Tag Archives: Essex

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.

Which children are most in need of foster carers?

Every month we get between 150 and 190 referrals for children who are in need of foster carers. Contrary to popular belief these are not all tiny babies; rather they include a variety of children and young people.

This month we have had numerous requests for carers for young mothers and their babies, small and large sibling groups and children entering or well-established into their teen years.

To cope with the demand for carers across a wide range of children, we need carers of all sorts. There isn’t a “one size fits all” mould for carers. Carers can be of all backgrounds, religious persuasion, sexuality, race or standing. What we hope to find in potential carers is a desire to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children and young people and to promote their needs.

It may be that you feel an affinity to teens having had a colourful or challenging adolescence yourself. Perhaps you believe that mothers should be given every opportunity to parent their own children with confidence. It may be that you feel strongly that siblings who are unable to live with their birth families have the right to remain with each other. Fostering can cater to all these beliefs and motivations and indeed much of the above is simply impossible without a wide pool of carers to do the hard work.

If you are interested in making a difference to young mothers seeking guidance, to teens who need someone to believe in them or have enough space and time to help siblings thrive. If you want to nurture, guide and advocate for young people or children, please get in touch to find out more.

We hold events across Essex, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Our next events are in Peterborough on 29th October and we will be holding an informal drop in on 7th November at our offices. Drop us a message and try to come along. For further information visit our events page or email us at info@easternfosteringservices.com

Your fostering questions answered – personal checks and references

What personal checks and references are needed for my assessment to become a foster carer? And why?

Eastern Fostering Services wants to recruit foster carers who can meet the individual needs of children and young people and 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. The assessment includes:

  • 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

Sometimes we get asked why the process takes so long and why so many checks are involved. The simple answer is that foster carers are charged with looking after some of the most vulnerable children in our society and we need to make sure that children are going to be safe, secure and given the best quality care. The 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 and preparing 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.

It is important that the assessment report (the Form F) presents a full, faithful account of who you are, how your experiences have shaped you, 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, 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), what your employers say about you and whether close friends and/or 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 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!

Of the assessment, one of our recently approved carers said, “I found the 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, which I am now putting 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.

Do I get paid to be a foster carer?

When it comes to fostering, money is an emotive and often 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.

We’d like to start out by making it clear that good foster carers are always motivated by a deep 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 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 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 rightly need to know how much money they could expect to receive for fostering when deciding 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 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(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 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.

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.

Why do I need a spare room in order to foster?

This is a question we still get asked a lot! So we thought we’d tackle it as the first topic in our series of videos answering your most common fostering questions.

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 very frustrating and we often get further questions asking us why this policy exists for Local Authorities and Fostering Providers.

Here are just a few reasons:

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 might never have had their own bedroom or safe space and 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.

*Please note, some fostering providers might allow applications without a spare room for babies under 12 months old but after that stage, if there was no room set aside for the child, alternative arrangements would need to be made.

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.

Foster Care Fortnight is here

What is Foster Care Fortnight?

Foster Care Fortnight starts today. Foster Care Fortnight is a national campaign run every year by the Fostering Network. It aims to increase awareness around fostering and promote its benefits in order to recruit more foster carers.

This year the campaign slogan is #ProudToFoster and focuses on how varied a group foster carers are and so showing that people from any walk of life can foster. They have even produced a short film featuring one of our carers.

Here at Eastern Fostering Services, we have asked our carers to produce their own short film and a blog. You can see these on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/EasternFosteringServices

To celebrate Foster Care Fortnight we will be holding some events this May. The first is at Ipswich Market on Thursday 17th May so do come along and see us if you live in Suffolk. Our second is at Colchester Market on 18th May so if you are from Essex and interested in fostering, pop in!

For more information on our Foster Care Fortnight events, go to www.facebook.com/EasternFosteringServices/events

Becoming a foster carer – how do I apply?

Becoming a foster carer. How do I decide who with?

Once you’ve decided to foster, the next decision is which agency to foster through. We advise that you do your research and see which fostering agencies operate in your local area. If you live in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Suffolk or Norfolk, you need to make sure that your Fostering provider is easy to get to and will be able to support you effectively.

Eastern Fostering Services have a head office in Suffolk and are therefore able to support foster carers in Essex, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

You need to get a good feel for the fostering agency. For example, how foster carer focussed are they? What do their foster carers say about them? Have they spent time talking to you about fostering and getting to know your needs and circumstances? What support do they offer? Did they mention training and developing your fostering career?

When you become a foster carer you will need good support from your fostering provider, therefore it is critical that you are convinced you will get this from your earliest conversations with them.

Request a home visit.

The first stage in applying to become a foster carer is to request a home visit.

At Eastern Fostering Services, we are really happy to do this so we will send two of our team to your house. You can ask all your fostering questions and get a feel for us as a team.

If, after this home visit, you want to go ahead and apply to be a foster carer, we will go through the application form with you.

The fostering application form

We use the application form to gather information about you and your partner if you have one. It allows us to understand a bit about your background and your motivation and timing to foster and, as a result, get a good sense of who you are.

There are no right or wrong answers!

Once the form is complete, we will ask you if you want to go ahead and foster. We will confirm that your fostering application has been accepted. There are very few reasons why an application form would not be accepted. Indeed early conversations with your fostering agency would reveal any problems or concerns from either side.

And now the fun starts.

We will allocate you an assessor who will be responsible for producing an assessment of you. This is called a form F and will be the subject of our next blog.

If you live in Essex, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire or Norfolk and would like to know more about becoming a foster carer, please call us on 01206 299775 or email us at info@easternfosteringservices.com