Tag Archives: foster care

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 info@easternfosteringservices.com 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 info@easternfosteringservices.com We have lots of useful resources both on our website; try https://easternfosteringservices.com/faqs/ and on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/EasternFosteringServices.

We also hold regular local drop-in information mornings, details of which can be found at www.facebook.com/EasternFosteringServices/events

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 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.

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.

Eastern Fostering Services - With you every step of the way

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

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.