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!
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?
- Life hasn't always gone smoothly for me – is this a problem?
- Do I need to own my own house?
- Do I need a spare bedroom?
- Do I need to be a parent already?
- Am I too young/too old?
- Do I need to be married?
- Can I still be employed?
- Would I be paid to foster a child?
- Do I have to agree to foster all ages and both boys and girls?
- What about my own family's needs?
- What challenges can I expect?
- What support will there be for me and my family?
- What training will I need to do?
- Can you take a holiday or break from fostering?
- What vetting takes place before I can be considered?
- What professionals will I have to deal with and what are their roles?
Do I have what it takes to become a foster carer?
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 andthe 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 both Suffolk and Essex LAs. 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.