Independent agency, Eastern Fostering Services are using virtual reality in their fostering training. But why? And how?
In reality, fostering is hard. Foster carers are expected to be able to cope with a range of challenges within their own home. Children come into foster care with all manner of grief, pain and damage and this can manifest itself in many ways.
Virtually anything can happen…
Attachment issues or disorders
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Drug and alcohol misuse
Violence or aggression
Mental health problems
The list goes on. Indeed, foster carers need to be able to cope with whatever fostering throws at them. Many foster carers will say that they are prepared for any eventuality! And it is a good job.
What effect does this have on foster carers?
From time to time, dealing with the daily reality of fostering can leave carers care-worn and overwhelmed. Nonetheless, it is vital for the healing of the child that the carer can continue to have empathy and understanding for the children they are caring for. Therefore, carers need to be able to put themselves into the child’s shoes in order to keep the child at the forefront of their care.
How can foster carers stay empathetic?
The professionals at Eastern Fostering Services are constantly thinking of ways they can support their carers. Moreover, they keep the care of carers central to their objective of making a positive difference in the lives of children.
They understand that supporting their carers in a variety of ways helps build resilience. In turn, this helps build successful fostering.
Virtual reality, the key to successful fostering?
When Eleanor Vanner, Director of Eastern Fostering Services, heard about Cornerstone, she knew she had found something that could help carers understand why some children struggle in foster care.
The team at Cornerstone have developed a series of Virtual Reality films to help carers and professionals to understand the needs of children in or from the care system. The films range from a child in the womb, hearing domestic violence to a baby experiencing neglectful, abusive and inconsistent parenting. In addition, the films provide helpful versus unhelpful responses on the part of carers or professionals.
What benefits do the virtual reality films bring to fostering?
“Because you are IN the film,” says Eleanor Vanner. “You experience first hand what many of our children have lived. And the films really stay with you. You experience the hypervigilance, the dread and the fear – during and following the watching.”
You experience the hypervigilance, the dread and the fear.
Eastern Fostering Services are now offering the Virtual Reality films as part of the training programme for foster carers. Moreover, they have begun using it as part of the Skills to Foster Training which is part of the fostering assessment.
“It is vital,” says Eleanor. “That carers are able to understand what our children have experienced and how this has affected them.”
As a result of watching the films, new and old carers alike can bring that frightened child to the front of their minds.
Because of the upsetting nature of the films, carers are offered one to one support before and afterwards to help them process what they have experienced.
“The films really stayed with me and I found myself thinking about the images even weeks later. This is all happening second hand to me. So, what must it be like for my child, who lived this first hand? It has really helped me to walk in my child’s shoes,” says foster carer, Lucy.
Want to know more? Contact Eastern Fostering Services at email@example.com
Once you have completed your application form and we have carried out the necessary checks, we will begin your fostering assessment.
A fostering assessor will be assigned to you and your family. All of our assessors are friendly, keen to put you at your ease and experienced in producing fostering assessment reports.
The job of your assessor is to provide a detailed report on you, your partner and your family. This report will look at your life experiences, motivation, strengths and qualities . It should also flag up training opportunities. In addition to this, the report will give your fostering provider pointers on how best to support you.
What will my assessor want to know?
The assessor will produce a final report, ubiquitously known as the Form F. If you want to have a thorough look at what the report contains, you can see a sample here. However, this blog summarises it nicely for you!
Your assessor will focus on the main body of the report. Through a series of face to face visits, conversations and informal interviews he/she will cover a range of topics.
Your early life experiences
A big part of who you are today stems from the experiences you had as a child. Your early experiences shape you, your views and often give you motivation in life. We do not expect our carers to have idyllic childhoods. In fact, we often find that carers who have had difficult times in life are able to empathise with our children and young people. Difficult situations and circumstances often help us to build resilience; something foster carers need in buckets! That said, if you had a wonderful childhood, this can also serve as motivation in wanting to share this with others.
Your adult life including relationships and employment
Your assessor will talk to you about the other experiences you’ve had throughout your life. This will include your experiences of significant romantic relationships, what you learned from them and how they have shaped who you are today. We’re interested in all the facets that make up who you are, including your professional life. The assessor will seek to demonstrate what transferrable attributes you will be bringing to fostering.
..we often find that carers who have had difficult times in life are able to empathise with our children and young people..
Your personality and current relationship
Who are you as a person? What are your strengths? What is important to you? The fostering assessment will paint a detailed picture of who you are and what motivates you. If you are in a long term relationship, the assessment will be detailed for both of you. Therefore you will both meet with the assessor together and separately.
When it comes to your relationship, we’ll want to understand how you work as a team. What are your complimentary strengths and qualities? Why does your relationship work? How do you expect to share the fostering, practically and emotionally?
Birth children and support network
If you have children, they will form an important part of the fostering assessment. We will want to ensure that their feelings and views are taken into account, even if they are fully grown and living away from home. It may be that they envisage being part of your support network. Perhaps they are still living at home? Either way, we will need to ensure that they are fully included in the support package that we put together for you.
Foster carers do need good support from friends and family and we will want to ensure that your support network is robust and reliable.
Your capacity and motivation to foster
The assessor will be looking for evidence to support your application. Fostering involves a variety of areas in which you will need to develop skills. How can you demonstrate warmth, empathy, encouragement. What are your attitudes towards diversity (race, gender, sexuality, religion)? How can you demonstrate that you will support a child in their education? What skills might you have in advocacy? How will you support contact with the birth family? How might you work with other professionals?
Your assessor will ask you a variety of questions to help include all the strengths and competencies you will bring to fostering. By their nature, the questions will require you to dig deep but you should NOT feel judged or interrogated.
What do our carers say about the fostering assessment?
We were a bit anxious that it would be intrusive but the process allowed real soul searching and was actually very liberating!
Our assessor was friendly, open and we never felt judged. We built a good relationship and trusted her to represent us faithfully in the Form F.
What happens after the Form F is written?
Once the assessor has finished the fostering assessment, you will be ready for panel! This will be the subject of our next blog. Stay tuned!
Want to find out more?
We have regular events and coffee mornings which offer you the opportunity to meet us and ask your questions. You can also meet some of our foster carers. Our next event is in Ipswich on 23rd September. Check out our Facebook page for more details. Alternatively, call us on 01206 299775 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
How do I proceed with the Fostering Application after the home visit?
Last week we shared a blog about the home visit. Once you have had your home visit and you, your family and the fostering provider are keen to go ahead with your fostering application, you are ready for the next stage of the process. The fostering application form.
What information does the fostering application form require?
We need quite a bit of information from you in order to proceed with your fostering application. The assessment will consist of information gathering both behind the scenes and directly from you in the form of face to face meetings. The application form helps us to start both of these processes.
Behind the scenes
There are some checks that we will need to carry out with Local Authorities, the Police and Due Diligence Services (DBS). In the application form, we ask you to list previous addresses so that we can contact the Local Authorities. This enables us to check facts and to gather a narrative of your history.
We also ask for references, both personal and professional, where appropriate. If you do not yet want us to approach your professional referees, you can state this and we can leave it until a later date once things have progressed further. The aim of references is to build a picture of your skills and personal qualities and is a useful way for us to get to know you better.
Many excellent foster carers manage long term health conditions and might also have a history of mental health conditions.
We’ll need to know about your general health and will ask for details of any health conditions on your fostering application form. Moreover, we will write to your GP and request them to carry out a health check. The GP then completes a report which will help us to assess your physical and mental fitness to foster. Please do not be worried about this. Many excellent foster carers manage long term health conditions and might also have a history of mental health conditions. These medical issues in themselves will not stop you from fostering but will allow us to assess what additional support you might need.
We will ask you for details of any previous long-term partners. We know that sometimes approaching previous partners can be difficult and we will talk to you about this. For some people there are valid reasons not to approach ex-partners and we will always take your views into account and discuss it with you.
The face to face
The fostering application form will ask you some more general questions which help us to get a feel for your family, lifestyle and home situation. In addition to this we will ask some initial questions about your motivation to foster. Why do you want to foster? Why now? How long have you been thinking about it?
You will provide details of any birth children, living away from home or in the family home. Your children will form an important part of the fostering assessment. We will need to understand their views, feelings and expectations. Where birth children are adult and living away from home, we would want to contact them to speak to them about you and their views on what you might be like as a foster carer. Younger birth children, living at home, will be spoken to by a social worker as part of the assessment process. In addition to this, their feelings, needs and circumstances will be assessed so that we can ensure the best possible package of support for the whole family.
Once we have received your fostering application form, we will commence all the background checks. Additionally, we will assign you an assessor. This assessor will be responsible for producing your report, known as the Form F.
This document will form the subject of our next blog, so do keep an eye out for it.
Once you have done your research and have decided you want to become a foster carer, you can arrange a home visit.
An important part of your journey to become a foster carer is to ensure you are well informed. To this end, the home visit is an excellent opportunity to ask any questions you have about fostering and becoming a foster carer.
I want to become a foster carer.What questions should I ask?
Deciding to become a foster carer can open up all sorts of questions and worries. Therefore it is important that the fostering service you are speaking to are open and responsive to your questions. You can find a list of the most commonly asked fostering questions on the Eastern Fostering Services website.
When visiting you at home, the Fostering provider should give you ample time to ask the questions you need to ask about how to become a foster carer and what happens afterwards. It is a good idea to ring round fostering providers in your local area first and get a feel for them. You can find a list of fostering providers on the Fostering Network website.
What will they want to know about me?
As well as giving you the opportunity to ask your questions, the fostering provider will want to check a few things too. It can be a bit nerve wracking, having strangers in your home and you may feel a little exposed.
Any good fostering provider will not expect your house to be a show home..
Don’t worry! We want to see the real you!
Often people can feel under pressure to have the perfect home and for everything to be immaculate. Any good fostering provider will not expect your house to be a show home! They are not there to judge you or to make you feel under scrutiny. There are a few simple things they will be looking for:
The spare room for fostering
Everybody who wants to become a foster carer needs to have a spare room set aside for fostering. However, this room does not need to be palatial! It is simply useful for the fostering provider to understand what age child might best suit the room.
Understanding the fostering needs of you and your family
When it comes to fostering, it is important that the fostering provider knows you and your family well. The reason for this is to enable good matching. The home visit allows us to get a good feel for you, your family, your lifestyle and what is important to you. It is about ensuring that your fostering journey is a positive one for you and your family.
Why do you want to become a foster carer?
This is one of the most important questions of all. It is important that a fostering agency understands your motivation as this too will inform the matching process. What do you want out of fostering? How will you keep yourself motivated? What do you think you have to offer? These are all important questions to ask yourself before contacting fostering providers.
If we all want to go ahead after the home visit, what’s next?
If you wish to apply to become a foster carer, you will need to complete an application form. This is the subject of our next blog, so keep your eyes peeled!
If you have any questions about fostering, you can contact Eastern Fostering Services at email@example.com or on 01206 299775 or you can look us up on Facebook.
Thinking of becoming a foster carer? How do you find out which fostering providers to approach?
As with anything in life, when it comes to becoming a foster carer, you should do your research. As a foster carer, you will need excellent support so you should look for local fostering providers who offer quality, 24 hour support. Smaller agencies are often better placed to offer quality, tailored support.
The Fostering Network have a tool on their website that allows you to search for local fostering providers. Moreover the internet is an excellent source of information. However, you need to know what you are looking for when deciding which fostering provider might best suit you and your individual needs.
I want to become a foster carer, shall I approach a fostering agency or the Local Authority?
Deciding who you want to foster with is a personal choice. The Local Authority prefer to place children with their in-house foster carers and will give them priority. Therefore you might get a greater choice of children. Increasingly, however, due to the shortage in foster carers, fostering agencies also receive a high number of requests.
The main difference between fostering agencies and Local Authorities is in the quality and level of support you will receive. In particular, smaller agencies such as Eastern Fostering Services will know you, your family and the children you foster very well. This means that when you need to call for help, you will speak to a team member who knows your situation – no need for lengthy explanations!
I have found some fostering providers – what now?
Ask yourself, are these people you could work with?
You can contact fostering providers by phone, email or web enquiry form. Indeed some fostering providers can be found on Facebook. Simply get in touch with them and ask them for more information.
Fostering providers should offer you the chance to talk either over the phone or face to face.
Here is a quick suggestion of what you might ask them:
What support do you offer carers?
Can you tell me about your matching process?
How does the assessment process work?
What positive outcomes do you achieve for children?
What training and development do you offer?
Which children do you need carers for?
In turn, Fostering providers might ask you:
Why do you want to foster?
Are there birth children living at home?
Do you have a spare room available for fostering?
Have you got experience working with children or vulnerable adults?
What type of child (age, gender etc.) do you feel would suit
What do you do for a living?
Can you drive?
Do you have a criminal record?
A more in-depth conversation is now needed.
When you have decided which fostering provider(s) might be the best fit for you, you can request a home visit. This is a great opportunity for you to ask any other questions. In addition you can get an even better feel for the fostering provider. Ask yourself, are these people you could work with?
To get the best out of your home visit, keep your eyes open for our next blog: Becoming a Foster carer, step 2 – the home visit. You can access all our blogs from our homepage.
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.
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:
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
Sleep disorders including insomnia and nightmares
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Facebook page to learn a bit more or find out about our information events near to you.
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.
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!
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
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
Be able to commit in terms of time to the child
they are looking after
Think you could #changeafuture? What do you do next?
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 email@example.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.
Eastern Fostering Services
Unit 1E, The Gattinetts, Hadleigh Road, East Bergholt, Suffolk CO7 6QT