Category Archives: Us

Becoming a Foster Parent – Help & Support  – Eastern Fostering Services

  • …during the application process.

    You’ll get to know us pretty well and we’ll get to know you too. An assessor will visit you in your home and complete the infamous Form F (the application form to foster). This process is not only a fact finding mission for us, a way for us to understand your motivations, your expectations and your hopes for fostering, it’s also a means for applicants to understand what fostering entails: its rewards and challenges.

  • …preparation for fostering.

    We’ll be there to get you fully prepared to foster. As part of the application process we’ll provide Skills to Foster training. Together, we’ll identify any other training needs you might have. We’ll also always be on the end of the phone to answer any of your questions.

  • …ongoing training.

    Each year we’ll work together to put in place a Personal Development Programme (PDP). Obviously we’ll be in regular contact with you so you’ll be able to tell us what you would find helpful, what you need further support in, any areas of fostering that you’d like to know more about. Typically, we hold some sort of training every month.

    In the first year, you’ll need to complete your Training Standards and Development (TSD) and we’ll help you through this.

  • …the EFS community

    When you foster with EFS, you become part of the family. You’ll be invited to our monthly coffee mornings and our Carer Support Groups. These events are a real opportunity to meet with the other carers and swap tips, discuss problems and solutions or just offload! Our carers really value these social gatherings, which have a real open and honest atmosphere. Nothing is taboo there! We also hold events for the children and carers (and their families) twice yearly. These are always great fun and contain at least one element of ritual humiliation for EFS staff.

  • …supporting you in fostering.

    Once you become an approved foster carer with EFS, you’ll be allocated a Supervising Social Worker who’ll be responsible for supporting you and the child you’re looking after. She/he will be available on the phone for you whenever you need and we have an out of hours phone service should you need someone in the dead of night!

  • …more support

    As well as the regular contact, our social workers will have a monthly supervision with you to make sure the child is doing well and that you’re being supported properly. We have a monthly clinic for carers run by an experienced psychotherapist which all carers can make use of should they want to. We also provide direct therapeutic support to all children who need it. We know how important this is for the children but it’s also a great means of sharing the management of children’s needs and our carers really value this.

What our carers think…

…about our training

The relaxed atmosphere, course content, values, experiences of others on the course made it more
informative and thought provoking

Good discussion and engagement by all participants.

Very interesting and well presented…..a lovely relaxed atmosphere as always

…about our care and support

Everyone is so friendly….it’s great the way we are encouraged to share our experiences with other carers

If something isn’t working , then EFS helps me think of different ways of approaching a problem

Fostering’s not always easy, but my social worker helps me put things in perspective when the going gets tough

They are an amazing agency that, truly, put the needs of the children first. I’ve been with them for 18 months now and could not state even one fault

Local Authorities do value the amazing work from the independent sector and appreciate that many smaller agencies deliver great outcomes for young people without inflated fees to the public purse, EFS you are a credit to the system!

…about our recruitment process

Our assessor was polite and reliable. She put us at ease straight away . She was very knowledgeable about the process and we felt well prepared when we went to Panel

The Panel were very friendly. The experience was far less daunting than we expected

The 5 steps to becoming a Foster Carer

Becoming a Foster Carer

Becoming a Foster Carer in 5 simple steps

  1. Express your interest. You can contact us, call us on 01206 299775 or visit one of our regular coffee mornings.
  2. We’ll arrange a time to talk that best suits you
  3. We’ll visit you in your home and go through the process of becoming a foster carer
  4. You’ll take part in three training sessions where we help you to develop the skill to become a foster carer. We’ll also run background checks and take up references and arrange an assessment on your ability to foster
  5. An independent panel will consider your application to become a foster carer

and Eastern Fostering Services will be with you every step of the way!

Where do we cover?

EFS provide foster care in Essex and Suffolk and we are just starting to branch out into Cambridgeshire. If you live in these counties and are interested in fostering, get in touch and we’ll give you all the info you’ll need. We list below some of the places we already have carers and where we have children needing a good match. Don’t worry if you don’t see your town here; we’re looking for carers in all areas.


  • Aldeburgh
  • Beecles
  • Bury St Edmunds
  • Capel St Mary
  • Felixstowe
  • Hadleigh
  • Ipswich
  • Lowestoft
  • Needham Market
  • Saxmundham
  • Stowmarket
  • Sudbury
  • Wickham Market
  • Woodbridge


  • Braintree
  • Chelmsford
  • Clacton
  • Colchester
  • Frinton
  • Halstead
  • Harwich
  • Manningtree
  • Maldon
  • Mersea
  • Tiptree
  • Witham
  • Wivenhoe


  • Ely
  • St Ives
  • Huntingdon
  • Peterborough
  • Cambridge
  • Many surrounding villages
Map showing the towns in Suffolk and Essex

Fostering Frequently Asked Questions

Thinking of fostering but not sure where to begin?

We know you’ll have a load of questions. We’ve answered some of the most common ones below.

If you’ve got more questions for us – just call us on 01206 299775.

Do I have what it takes to become a foster carer?

If you’re a caring person, with common sense and the ability to stick at it once you’ve committed, then you’re on the right track! A sense of humour really helps too!

Life hasn’t always gone smoothly for me – is this a problem?

No, far from it! We want people from all walks of life, with a whole range of life experiences and who can use these to support a child or young person. We’ve seen amazing success stories in situations where a carer’s past experiences have really spoken straight to the child and where, as a result, the child has felt understood and supported.

Do I need to own my own house?

No. As long as you have secure tenancy on your property, we’re happy. We’re interested in the home not the bricks and mortar.

Do I need a spare bedroom?

Yes, every child must have his or her own room.

Do I need to be a parent already?

No, but some experience of children is a must.

Am I too young/too old?

What’s in a number? You can bring something unique however old or young you are; we want you all! So as long as you’re at least 21, are in good health and can relate well to children, we’re not going to worry about your age.

Do I need to be married?

No, you don’t need to be married, in a civil partnership or have a partner. If you’re in a relationship though, you need to have lived together for at least 2 years.

Can I still be employed?

 Yes. You don’t have to give up your job, as long as you can make sure you’re available for children’s meetings and foster carer training sessions. And don’t forget we’re here to help you work out how to manage this.

Would I be paid to foster a child?

You sure would. EFS will pay you a minimum of £300 per week for each child you’re fostering.

Do I have to agree to foster for all ages and for boys and girls?

No. We spend a lot of time making sure that we put the right children with the right carers and vice versa. We want stability for these children after all. You can tell us what age, what gender, what specific needs you do or don’t want to consider. It’s worth you knowing though, that your views might change as you go through the training. That’s fine. We’ll always respect your feelings.

What about my own family’s needs?

Whenever a child is matched with a family, we always go through a process of understanding and accommodating the needs of all parties concerned. This is a two-way process. We’ll share information with you and then we’ll seek your views and opinions as to how we can help and support the child.

We’ll never pressurise our carers to accept a child that they don’t feel entirely comfortable fostering. In fact we’ll do all we can to make sure that the matches we’ve made don’t break down and the best way of doing this is to make sound matches in the first place.

What challenges can I expect?

We won’t lie to you. There will be challenges. Those children from chaotic backgrounds will have trouble coming to terms with their new situation and may have “learned strategies” for coping with their problems. These can often seem baffling, inappropriate and self-defeating. The child or young person may see you as the immediate solution to their problems but it’s just as likely they’ll make you work for their trust. At the same time, you’ll be helping the child to develop new behaviours and responses to problems.

That said, with the right motivation, support and training these challenges are a mountain you CAN climb. We’ll be with you every step of the way. And we can promise you the rewards that come with bringing a positive change to a troubled young life are unique and well worth it all!

What support will there be for me and my family?

We really want to continue to provide one of the lowest social worker to carer ratios in the fostering sector. This means we can safely say that support, guidance and advice will always be on hand and not just during normal office hours but via our carer hotline which is available 24/7 and manned by someone you’ll have got to know.

Our social workers are all highly experienced, with backgrounds including specialist expertise in helping parents and foster carers find ways to work with troubled behaviours.

We can also help practically in those situations where you have to be in 2 places at once! For example taking a child to the doctor’s or denist’s etc.

And if things do get too much, we’ll always look at ways to help you take a break.

What training will I need to do?

Before you become an approved carer, you’ll be asked to attend a “Skills to Foster” training course, which normally lasts for 3 days. Throughout the assessment period, we’ll work with you to see whether there’s other training you’d like or would benefit from, to ensure you’re comfortable in your new role.

Once you’re approved, there are a number of training courses that you’ll need to attend in that first year. We’re also very hot on providing regular training as the need crops up. We’ll listen to what you’re saying about your training needs and we’ll deliver.

We’ll also support you to complete the TSD Standards for Carers (the government Training, Support and Development Standards).

Can you take a holiday or break from fostering?

Of course! Carers often support a child or young person for a limited time, maybe because social services are exploring adoption or looking to return the child to his or her birth parent(s) after difficulty has been resolved.

When a child does move on, we may well encourage you to take a break and recharge your batteries. It’s always good to have time to reflect.

There may also be times when foster carers want or need to take a longer break. That’s ok too. We want to support you to give your best and we know that sometimes means stepping back for a bit. All we’d ask is that you keep in touch so we can check how you’re doing.

What vetting takes place before I can be considered?

We carry out background checks to make sure there’s nothing in your past that would automatically stop you from being a foster carer (e.g. a criminal offence against a child). We also do an assessment to explore your suitability to foster. This isn’t us making judgements on you but a process we go through together and which will help you truly decide whether fostering is for you.

What professionals will I have to deal with and what are their roles?

Every child belongs to a Local Authority (LA) who are ultimately responsible for their care.

EFS are a preferred provider of fostering services for Suffolk, Essex, Thurrock and Cambridgeshire. We have also supported Children from other counties including Peterborough and Cornwall!. Once we’re approached by the LA to see whether we can find the right carer for a certain child, we’ll then see what matches we can make. When we find the right EFS family for a child, that child will already have an LA Social Worker who remains the person responsible for them. We’ll match you with one of our EFS Social Workers, whose role is to support the child, support you and your family and to act as advocate in our dealings with the LA. We work with the LA to make sure we get the best possible outcome for the child.

There may often be several other professionals involved in the life of the child or young person depending on their needs. These can be: Educational Psychologists, Counsellors, Therapists, Access to Education Workers etc. Don’t worry! We’ll help you understand how and where everyone fits in!

We hope you found this Question and Answer section helpful and you are still interested in fostering but If you haven’t found an answer to a question, then please do not hesitate to: complete our Fostering Enquiry Form (see Downloads), contact us, drop us an email, or give us a call. You can also find out more about fostering by checking out our Fostering and EFS, Statement of Purpose, and Reading List pages, all in our Services section.

Back to top

Our Promise

In one hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove, but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.
Forest E Witcraft

At EFS our word is our all. We do all that we can to stick to our promises.

We promise to:

  • Put the children and young people first. Full stop!
  • Value the skills and attributes our carers bring to the table.
  • Be a constant support to the children and carers for the whole journey. We’re in it with you, every step of the way.
  • Provide ongoing training and support to our foster carers and their families.
  • Be there on the end of the phone 24/7!

Why Choose Our Fostering Agency

Why Choose Eastern Fostering Services as your Fostering Agency? At Eastern Fostering Services, we believe we have something special. We’re a small, close knit team and we really (really!) care about what we do. We suppose most foster agencies say that, so here are the things we do that show we’re different.

A fostering agency with you know at the end of the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

As part of the process of becoming a carer with our Fostering Agency, you’ll get to know us all pretty well. Our carers find it very reassuring to know that someone they know and trust is at the end of the phone at all times if they need them.

A wealth of experience

We’re proud to say that our carer support team has invaluable experience in relevant fields such as social work, child protection and working to support children and parents. As a fosrting agency team we are all united in our passion and commitment to securing positive outcomes for our children. Our carers tell us that they find the knowledge, wisdom and passion shown by the team to be vital in supporting them as carers.

A fostering agency who listen and act

We know what it’s like to foster a child and that sometimes you need things to happen yesterday! We can’t work miracles but we do our best to respond to situations quickly. This means we’ll often make home visits at very short notice if that’s what our children and carers need us to do.

Work with the children

Our team provide direct and varied therapeutic work with the children to help them tackle specific problems they might have. This work is important to the child first and foremost but is also another way of supporting the carers indirectly.

Take the time to make sure each child is found the right home

At Eastern Fostering Services, we know how catastrophic it can be when children have to move to different families time and time again. We know that each time this happens, the child’s feelings of rejection and self-blame grow. We work hard to help these children not to make things worse for them! So we take our time, and because we know our carers so well, we’re able to make well-informed matches giving our children and families the best chance for success.

Support our carers

As well as the regular contact our carers have with us through their Eastern Fostering Services social worker, we offer loads of additional support. We hold a monthly clinic run by an experienced Psychotherapist which all carers can make use of. We’re also really proud of our little Eastern Fostering Services community of carers and staff who meet regularly at Carer Support Groups or at our coffee mornings to share what’s going on, swap ideas on problem resolution, sometimes just to offload but always, always to have a good laugh!

Think outside the box to find ways to support our families

Here at Eastern Fostering Services we’re always thinking up new ways that we can support our families. We speak to you about your needs, scratch our heads and come up with new and fantatsic ways to help. Because we are passionate about what we do, we can be creative and responsive unlike an other fostering agency.

But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what one of our carers had to say to Lorraine Kelly.