Category Archives: News

Fostering children: a new PATH?

A boy of about 6 holds a kite over one shoulder, the sun is low in the sky. The boy is starting to run and is aiming the kite for the sky. This image represents the empowerment of children.
Fostering should empower children to make a better future for themselves.

When fostering children, how do we ensure we keep children at the heart of everything we do?

Many foster carers are highly driven to provide child-centric care to the children they are fostering. This takes many forms from therapeutic fostering, advocacy, support in education and providing boundaries. And let’s not forget good old fashioned love and nurturing. All foster carers however need to work within the system and its associated requirements and constraints. It is within this arena that many foster carers see the child-centred approach turn on its heels and disappear.

Is a child centred approach to fostering children always adopted in meetings with professionals?

many foster carers see the child-centred approach turn on its heels and disappear.

Fostering involves meeting and liaising with the professionals who are responsible for fulfilling statutory obligations towards children. This is obviously an important part of the overall fostering picture. Professionals need to ensure that the needs of children are met in every area that forms a part of their care. And rightly so.

Fostering professionals perform a good deal of this box ticking during the Child in Care Review meeting (misguidedly acronymed to CIC). During this meeting a range of professionals and other individuals will be present. Often the child, the foster carer, birth parents, social workers, teachers or other advocates might sit together for all or part of the meeting. The aim of the CIC is to establish progress of the child in a number of areas. In addition to this professionals make plans for the future which will be reviewed at subsequent meetings. At their worst, they are an excruciatingly boring exercise in box ticking which means little or nothing to the child. In fact they can bear little relation to what is truly important to them. At their best they can be an opportunity for the children’s views to be heard and acted upon.

Anecdotally, children who are present for all or some of this meeting can struggle with the monotony of examining everything with a  fine-toothed comb. They can feel scrutinised and vulnerable. One Eastern Fostering Services carer reports, “Our child would stay for the entire meeting. Whilst he was always keen to give his views on certain things, this took a relatively small part of the meeting. About mid-way through, his eyes would glaze over and I don’t think he once left a CIC review without a crushing headache. I suppose he and I saw it as a necessary evil.”

So how do we get it right for the children we’re fostering?

When fostering children, carers can feel it’s like the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead. Indeed when she is good she is very, very good and when she is bad she is horrid. Of course, all foster carers have some horror stories to tell. Furthermore, when things don’t work, we are quick to hear about it in the media or from colleagues. But sometimes the professionals do get it right and when they do, they get it very, very right.

The PATH to good fostering is not paved with gold.

It would be grossly unfair to suggest that the fostering journey is furnished with anything but good intentions; both on the part of foster carers and the myriad professionals responsible for the holistic care of children. However, whilst it is difficult to make statutory box ticking child-centric, children’s views can be heard. Suffolk Virtual School has developed excellent child-centred ways for their social workers, schools’ staff and foster carers to hear and act upon children’s views. The process that they use is called PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope). This was a process originally designed by Inclusive Solutions who trained Suffolk’s Psychology and Therapeutic Service to deliver the process to children and young people in conjunction with Virtual Schools.

“Two years on, it’s having an amazing impact,” says Dr Imogen Howarth of Health, Wellbeing and Children’s services, Suffolk. “Their latest Ofsted Inspection showcased dozens of PATHs across the county with Children and Young People’s services and schools being able to explain their PATH contents and how the children and young people’s views captured in the process were being translated into real world practice.”

Image shows a boy dreaming of space, possibly he wants to be an astronaut.
Children are encouraged to verbalise their dreams with no restrictions.

How does PATH work?

PATH is a process that creates a vision of a positive future for the child which is shared with those who are important to them. This might be foster carers, birth family, social workers, therapists and teachers. It is completely child-centred and therefore is focussed on the young person and their very personal dreams for the future.

The session is delivered by a facilitator who guides people through each stage of outlining the dream and what needs to happen to make it a reality.

The first stage is to set out the dream. The child or young person is asked to verbalise their hopes and dreams for the future. There are no limitations or constraints during this part of the process and a good deal of time is spent in understanding the dream so that it can inform the rest of the PATH.

It was all about the child. There was so much positive feedback to build her esteem and you could see that she felt heard, loved and empowered.

The next part of the process involves some good old fashioned time travel as the group journey to a year from the present and articulate all the positives that will have been achieved in that year. Thereafter the child is brought back to the present to express how they feel about what is happening now.

The child will then identify some key individuals who they will need on their path. This list will invariably include all those who the child considers important to them and others who will be important in the realisation of their dream.

Goals and aspirations require strength and perseverance. The next stage of the process is to encourage the child to think about what they will need to stay strong. This might be the learning of new skills or the support of their carer. It might involve buy in and enthusiasm from the birth family or additional support from school.

Finally the child decides on their next steps. These steps might be large or small but aim to give very practical means for the child to make progress in the actualisation of their hopes and dreams.

Where does the PATH lead the child?

At the end of the session that was geared around the child our carers support, a beautiful piece of art had been produced. This masterpiece pictorially laid out the dreams and the path that would be taken. It was peppered with positive words and phrases that described all the attributes of the child and laid out a hopeful vision for the future. This art work takes pride of place on the child’s bedroom wall as a constant reminder of what the future might look like and a map of how to get there. No glazed eyes, no crushing headache, just the hope of what the future could look like and the very real possibility that she can make it happen.

“This was an amazing process to be part of,” says Samuel Perryman, Supervising Social Worker at Eastern Fostering Services. “It was all about the child. There was so much positive feedback to build her esteem and you could see that she felt heard, loved and empowered.”

No glazed eyes, no crushing headache, just the hope of what the future could look like and the very real possibility that she can make it happen.

For more information on PATH and the part it can play in supporting the positive fostering of children, click here.   

For more information on the process, please contact

If you would like to find out more about Eastern Fostering Services and the work we do in Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire, visit us at

Fostering Refugee Children

What should carers know when it comes to fostering refugee children?

When it comes to fostering refugee children, carers must learn to navigate a whole new world. Let’s start with semantics. The language people use when discussing the needs, provision and challenges associated with fostering refugee children is specific and fluid. In the UK we tend to brand all migrant children as refugee children or vice versa.

In fact, whether someone is a refugee or not is specified in law. Moreover, it often directly relates to that child’s legal status at the time. It is highly likely that if you are fostering a refugee child, you are actually caring for an Unaccompanied Migrant Child. But you could equally be looking after an Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Child (UASC) whose status has yet to be decided by the Home Office. How we love to label these children!

Yet for the purposes of this article, I will be using the publicly recognisable but perhaps technically inaccurate term: refugee.

A teenager in a hooded fleece, standing against a dark wall, looking down so that his face can't be seen. This illustrates the identity issues faced when fostering refugee children
Young people are frequently labelled at a time where their identity is in crisis.

What’s the difference?

The definition of a Refugee is someone who has been forced to leave their country of nationality and cannot return due to a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of:

  • race
  • religion
  • nationality
  • membership of a particular social group (including gender and sexuality)
  • holding a particular opinion

1951 Refugee Convention

The definition of an Asylum Seeker is someone who applies to be given refugee status in a country other than his or her own under the 1951 Refugee Convention. This person will be waiting for a decision on the application.

An Unaccompanied Migrant Child is one who has moved across an international border or within a state away from his or her habitual place of residence, regardless of their legal status. These children are separated from parents and are not being cared for by an adult.

IOM (International Organization for Migration)

What misconceptions might you face when fostering refugee children?

We live in a time where there are widely differing views on migrants generally. Confusion and misunderstanding mingle with political and economic strategy (often built on fear) to create a melting pot of misinformation and division. So what do we know?

  • Women and under 18s together make up 70% of the world’s displaced people
  • In 2017 650,000 asylum claims were made in Europe.
  • 31,800 unaccompanied or separated children arrived in the EU in 2017.
  • 89% of these children were male.
  • 77% were 16 years old.
  • Of those children just 7% made asylum claims in the UK.
  • Germany continues to be the top European destination for refugee children accounting for over 40% of all EU asylum claims in 2017.
  • 84% of refugees and asylum seekers are hosted by low and middle-income countries such as Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran and Uganda (amongst others).

Carers fostering refugee children often come up against the strength of feeling that exists in our society. It is one of those issues that divides people right down to the nucleus of family. Foster carers must ensure they are educated as to the real facts surrounding migration and displacement. This will equip them for the task they will undoubtedly have in educating others.

Confusion and misunderstanding mingle with political and economic strategy to create a melting pot of misinformation and division.

Whatever our views on the issue of displacement, migration and the ensuing refugee situation, we have to agree that it is not going away. We face increasing displacement not just from war, ideology or a shifting political landscape but also due to climate change and its associated repercussions. Therefore, we need to learn how to care for the most vulnerable amongst the 68.5 million people forcibly displaced worldwide.

Fostering refugee children: just like fostering any other child?

There was a school of thought not so long ago that fostering refugee children was an easy option for carers. Anecdotally, this group of children did not tend to present with many of the behavioural difficulties that might be found in children born and raised in the UK.

Many professionals recounted that these children often had a good grounding within a loving family before they had had to make their journey to the UK. In short, they were and are often subject to generalisation, lumped into a faceless group and as a result children feel misunderstood or inadequately supported.

The reality is that refugee children come from a variety of countries, religions, cultures and families. They will have differing life views. Many will have different experiences. And of course, they will have a range of beliefs and expectations. These children are individuals. There are, however, some things that unite them.

Children will need some specific support from foster carers.

All children who arrive in the UK seeking asylum will need to go through the Asylum Process. This is the process by which children apply for asylum through the Home Office. Carers report it to be complex, fraught with deadlines and responsibilities and often a total unknown. Children are often stressed, frightened and re-traumatised by it. Undoubtedly foster carers face a steep learning curve.

Many carers report that the process is one that is founded on suspicion and in which the onus is on the child to justify the reasons for their claim, to answer questions consistently with little allowance given for confusion, fear and trauma.

Children who are going through the asylum process will need a good deal of practical and emotional support. They will need to know what the process involves, who the key players are and what the system expects of them. And very frequently, children are expected to grapple with this strange new world in a completely foreign and unmastered language.

They may struggle to communicate the impact that the uncertainty of the process is having on them emotionally.

Trauma will be a thread running through the lives of refugee children.

Foster carers widely report psychological distress, sometimes leading to mental health disorders in unaccompanied migrant children. As children try to get to grips with the loss of their families and the cultural leap they are having to make, they often feel isolated and displaced.

Children are frequently worried about the family they have left behind or lost on their journey. Many children have experienced trauma in their home countries as well as during their journey. They are grieving and in many cases do not have the tools to express or process this grief. Often this loss, separation and trauma is happening at a key developmental stage and as such can take a significant toll on a child’s well-being.

Foster carers can often recognise the signs of trauma or mental anguish. Therefore, they will be in a position to advocate for the appropriate support for them.

In the children, foster carers might notice and flag up:

  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Headaches
  • Sleep disorders including insomnia and nightmares
  • Detachment
  • Depression
  • Self-harm
  • Hypervigilance
  • Flashbacks
  • Explosive anger
  • Eating disorders
Teenager seen in silhouette against the sun, walking on cracked earth. When fostering refugee children there are many challenges but with support there is hope.

Children who are going through the asylum process will need a good deal of practical and emotional support.

As a foster carer you will need support too.

Foster carers are the primary carers for refugee children. Indeed they deal with the impact of loss, separation, abuse and trauma every day. This has an effect on the carer that isn’t to be minimised.

Foster carers can experience Secondary Traumatic Stress to varying degrees as a result of caring for children. Therefore it is really important that foster carers are well supported by their fostering provider, their support network and other professionals.

One of our carers who has been fostering a refugee child for 3 years recently said,

“Caring for our child has presented untold challenges as fostering often does. Bearing witness to his Post Traumatic Stress and supporting him in it has had an impact on us as a family who foster. It is hard to describe how you feel when you are faced with such pain and stress and when you are living with it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Without the support of my social worker, friends and family it would have been impossible at times to maintain.

I am pleased to say that because of the excellent support and the quality of the professionals involved in his care, our child has thrived and now faces a bright and hopeful future, despite all that he has been through.”

More information

Fostering any child requires carers to learn, grow and develop. With each child, whatever their background, new challenges await and new lessons are learned. Carers have to understand the systems they work within. This is the case regardless of the child they are caring for.

The subjects I have touched on in this article are complex and as such I have given just a broad overview. There are lots of fantastic sources of information available.

As a first port of call, I would recommend The UNHCR and The Refugee Council. Further valuable information can be found in Children on the Move – Data Brief UNICEF 2018 and Harrowing Journeys Report IOM-UNICEF 2017.

Refugee Week begins on 17th June 2019. This is a good opportunity to listen to stories and find out more about the problems facing displaced people across the world.

At Eastern Fostering Services, we have built up a lot of expertise and knowledge around fostering refugee children so if you have questions, get in touch or visit us on Facebook.

Fostering trans young people

Transgender flag used to illustrate fostering trans young people.
Transgender flag waving in blue cloudy sky, 3D rendering

7 things trans young people need from their foster carers

We know that children and young people in foster care are highly vulnerable and need their foster carers to support and advocate for them. We also know that trans young people are vulnerable to discrimination and oppression. So how should carers prepare for fostering trans young people?

What should foster carers know about what it’s like to be a trans young person?

One could say that generally our society does not treat young people well. Teenagers are often treated with suspicion and criticism and a degree of contempt. For young people in foster care, these attitudes are largely exacerbated. When it comes to fostering trans young people, the challenges can be even more pronounced.

  • 81% of trans young people will avoid certain social situations out of fear, for example over 50% have said they avoid public toilets (Trans mental health review 2012)
  • 62% of trans young people have experienced harassment by the public in a public space (James Morton, Scottish Transgender Alliance, 2008)
  • 30% reported that a health care professional refused to discuss a trans-related concern with them (Trans Mental Health Review, 2012)
  • 84% have considered suicide at some point (Trans Mental Health Review, 2009)

Should trans young people be treated any differently when it comes to fostering?

Of course the answer is a resounding no! All children in foster care should expect their carers to support, encourage, respect and advocate for them. Trans children and young people are no different. But it would be naïve to assume that a one-size-fits-all approach will cover all eventualities. Trans young people may be dealing with additional problems related to their identity and it is this that foster carers need to be mindful of and prepared for. In short, foster carers need to educate themselves.

Metaphor for the challenges around fostering trans young people
Gender gap, sex inequality concept as male and female stand on different size cliffs. Metaphor of discrimination social issue, women superiority, feminism idea dominance.

What do trans young people need from me as their foster carer?

Most young people desire to be accepted and understood. Some trans young people will feel this need more keenly amidst rejection and ridicule by peers or society at large. As a trans young person in foster care therefore, you may be looking even more closely at your carer’s actions and reactions.

Trans young people may be dealing with additional problems related to their identity and it is this that foster carers need to be mindful of and prepared for.

  • Be empathetic.

Foster carers need to be able to put themselves in the shoes of others. How important is your identity to you? How would you feel if your identity was questioned or denied? Do all that you can to understand the young person’s perspective. Read blogs, articles, research and TALK to your young person.

  • Create a safe space.

In order to understand a young person’s point of view, you need to create trust and opportunity to share conversation. Always be led by the young person and go at their pace but the aim should be to normalise discussion. This allows a young person to feel heard and accepted.

  • Be accepting.

We all want to be accepted for who we are and foster carers have a duty to accept children and young people and meet them where they are at. Trans young people might have experienced rejection, abuse and alienation as a direct result of their identity. They have a right to be respected and accepted in the home environment.

All children in foster care should expect their carers to support, encourage, respect and advocate for them.

I also need you to…

  • Find out what is important to the young person.

What pronoun do they want you to use for them? What name? How open do they want to be with others? Do they want to access support services? Do they want to explore their identity further and do they need help to do so? Don’t assume. Ask.

  • Support the young person to educate themselves.

There are many good sources of age appropriate information which can help trans young people to understand their feelings. Seek these out and offer to share them with your young person

  • Advocate for your young person.

Once you know their experiences, expectations and desires make sure other professionals understand and abide by them.

  • Challenge other professionals!

Correct stereotypes. Be sensitive to mis-gendering. Try to engage those who don’t listen.

Fostering a trans young person? Start right here.

Trans Youth in Care have produced an excellent guide and toolkit. In addition to this they have a great list of further resources. Well worth a look!

If you think you have what it takes to foster a young person, get in touch with EFS at or visit our Facebook page to learn a bit more or find out about our information events near to you.

Becoming a foster carer: 5 things you should know

Becoming a foster carer will change your life. Here are 5 things you should know.

  • Fostering is hard but rewarding

Becoming a foster carer is one of the bravest steps you can take. It is a job that takes place in your home, 24/7. Fostering will require you to make changes to your life. Not only will you be fostering the most vulnerable children in society but you will be working within a difficult system too. It’s hard work. BUT the rewards are beyond anything you could expect in any other job. If you’re in two minds about fostering, simply ask yourself, “in what other job can I transform lives?” With the right support, from the right fostering agency, fostering can be a joy.

Male and female foster carers with their two birth sons, smiling and looking excited.
Becoming a fostering family
  • When you become a foster carer your life will change too!

As with any big life change, foster carers need to learn to live differently. When you apply to foster, you will open your life up to examination. It is important that foster carers realise that no-one is judging them. You are not expected to be saintly! Fostering providers need to check that you have what it takes to foster and that you are offering the best standard of care for the child. However within that, it is understood that you are an individual with your own approach and you should be free to add your uniqueness to the fostering process. Any good provider will nurture you as an individual and support you to foster in the best way you can.

If you’re in two minds about fostering, simply ask yourself, “in what other job can I transform lives?”

  • You may lose some friends but you’ll gain some too.

Not everyone will understand the changes that will happen in your life when you foster. Many of your friends will want to support you; undoubtedly friends like this are gems and will form an important part of your support network. But there will be others who don’t understand that you may need to cancel plans at the last minute. They might not understand your motivations and feel left out. It is important that you can be part of a fostering community. Making friends with other carers will ensure that you feel understood and supported. Take advantage of the fostering communities offered to you by your fostering provider.

  • You will surprise yourself.

Fostering gives you endless opportunity to learn about yourself. The children that you care for will provoke all manner of reactions in you! Some children may cause your own unresolved issues to surface. It is for this reason that you must choose a fostering provider who will offer excellent support and supervision. But it’s not all bad! When you foster, you will discover strengths you did not know you had. As you help children to heal, you too will grow, learn and develop as a person.

In a world where kindness and understanding can be hard to find, one often sees them alive and kicking in fostering families.

  • Fostering will make your life richer.

We all know that good foster carers can transform the lives of children. This is one of the main motivations of good foster carers. Yet, it is also true to say that fostering will transform and enrich the lives of fostering families. Foster carers often tell us that their birth children have become more resilient, more empathetic and more emotionally intelligent. Both children and adults who foster learn something vital about their own humanity and that of others who are different to them. In a world where kindness and understanding can be hard to find, one often sees them alive and kicking in fostering families.

If you think that you have what it takes to become a foster carer, we have lots of information on our website, including some excellent fostering seminars. Find out more about fostering here.

We also post information about Eastern Fostering Services events on our Facebook page. See if there is a fostering event near to you!

Could you #changeafuture

Good fostering can transform lives

This May sees the start of Foster Care Fortnight, the UK’s biggest awareness raising campaign for foster care.

In the UK, it is estimated that over 8000 additional fostering families are needed .

“In the East of England alone, we need over 600 additional carers to allow us to provide well matched foster carers to the children who need them,” says Eleanor Vanner of Eastern Fostering Services, an agency who look after children across Essex, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. “Every 20 minutes in the UK another child comes into care needing a fostering family; it’s vital that we have a good pool of carers for these children.”

Fostering offers children and young people the opportunity for secure, safe and nurturing homes when they are unable to live with their birth families. Indeed good foster care can help transform the lives of children who have experienced loss and trauma in their early lives.

So what makes a good foster carer?

“There are several things that we look for in potential foster carers,” says Lucy Stevens who recruits carers for Eastern Fostering Services. “Foster carers are expected to support, listen to and advocate for children. They need to be empathetic, good communicators, patient, kind, warm, nurturing, strong and determined. They need to be able to work with a wide range of individuals and professionals. They need to be resilient and perhaps most importantly of all be in possession of a good sense of humour!”

All foster carers need to fulfil some basic criteria. They must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have a spare bedroom big enough for a young person to live in
  • Be a full time resident in the UK or have leave to remain
  • Be able to commit in terms of time to the child they are looking after

Think you could #changeafuture? What do you do next?

If you think you meet the basic criteria required to foster and that you have many of the qualities that foster carers need to have; and if you live in Essex, Suffolk or Cambridgeshire contact Eastern Fostering Services at We have lots of useful resources both on our website; try and on our Facebook page at

We also hold regular local drop-in information mornings, details of which can be found at

Our next event is at Falafel and More in Colchester on 18th May between 11 and 2. We hope to see you there!

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 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 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 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 or call us on 01206 299775.

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

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!