1. What qualifications do I need to be of Foster Carer?
You do not need any specific qualifications for the Foster Carer? It will obviously help if you have raised children of your own and all have worked with children professionally.
'Families@FamilyCare Ltd.' provides a wide range of training for all of our applicants to fostering and this training is ongoing after you have been approved. We are registered with City and Guilds and therefore all the qualifications you obtain will be publicly recognised. For some types of fostering e.g. children with disabilities we will provide specialist training customised to the needs of a particular child. We do insist that Foster Carers continue with their training and success in doing so is reflected in the fees which they are paid. If a couple are approved as Foster Carers then one of the two will be identified as the primary carer and will be required to undertake more training than their partner.
2. I am single can I still be a Foster Carer?
Yes. Foster Carers are in many senses a reflection of parents and carers in society and as such some will be single carers and others will be 'part' of a couple. As with any single carer it will be important that you have a good support network in addition to the extensive support that you will receive from 'Families@FamilyCare Ltd.' All of this can and will be discussed through the assessment process.
3. I am in a same-sex relationship does this mean we can't become Foster Carers?
Not at all. As in the last answer Foster Carers reflect society as a whole. Many children are very successfully raised by gay and lesbian couples. Again, as part of the assessment process and your ongoing support from Families@FamilyCare we will talk to you about the possible existence of other gender role models within your support network as sometimes it is important for looked after children -- who have the same needs as any other child -- to experience positive relationships with both male and female adults..
4. How long does it take to be approved of the Foster Carer?
It is difficult to be precise in answering this question. Generally speaking we would anticipate that the assessment would last for somewhere between four and six months. As it is a complex process it is always possible that this period could be extended somewhat. For example, one of the checks we have to do is with the Criminal Records Bureau; in the case of somebody who has lived abroad for some time we also have to establish that whilst doing so they were of good character. As you will imagine this can sometimes take quite a time to complete.
5. What's the difference between fostering for the local authority and fostering for an independent fostering agency?
In terms of the fostering task there is no significant difference between fostering for a local authority Children's Services Department and an independent fostering agency. Local authorities tend to approach independent agencies for slightly more complex placements although even this is not always true as there is currently a shortage of foster placements. All the children placed with 'Families@FamilyCare Ltd.' are looked after by a local authority and as such they reserve the right to examine our practice rigorously to ensure that children are safe and likely to thrive.
6. How do I choose which independent fostering agency to apply to?
Frankly this is not something upon which we should offer advice. There are however certain factors which you might like to consider. You may only apply to and be approved by one fostering agency (whether that be the local authority service or an independent fostering agency). Therefore the choice is an important one. We always recommend that prospective Foster Carers look at the most recent inspection report on all the agencies that they are considering. These reports are undertaken by OFSTED and as such are objective. You might also wish to consider the location of the particular agency relative to your home and whether or not agencies have a good reputation with placing local authorities.
7. What happens if I'm approved the Foster carer and then I have a problem with the child in the middle of the night or at the weekend
Families@FamilyCare operate an out of hours service which will ensure that whatever time of day and night you make a call there will be somebody there to answer. In a significant majority of cases our Foster Carers simply need some reassurance or advice over the telephone however we are more than willing to visit the Foster home if this is the Foster Carers wish.
8. I have children of my own can I still apply to be a Foster Carer?
Yes. Obviously consideration will need to be given to ensuring that your children are not upset or distressed by you becoming Foster Carers/ a Foster Carer. Equally we must satisfy ourselves that any child placed with you does not feel as though they are "second best". We try to incorporate applicants Foster Carers own children in a whole assessment process. We also strongly recommend that carers should not consider fostering a child whose age is within approximately 2 years of any birth children.
9. Do I get paid if I don't have a child placed with me?
No. 'Families@FamilyCare Ltd.' do not pay what is often called a retainer between placements. This is in part because we are a not-for-profit company and are extremely prudent about how we spend our money. Additionally, however, it is extremely rare for our Foster Carers not to have a placement. However this is a consideration in your decision about which agency to apply for. We would advise potential applicants also to consider the fees paid when you do have a child in placement as it is sometimes suggested that agencies paying a retainer generally pay a lower fee for children in placement.
10. Do I need a driving licence for the Foster carer?
Not necessarily. We take a view that our Foster Carers will become one of the most significant parts of a child's life. As such we feel Foster Carers should be responsible, for example, for taking children to and from school or medical appointments. If this can be accommodated on public transport then well and good however there is no doubt that access to a car or friend who is willing to give lifts is an advantage.
11. Do I have to give up work?
Generally speaking we would expect one carer to be available to offer full-time care to a child placed. Clearly in the case of single carers this would almost certainly lead to a necessity to give up work. However this is not an absolute if for example you work at home or have a flexible employer then it may well be that you are able to respond to "routine" emergency situations such as a child being sick at school or even having a period of time when they were not registered in the school.
12. Can I be specific about the type of child I wish to Foster?
Within reason yes. The assessment process will impart identify the "type" of child with whom you feel most comfortable. This may relate, for example, to their gender, ethnicity, whether disabled or not and you will be approved within certain "categories". Having said this it is not at all unusual as Foster Carers become more experienced that they elect to "expand their approval categories".
13. Can I be a part-time Foster Carer?
Yes. Part-time Foster Carers, sometimes called respite carers play a vital role in the 'Families@FamilyCare Ltd.' service. These are people who perhaps work full-time and either don't wish to or are not in a position to consider giving up work. However they may feel that they would like to be approved and offer breaks to other Foster Carers at weekends or in holiday periods. The training and support offered to part-time carers exactly mirrors that to full-time carers.
14. Do I need to own my own home?
No. It does not matter if you own or rent your home as long as your rent or mortgage payments are up to date.
15. Do I need any special qualifications?
No you don't. In many ways your
life experiences, parenting skills and the qualities you have developed
as a result are much more important.
16. I've got another question.......?
Please call us we will be happy to give you an answer
If there are any other questions that you want to ask, please feel free to contact us at Families@FamilyCare on 01772 425 540 (North West) or 01939 211030 (Midlands).