All posts by Lucy Stevens

Foster carers needed in Essex, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire

Local children need local foster carers

In the UK, there are now more children than ever in need of foster carers. Children in Essex, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire are no exception.

Our children need local foster carers who can keep them in education, in local communities and near to the people who are important to them.

Which children need foster carers?

There are children in every age group who are in need of a nurturing foster carer. From young sibling groups, teenagers, mother and babies, children with additional needs and unaccompanied children. The list goes on. By far the most typical children are sibling groups and young people between the ages of 10 to 16.

What does it take to foster?

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need qualifications to foster. We look for more general qualities such as empathy, warmth, resilience and passion. In fact, we produced a short film outlining the qualities foster carers should have. You can view the film here.

What are you waiting for?

It could be that you are the perfect match for a child in need. If you want to know more about fostering and you live in Essex, Suffolk or Cambridgeshire, call us on 01206 299775, email us at info@easternfosteringservices.com or follow us on Facebook.

Come and meet us!

You can come and meet the Eastern Fostering Services team and our carers at one of our fostering coffee mornings. Details of all events can be found on our Facebook page. And don’t forget we’ve put loads of information about fostering on our website, so do take a look.

Local children need local Foster Carers

Fostering shortfall

According to the Fostering Network, children in the East of England need approximately 700 additional foster carers. Moreover these children are paying a hefty price for the shortfall.

The importance of being local

Many children in foster care have a powerful need to be near the familiar. Often, school or friendship groups might be the only positive thing in their lives. Therefore, when children are taken away from both family and friends or school they are devastated.

“We believe that children in foster care deserve a sensitive matching with carers,” says Eleanor Vanner of Eastern Fostering Services. “However, we are finding it increasingly hard to match children because of a lack of carers. This means we are unable to help many children which is heart-breaking.”

The aim

Professionals working in fostering want to provide stable, long-term families who can help children reach their potential. They want to work towards a plan for that child. For example, the child might be working towards reunification with their birth family. Or they may be looking for long term fostering until independence. The smaller the pool of local carers, the more difficult it becomes to see the plan through.

The reality

“Children in Essex, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire are crying out for local carers,” says Lucy Stevens, Foster Carer. “Indeed, they need carers who can offer them the continuity of positive things and the sense of stability that brings.”

What qualities do foster carers need?

Foster carers need to have a spare room available for fostering. Moreover they need an understanding of the challenges that children in foster care face. Foster carers do not need qualifications.

“Indeed we would much rather see kindness, compassion and empathy,” says Eleanor. “If you feel you would like to help children and make a difference to society as a whole, fostering is a good place to start.”

How to get in touch?

If you are interested in fostering and live in Essex, Suffolk or Cambridgeshire, email us at info@easternfosteringservices.com or contact us via Facebook.

What qualifications do you need to be a foster carer?

The short answer to the question of what qualifications foster carers need is none!

So what do we look for in foster carers?

Whilst foster carers do not need formal qualifications, there are qualities that we look for. Foster carers need to be resilient. During the fostering assessment resilience is looked at and foster carers can cite their life experience to evidence this.

Foster carers need to have emotional intelligence, empathy and kindness. Because many looked after children have specific emotional needs. But don’t worry if you don’t know a lot about the ins and outs of fostering. Foster carers undergo training as part of their assessment.

Whilst it is helpful to have experience of children and child care, even this is not a must. Undoubtedly what we look for is someone who has a passion to make a difference. Having empathy and a desire to positively change the outcomes for children is the most important thing.

A spare room to foster

The only thing we have to insist on is that foster carers have a spare room available for fostering. For some people this is a barrier to fostering. We understand that this is frustrating for some people. Nonetheless it is important to have enough space to enable long term plans to be made for looked after children.

I want to foster. What do I do now?

Email us at info@easternfosteringservices.com. We can send you information about fostering and can organise a visit to you in your home.

Fostering is difficult. However, it is also one of the most rewarding and valuable things that a person can do.

If you are thinking of fostering, contact Eastern Fostering Services today.

Do I get paid to foster?

Fostering finances

Do I get paid to foster?

When it comes to fostering, money is an emotive topic of conversation. Nonetheless, people ask “Do I get paid to foster?” and in order to answer the questions we get about finances, it’s a topic we’d like to address.

We’d like to make it clear that good foster carers are motivated by a desire to make a positive difference in the lives of children. The best foster carers seek to nurture, love and advocate for the children in their care. In our experience, very few carers are ever motivated by money and it is very important to us that they are not.

However, one cannot escape the fact that it costs money to raise a child and it is for this reason that Local Authorities pay a fostering allowance to foster carers.

The money foster carers receive will cover the cost of caring for a child. It includes the cost of food, clothing, pocket money, savings for the child, personal items such as toys or toiletries. It will include extra-curricular activities, school uniform and equipment, school meals, leisure and sports activities. It is expected to cover other incremental household costs associated with caring for additional children, such as utilities.

Many people want and need to know how much money they will receive for fostering; it helps them decide whether fostering is a viable option for them. The answer to this is that the amount will vary and is dependent on the needs of the individual child.

For example, a carer who looks after children with profound care needs would receive a higher allowance. This is  because there might be significant costs associated with providing the required level of care. Children and young people whose care needs are less challenging might require less round-the-clock care and a lower care-related expenditure and therefore carers looking after these children would expect a lower allowance.

It is worth saying that Fostering Providers will differ in what allowance they pay foster carers. Instead of solely asking, “do I get paid to foster?”, we would urge prospective carers to look at the whole package offered to them by Fostering Providers. Whilst we would expect no foster carer to be out of pocket when caring for a child, when it comes to fostering there are some things that money can’t buy. Many other things are vital to ensure stable, positive and fruitful fostering experiences. When looking for a fostering provider, we recommend you check:

1.      How child focused the fostering provider is

Talk to fostering providers and gauge how invested they are in the children they support. Their policies and activities should be child-centric and should promote stable, nurturing and successful fostering experiences for carers and children alike.

2.      What support you will be given

Does the provider offer 24/7 support? Is the team small enough to get to know you, your family and the child(ren) you care for?

3.      What additional support is offered?

Does the provider offer services to promote emotional wellbeing and resilience amongst its carers? Is there an active and supportive fostering community who can meet regularly to support and encourage one another? Is there a sound Social Worker to carer ratio, ensuring carers and their families can be seamlessly supported and listened to?

4.      What training and development opportunities exist?

A good fostering provider will provide varied, relevant and tailored training and development for their carers. It should be easy for carers to communicate their training needs and aspirations and fostering providers should be able to demonstrate that they are responsive. 

If you would like to talk to us about fostering, including the finances, please contact us at info@easternfosteringservices.com or call us on 01206 299775.

Alternatively, pop into one of our events. A full list of events can be found at www/facebook.com/EasternFosteringServices/events

Fostering Information Event dates for your diary

Fostering Information Events

We hold regular events for people who are seeking information about fostering. Often we have some of our carers with us who are more than happy to share their experiences of fostering.

When you are looking into fostering it is important that you do as much fact finding as possible. Equally, it’s vital that you get a feel for how well the agency will support you.

When is the nearest fostering event to me?

Keep an eye on our Facebook events page for future events around Essex, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Equally, let us know you’d be interested in dropping in and we can arrange something with you!

www.facebook.com/EasternFosteringServices/events

Mother and baby fostering

When people think of fostering, they often think of babies and young children. Not many people know that you can foster young mothers (or fathers) and their babies.

What is Mother and baby fostering?

There are some young parents who, for various reasons, may be ill-equipped for parenting. Indeed, they may have experienced chaotic, inconsistent parenting themselves as children and not have a positive role model from whom to se. Some young people are victims of sexual exploitation and may not be in a position to keep their new baby safe. Some young parents may have learning difficulties. Therefore, they need additional support to bond with and care for their children. In some cases, new parents have to overcome mental health, domestic violence, abuse, addiction or attachment issues.

Many people seem to think that babies are routinely taken from their mothers. Increasingly, foster carers have an opportunity to help babies stay with their birth mothers.

What are the challenges of mother and baby fostering?

Carers fostering young mothers and babies have to strike a balance. Consequently, they walk a line between facilitating and intervening. Between guiding and stepping in.

Foster carers need to be observant but not intrusive. They need to ensure the welfare of the baby whilst also being concerned with the well-being of the mother. Foster carers need to judge without being judgemental.

Fostering mothers and babies is not easy. Many young mothers do not have a positive experience of being parented. Consequently they do not have knowledge to draw on. Therefore foster carers must provide guidance at a time when mothers are feeling defensive.

What does successful mother and baby fostering look like?

When it works, mother and baby fostering offers something exceptionally precious for children. Ideally we believe children should be with their birth parents where they are able to be kept safe and loved. Fostering mothers gives them the chance to prove they can care for their babies. In addition, it gives young mothers an opportunity to regain custody of other children they may have previously lost. When successful foster carers are able to interrupt the generational cycle of going into care.

Want to know more about fostering mothers and babies?

If you want to know more about fostering babies and their young mums, email us at info@easternfosteringservices.com, like our Facebook page or call us on 01206 299775.

 

 

 

 

 

The Fostering Assessment – why do we need to carry out checks?

Eastern Fostering Services wants to recruit foster carers who can meet the individual needs of children; who can provide them with a safe and nurturing environment in which to grow. When they apply, all prospective foster carers undergo a fostering assessment which takes on average 4-6 months. 

Included in the fostering assessment

·        An initial home visit.

·        A medical report – carried out by the GP and paid for by EFS.

·        At least 3 personal references.

·        Identity checks including an enhanced DBS.

·        Previous partner references.

·        Health and Safety assessments.

·        6-10 home visits and interviews including some with birth children and other household members.

·        A full Coram/BAAF form F assessment detailing the qualities, competences and suitability to become foster carers.

·        Skills to foster training.

Why does the fostering assessment take so long?

People often ask why the fostering assessment takes so long and why so many checks are involved. Foster carers are charged with looking after some of the most vulnerable children in our society. We need to make sure that children are going to be safe, secure and given the best quality care. The fostering assessment process is also about preparing prospective carers for the task ahead. Applicants are given time, space and guidance in considering what their strengths and weaknesses might be. During the fostering assessment we prepare them for the reality of fostering. Being aware of what you might feel, how you might respond and understanding your core motivations are all things you will draw on again and again during your fostering career.

What does the fostering assessment contain?

It is important that the fostering assessment report (the Form F) presents a faithful account of who you are. The assessor will write about how your experiences have shaped you. They will explain what your motivations are, how well prepared you are and what you are going to bring to fostering. As such it needs to be in-depth. The checks that are carried out are important as a means of establishing you are who you say you are. We will check whether you have anything in your history that could prevent you fostering. There is very little that could stop you but violent crimes and crimes against children would certainly rule you out. We would also want to know what your employers say about you and whether close friends and relatives would support your application.

Sometimes people worry about the previous partner checks. These are necessary for previous partners with whom you have had children, been married or where the relationship is classed as significant. We would only not carry out checks where there is evidence of domestic violence or other criminal activity on behalf of the partner whereby approaching them might put the applicant at risk or if the whereabouts of the partner is unknown. We are always mindful of the fact that by their very nature, ex-relationships can be tricky and full of nuance and we always use our judgement in these circumstances. We typically find that previous partners are supportive of applications to foster. Where this is not the case, we would use the assessment to explore why this might be.

The fostering assessment is an opportunity to showcase you; to show your skills, attributes and motivations. The form F document should present a rounded picture of who you are, the experiences that have shaped you and how you might use these experiences to empathise, nurture and advocate for children. It is not designed to catch you out, pull you apart or look for reasons not to approve you – quite the opposite!

What do our foster carers say about the fostering assessment?

One of our recently approved carers said, “I found the fostering assessment to be a really good experience. It’s not often you get to reflect on your life and the person you’ve become. It was empowering to realise how many relevant skills and attributes I had and I learned so much about fostering. I am now putting this to good use with the young lad we’ve had placed with us.”

If you have further questions on the assessment or indeed any aspect of fostering, please post your comments on Facebook, message us or email us at info@easternfosteringservices.com. Or of course, you can drop into one of our information events or informal coffee mornings. Visit www.facebook.com/EasternFosteringServices/events for a full list of upcoming events.

Do I get paid to be a foster carer?

When it comes to fostering, money is an emotive and controversial topic of conversation. Nonetheless, in the interest of answering the questions we get about finances, it is a topic we’d like to address.

Good foster carers are always motivated by a desire to make a positive difference in the lives of children. The best foster carers seek to nurture, love and advocate for the children in their care. In our experience, very few carers are ever motivated by financial gain and it is very important to us that they are not.

However, one cannot escape the fact that it costs money to raise a child. It is for this reason that Local Authorities pay a fostering allowance to foster carers.

The money foster carers receive will cover the cost of caring for a child. It includes the cost of food, clothing, pocket money, savings for the child, personal items such as toys or toileteries. It will include extra-curricular activities, school uniform and equipment, school meals, lesiure and sports activities. It is expected to cover other incremental household costs associated with caring for additional children, such as utilities.

Many people want and need to know how much money they will receive for fostering so that they can decide whether it is a viable option for them. The answer to this is that the amount will vary and is dependent on the needs of the individual child.

For example, a carer who looks after children with profound care needs would receive a higher allowance. This is because there might be significant costs associated with providing the required level of care. Children and young people whose care needs are less challenging might require less round-the-clock care and a lower care-related expenditure and therefore carers looking after these children would expect a lower allowance.

It is worth saying that Fostering Providers will differ in what allowance they pay foster carers. We would strongly urge prospective carers to look at the whole package offered to them by Fostering Providers. Whilst we would expect no foster carer to be out of pocket when caring for a child, when it comes to fostering there are some things that money can’t buy and which are vital to ensure stable, positive and fruitful fostering experiences. When looking for a fostering provider, we recommend you check:

1.      How child focused the fostering provider is – talk to fostering providers and gauge how invested they are in the children they support. Their policies and activities should be child-centric and should promote stable, nurturing and successful fostering experiences for carers and children alike.

2.      What support you will be given: does the provider offer 24/7 support? Is the team small enough to get to know you, your family and the child you care for?

3.      What additional support is offered: does the provider offer services to promote emotional wellbeing and resilience amongst its carers? Is there an active and supportive fostering community who can meet regularly to support and encourage one another? Is there a sound Social Worker to carer ratio, ensuring carers and their families can be seamlessly supported and listened to?

4.      What training and development opportunities exist – a good fostering provider will provide varied, relevant and tailored training and development for their carers. It should be easy for carers to communicate their training needs and aspirations and fostering providers should be able to demonstrate that they are responsive.

 

If you would like to talk to us about any aspect of fostering, including the finances, please contact us at info@easternfosteringservices.com or call us on 01206 299775.

Alternatively, pop into one of our events. Our next drop-in session will be on Thursday 19th July from 10.30-12.30 at our offices in East Bergholt, Suffolk. A full list of events can be found at www/facebook.com/EasternFosteringServices/events

Fostering and the spare room

Do I need a spare room to foster?

We’ve talked to many people interested in fostering in Essex, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. One of the most common questions is “Why do I need a spare room in order to foster?”

The short answer is that it is a mandatory requirement to have a spare bedroom to dedicate to fostering when you apply to be a foster carer. Many people find this frustrating and we often get further questions asking us why this policy exists for foster carers.

Would you move into a house and share a bedroom with a complete stranger?

Moving in with a new foster family is a frightening and confusing time for children, no matter how young or old they are. It can take time for a child to trust carers and to establish that they are safe from harm. In order to process events, change and transition, it is crucial that children have their own space. When in their own space, children are much more likely to examine their feelings and therefore be able to deal with them than they would in a shared or more public space.

For many children the bedroom might have been a dangerous place..

Many children coming into foster care might never have had their own bedroom or safe space. They may have witnessed or been subject to inappropriate, harmful or frightening behaviour. The importance of having a space that is respected and not compromised by others is not to be under-estimated.

Sometimes it’s about you too…

It is not unusual for children who have suffered loss, grief, trauma, abuse or neglect to have a range of issues with sleep. There might be nightmares, bed-wetting, aggression at bed time, insomnia and even sexually inappropriate behaviour. Careful thought must be given to respecting the privacy of children grappling with these issues but also the impact on other family members, particularly if you are expecting that particular family member to share a room with the child.

For more information, please email us at info@easternfosteringservices.com or call us on 01206 299775.

Your Fostering Questions

When thinking about fostering, there are many common questions people ask. Speaking to people in Essex, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire about fostering, we’ve heard some common questions. Here are our responses to frequent questions about fostering.

Am I too old to foster?

There is no upper age limit for foster carers. There is a lower age limit of 21. Generally, in order to foster you need to be in reasonably good health with good physical and emotional resilience. Many foster carers have health conditions which they manage alongside fostering so don’t let this put you off!

Can I foster if I don’t own my own home?

Yes, as long as a secure tenancy is in place there is no need for foster carers to own their own homes. It is a requirement that foster carers have a spare room available for fostering.

Can I show affection to a foster child, e.g. hugging?

The short answer is Yes! It is really important that foster carers are warm and nurturing towards the children they look after. Foster carers need to put fair and firm boundaries in place in the context of a loving home.

Shouldn’t more work be done to keep children with their birth families?

People often see fostering as part of a system that separates children and families and we therefore get asked this question a lot! A big part of the foster carer’s role is to facilitate and support contact with the birth family where that is appropriate. There are many reasons why children cannot live with their birth family but generally all options are explored by the Local Authority before a child comes into foster care.

All children in foster care will have experienced some form of loss and the foster carer must support the child in this, helping them to understand their circumstances and supporting as healthy a relationship as possible with the birth family.

Do I get paid for fostering?

Yes. Foster carers get a fostering allowance which covers all of the costs associated with fostering a child. The amount you are paid will vary depending on who you foster through. When weighing up which fostering provider to go with, we recommend that you look at what support will be offered alongside the financial element.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be answering all your questions. If you live in Cambridgeshire and want to ask us any questions, we’ll be at St Ives festival on 14th and 15th July. Please see our Facebook page for more information or call us on 01206 299775.