and culture and identity can often be a large part of this. There is research to suggest that children do better in families which reflect their ethnic and cultural background as closely as possible. However, this may not always be possible and a placement with a family of a different ethnic background may on balance be the best one for the child when all factors are considered. All placements need to be considered on an individual basis.
Most agencies will require you to have a spare room. This is to ensure that a foster child has the space and privacy they need. The exception is babies who can usually share a foster carer’s bedroom up to a certain age, usually around 12 to 18 months. There are types of foster care that do not require a child to live full time with you such as, short break or respite care. You could have a child spend a few hours with you each week to give families some respite. These types of arrangements may be suitable for you if you don’t have a spare room.
There is no cost for being assessed by a UK fostering agency. The assessment process is very detailed and generally takes around 4-6 months to be completed; it may take longer in some cases.
Once you have chosen an agency you will be asked to complete an application pack. Once the agency has made sure you meet the basic minimum requirements to foster they will arrange an initial visit.
The Initial Visit will be an opportunity to have a conversation about your family life and expectations of becoming a foster carer. It is also a chance for you to ask any questions you may have, or raise any anxieties about fostering. The social worker will also explain the assessment process to you so you are aware of how detailed it will be. After this visit the decision will be made by the agency whether to proceed to a Form F assessment.
The Form F assessment process is a very detailed, time-consuming and at times intrusive process for any prospective carer. As an approved foster carer you will be working with vulnerable children and young people, and as such it is essential that the process is completed in such a way as to ensure that only the people with the right skills, experience and understanding are approved.
The completion of a Form F Assessment generally takes about 4 months, but some assessments may prove more complex than others and take longer.
The Form F Assessment is a lengthy report written by a qualified social worker from the agency, in partnership with you. It will look at your current family situation, childhood experiences, relationships and background. It is important to understand that the purpose of the assessment is to allow the assessing social worker to form a professional judgement on your abilities to meet the needs of looked after children and provide a suitable caring, safe and nurturing environment. The assessment is very much a two way process, and you will need to be prepared to take an active role in undertaking and completing it.
Once the assessment has been completed you will invited to attend the Fostering Panel, this is where the decision on you becoming a foster carer will be formally made.
The panel includes staff from the fostering agency and Independent Panel Members appointed from a variety of sources including current foster carers from another agency or local authority, a person who has previously been fostered and other people with relevant professional experience. The Panel chair is someone with considerable experience of the needs of children and young people, fostering and is independent of the assessing agency. You will be will be supported by the social worker who completed your assessment.
Providing the Panel recommends your approval, you will be registered as an approved foster carer with the Fostering Agency within a few days.
Coming into foster care can be a very difficult experience for children. They may be upset about leaving their family or have spent time living in a children’s home and this may make it difficult for them to settle with you. Given time and support children generally settle into their foster placements although because the children might have experienced a great deal of upheaval in their lives, they will probably display more challenging behaviour than children without the same histories. This may present itself as challenging physical behaviour, self harm, and drug or alcohol issues. As a foster carer you need to have the patience and understanding to support children in addressing these problems and this may not be an easy task!
Foster children need well matched placements with foster carers who will meet their needs. The assessment process will identify your skills and strengths and this will help to identify the children you would be most suited to fostering. Before your application is approved, you and the agency will have agreed on the type of child who will fit in best with you and your family. This includes the age, gender, ethnicity and religion of potential foster children. When a child is identified for a placement with your family, you and the agency will decide if you are able to meet the child’s needs.
In England the maximum number of children in any one foster placement is 3. If a foster carer has more than 3 children in a placement then their local authority must obtain an exemption. Currently there is no limit on the number of children that can be placed with a foster carer in Scotland.
It is bound to take children time to settle in a new placement and some will fit in with you and your family easier than others. It may take a little time for everyone to adjust to the situation. If you feel things are not working, then it is important that you talk with your social worker. Often extra training or support from your agency will resolve problems but sometimes it is best for everyone concerned to consider an alternative placement.
Every placement is discussed with the potential foster carers and it is ultimately the carer’s decision to agree that the placement(s) is made. The agency will share as much information as possible about their history and background to allow you to make the best decision for you and your family. Sometimes children come into foster care with little information, especially in an emergency situation. If this is the case, the agency social workers will work quickly to obtain all the information you need.
Fostering provides a stable family life for children who cannot live with their own families. It is usually a temporary situation and once the problems which brought them into foster care are resolved, they will return home. Some children are not able to return to their own families and they may stay in a foster placement until they are able to live independently, usually aged 18.
Fostering is different from adoption because when a child is in foster care, the child’s parents or the local authority still have legal responsibility for them.
However, when a child is adopted, all legal responsibility for the child passes to the adoptive family, as though the child had been born into that family.
Previous financial problems should not prevent you from applying to be a foster carer. You will need to show that you are able to provide for your own family without relying on these and that you are financially stable enough to provide a stable home for a child.
Local authorities are legally responsible for all children who come into care whether they are in Local Authority foster placements or independent fostering agency placements. The expectation upon the foster carers to provide a safe and stable home for the child is exactly the same whether you choose Local Authority or an Independent fostering agency. There are some differences in the fees you can expect to receive, however, with IFA’s, fees are generally higher.
All prospective foster carers attend preparation training which includes an understanding of the legal framework relating to looked after children, meeting young people’s care needs, working in partnership with birth families and professionals and the impact of fostering on themselves and their families. In addition, there is mandatory training in child protection, policies and procedures, caring for a young person who has experienced sexual abuse and safe care practices. Agencies will offer you on-going training throughout your time as a foster carer to ensure that your skills and knowledge are kept up to date.
Foster caring can be a stressful undertaking and whichever agency you choose should offer you intensive support through a dedicated supervising social worker. Your agency social worker will be a specialist in fostering and family placements and have a real understanding of issues which might arise when caring for a child in your own home. Youre social worker will visit you regularly and will be your point of contact with the agency.
In addition to your supervising social worker, you will also have access to one of the duty social workers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This guarantees that there will always be someone available to you during stressful times or in an emergency.
Agencies may also offer respite breaks, where your foster child will spend a short time with another foster family; or even a support worker who takes the foster child on activities during the week. When you identify which agency is right for you, these are questions you can ask them.
The agency will keep you informed at all stages of the assessment process but if your application is not successful the agency will be able to give you advice regarding any changes you may need to make to increase your chances of being approved. For example; you may need more experience in child care or need to make some changes to your lifestyle so that you have sufficient time to dedicate to fostering. Try not to let it put you off from applying again at a later stage.
The assessment process is very in depth and will require you to share information about your childhood, life experiences, skills as a parent, your present and past relationships, family life, and employment history. In addition you and all the people in the house over 16 years of age will be expected to undergo a Criminal Records Bureau check and Local Authority checks to determine whether you and your family are known to them and to ensure there have been no concerns raised with regard to your own parenting skills.
You will be required to provide references from your employer and two or three personal references. These must be from people who have known you for over 3 years and who are not related to you. If you are applying as a couple, these referees must know you both. You will be required to undergo a medical examination with your GP.
As part of the assessment process, interviews will be completed with all the adults in the household and with your children, including those who no longer live at home.
This can be an overwhelming task especially if you have only just taken the decision to be a foster carer. There are free agency matching services on the internet, Google the search term - fostering careers.
There are occasions where the relationship between the foster carer and the agency breaks down. The decision to move from your current agency is a decision that you as a foster carer have every right to make and you should not feel pressured by your current agency to remain with them. If you are considering transferring search the internet for help, use the search term - change fostering agency.
On average, Independent Fostering Agencies pay a basic weekly fostering allowance and fee of £420 per week for all ages of children. Some IFAs also pay foster carer enhanced payments of up to double their standard rate, dependent on the needs of the child, such as :
The weekly allowance for each child fostered is intended to cover living costs such as food, clothes, basic travel and household bills. There is also a reward element for the foster carer in recognition of the demands of the fostering task.