Tag Archives: fostering

Mother and baby fostering

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

What is Mother and baby fostering?

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

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

What are the challenges of mother and baby fostering?

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

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

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

What does successful mother and baby fostering look like?

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

Want to know more about fostering mothers and babies?

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

 

 

 

 

 

Why foster?

“Why am I doing this?” is a question all foster carers will ask themselves at some point and it’s an important question to ask yourself as it enables you to keep your motivations central to your fostering experience.

So why do people foster?
Most people who foster feel passionately about the wellbeing of children. They want to give opportunities to children who may not have had the best start in life; they want to share something of themselves, if you like.

For many, this is not centred around sharing material wealth, this is about loving, nurturing and caring for a child and for others there is a sense that “I have so much and want to share it.”

Most foster carers have a strong sense of social justice – they believe every child deserves the same opportunity to live a good, healthy and happy life and that this is not just the right of any one group of people. Carers also see the value of the “one child at a time” mentality which values the commitment to justice for one child at a time.

It’s true that many carers have had difficult times in their lives; things they’ve lived through that have made them stronger or more wise. Often people wish to share what they’ve learned with children going through similar things and can teach them resilience and a sense of hope for the future.

Carers understand that they are working in an imperfect system and are often at the mercy of government policy and rules and regulations. They do, however understand that it is often the children who pay the price. As such, carers realise that they have a unique opportunity to be the one good thing in a child’s life during difficult times.

There are many carers who are driven to fostering because of what their belief system is. Faith can play a huge role in a person’s desire to foster. Looking after the most vulnerable in our society is an important way for many to live out their faith.

Whatever the initial reason for fostering, all carers will say that they want to make a difference in the lives of children and this is at the root of their motivation.

If you can relate to any of these key motivations to foster and would like the opportunity to discuss fostering with us, please come along to our drop in session next Thursday 13th September at 10.30; we’d be delighted to talk to you.

Our address can be found at www.easternfosteringservices.com or email us at info@easternfosteringservices.com fore more information.

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.

Showing Affection

“I was told you can’t cuddle a child or sit on their bed to read a story!”

This is a comment we get all the time and in the majority of cases, it couldn’t be further from the truth. In the fostering household, we want to replicate all the positives of growing up in a nurturing family. We want children to feel listened to, cherished, nurtured and advocated for. In lots of families, this sense of security and being valued comes from physical affection too, something that many of us take for granted.

One of the differences between fostering and parenting is that as a foster carer, you have to be a lot more intentional around things like physical affection. In other words, you have to tailor your approach to the individual child in your care.

It may be that the child you are caring for thrives off physical affection and that this is a very important part of the healing process for them. But for others, it might be a very different story.

Some children might be over-physical, indiscriminate with physical affection, even with complete strangers. This can put them at risk and therefore as a carer, you would need to think carefully about how, when and with whom physical affection is shown. For children who have a propensity to be overly and inappropriately affectionate, carers might consider helping the child develop boundaries by giving them alternative ways to show affection.
For some children, physical affection is something to be mistrusted and feared. Some abusers will dress up their abuse as affection or a means of showing love to a child and this can make any form of physical affection confusing for the child and can be interpreted as a prelude to abuse.

It’s really important then, that carers take time to understand the child before wading in with a bear hug. It’s true that carers will have some information on the background of the child, and that this background will help the carer develop an approach towards that child. That said, there might still be things that are unknown about what that child has been through.

Whilst allegations of abuse made by children towards carers are not common, carers should be aware of the possibility of this and should take steps to protect themselves and their families. It is possible that children could misinterpret affection or that it could trigger a trauma response, which leads to angry and confused behaviour. This is why it is so important to tailor your approach to the specific child and their circumstances.
To the average person, the idea of setting out a caring plan could be looked upon as overkill, but the purpose of a Safer Caring plan is to make sure that the carer and the child are comfortable with what nurturing and staying safe looks like for that particular child. Many of our carers can happily cuddle up with their child at bed time to read a story. Many of our children need a cuddle in front of the TV to help them feel loved and secure. And of course of a good proportion of our children wouldn’t be seen dead cuddling their carers! Some carers have been free to show affection from day 1; for others it has been a slow, laborious process of trust building and for others it has never been appropriate to hug and the hi-five has become king.

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.

We’re here to answer your fostering questions

As we speak to people across Essex, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire about the shortage in foster carers, we are always struck by the fact that the same questions get asked and that many similar misconceptions are held.

In a series of videos we’d like to answer the questions we hear most frequently. But of course we’ll also answer any other questions you’d like us to. Please feel free to message us or comment with your questions or tell us what’s stopping you from taking that step towards fostering.

If you’d prefer to ask your questions in person, you can come to one of our events or drop in to our offices. For all dates and details please visit our Facebook events page at
www.facebook.com/EasternFosteringServices/events or call us on 01206 299775.

Proud to be Fostering

Our carers are proud to foster

The Fostering Network estimate that the UK needs another 8000 foster carers. Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire reflect the same national picture.

Our foster carers come from all walks of life. Some of them have had happy childhoods and others have been through tough times. Some of our foster carers are single while others are married with children.  In fact, our foster carers are diverse  – as they should be! Foster carers can be rich, poor, home-owners, tenants, gay, straight, male, female, of any faith or none.

So, whilst all our carers are different, they all have one thing in common. This Foster Care Fortnight they are all #ProudToFoster.

One of our foster carer’s Paul shares an excerpt of his story here:

 

I’m Paul. My wife and I are from Suffolk and have been fostering now for 3 years. Before fostering I worked in the Caring sector, caring for elderly people and young people with learning disabilities. I am now a retired grandfather. My wife continues to work part-time as a counsellor and whilst we share the care of our foster child, I suppose you could say that I am the main carer.

We began to foster our child pretty much as soon as we were approved and she has been with us ever since. Fostering has been a life-changing experience. We have come to love our child and have invested significantly in her emotionally. We have loved to watch her begin to overcome some of the difficulties she experienced in early life and to get a glimpse of the young woman she could become. We’ve seen her grow emotionally, academically and socially. But of course, it hasn’t all been plain sailing……..

If you want to read about our carers just go to our Proud to Foster page https://easternfosteringservices.com/proudtofoster/