Being a foster carer involves providing a stable family environment for a foster child or young adult who is unable to live with their own family at the time while encouraging the young person to develop and flourish in your care.
Foster care differs from adoption, as looking after these children and young adults remains the legal responsibility of the local authority and/or their birth parents.
Foster care is incredibly important for providing young people with happiness and the chance of a successful future and Fostering to Inspire offers comprehensive advice and support to foster carers.
Anyone can apply to foster, but we do have a basic criteria:
- Over 21 years
- Have a spare room
- Have time and flexibility to commit
- British citizen
- We do not discriminate on the grounds of age, sexuality, gender, race or religion.
There is no upper age limit to foster. As part of the assessment you will be asked to undergo a medical to ensure you are fit and healthy.
From your enquiry, we will then undertake a home visit and make a decision about inviting you to apply to Fostering to Inspire. Once in receipt of your completed application form and checks and references information, an assessing social worker will undertake your assessment. This report will be shared with our fostering panel who makes a recommendation regarding your suitability to foster.
The whole process takes on average 6 months to complete.
If you have been living together for over 2 years, yes you will both go through the assessment process as your partner/spouse will be deemed to be a secondary carer.
We would prefer there to be a full-time primary carer in each fostering household as the fostering task involves a caring element as well an ability to attend training and statutory meetings. There may however be exceptions in relation to part-time work if you are able to demonstrate a degree of flexibility and an ability to prioritise the needs of fostered children.
We are obliged by law to carry out a number of checks and references during your assessment period. These include:
- Disclosure and Barring Service (formally a CRB) on all members of the household over 16 years
- A medical
- A safeguarding check with local authorities
- Employment and Education
- Personal References
We pay generous and competitive fostering allowances. The allowance for each child includes a reward element as well as a component that provides for the care of the child or young person.
Allowances vary from placement to placement and in relation to complexity of need. We would be happy to discuss further with you during your enquiry.
Foster carers are self-employed and as a result do not receive an allowance during gaps in placements.
During your assessment your assessing social worker will work with you on deciding the types of fostering, and the ages and types of children and young people that would best match your current circumstances. We encourage our foster carers to be as open and flexible. We have an expectation our carers should have an aspiration to care for younger children and older young people.
We put a lot of time, effort and thought into matching the right children/young person with the right foster carers. You will be involved in this process and we shall make the decision together.
Fostering involves the whole family and it is important your children are involved in the application and assessment process so they also know what to expect from fostering. Your assessing social worker will meet with them to discuss their thoughts and feelings about fostering and to answer any questions that they may have.
Once you are approved as a foster carer, your children will have the opportunity to access support from your supervising social worker and our Care Leaver Mentors to help them through any challenges that they face due to being part of a fostering family.
They will additionally be encouraged to take part in plenty of events and activities designed to build positive relationships and have fun.
Whether you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, we believe that fostering a child or young person shouldn’t be an issue. With Fostering to Inspire, our main focus is to find stable and loving carers who can offer their support, advice and aid in the development of their foster child without limits on gender or sexual bias. More information on this can be found here.
The Fostering Network, the UK’s leading fostering charity, has posted a blog from an experienced foster carer titled “Agency v Local Authority?” The author advises readers to “contact both their LA and also a couple of well-established local fostering agencies and then make up their minds.” At Fostering to Inspire, you will find an exceptional level of fostering advice and ongoing support that underpins our work as a leading independent fostering agency.
Foster carers can provide the benefit of a secure loving family environment to children and young adults that are vulnerable and in need of support and guidance at a difficult stage in their lives.
It may be that they have suffered neglect, abuse or unhappiness within their own family through sickness, breakdown in relationships or many other reasons. Foster carers can help them to restore their confidence and optimism for the future and Fostering to Inspire is there to assist them in doing so.
Fostering a child or young adult is a life-changing commitment which can be challenging but also intensely rewarding. If you are able and willing to offer a secure and loving home to a vulnerable young person, then we would love to hear from you and will support you every step of the way, whether you are a first-time foster carer or already have fostering experience.
A good starting point would be to decide what type of fostering you would like to do. There are several different types of foster care such as short-term, long-term, emergency, short break care and support care. A further consideration is whether you have the capacity to look after children with additional needs, such as those with disabilities. If you would like to talk through which option is best for you, then please get in contact with us.
In terms of financial support, being a foster carer is a highly valued profession and Fostering to Inspire offers generous and competitive fostering allowances. In practical terms we offer continued advice and support, with the benefit of the Mockingbird Family Programme we have adopted providing both expert guidance and the friendly assistance of our network of foster carers.