FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Here is a selection of FAQs we get asked when people are applying to be a foster carer.

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FAQs

Foster Care is about caring for a child or young person in your own home. For a whole variety of reasons children are placed with foster carers by children’s local authority social services.

Some of these children may eventually return to their families. In some cases, this may take a matter of days or weeks, in others it may take much longer. Some children may go on to be adopted or some may stay in foster care on a long-term or permanent basis.

Foster care provides the opportunity for  children to live in a family home environment.

Foster carers are members of the public who have been trained and assessed to care for looked after children. Foster carers work with fostered children and other relevant agencies to ensure children receive  a loving home environment, and high-quality care, to ensure they can become the best they can.

Children who live within a foster family are encouraged to develop and succeed whilst they may be experiencing a difficult period in their life.

The start is by calling us or requesting a call back by completing the online enquiry form below. We’ll call you back for an informal and no commitment chat where we can answer any questions you may have. Our current recruitment process is regularly being updated dependant on the latest Government Guidance on social distancing due to COVID-19. We have a commitment to keeping you, our foster carers, our young people and our staff safe.

 

Once we have conducted an initial visit and assessment of your home, you will be provided with an Application Pack.  You will need to complete certain forms and return them to us.  Once received, we will commence the statutory checks and arrange a medical with your GP. You will be allocated an Assessing Social Worker, who will complete your assessment with you.  This will include enquiries into your background, character, health and your overall family circumstances, plus your experiences and strengths as a potential carer.  Once the Assessing Social Worker has completed their assessment, they prepare a report about you called a Form F.  This Form F is then presented to our fostering panel once you have signed to confirm its accuracy.  The Fostering Panel is made up of people from Health, Education, Foster Care and other appropriately experienced people, who make recommendations to approve foster carers. 

We undertake various checks on applicants and members of their household. These are some of the checks we do;

  • Identity Checks – to confirm your identity and address
  • Relationship Status – to ascertain that you are single or in a stable relationship
  • Personal References – to get the viewpoint of people that know you well and can discuss your previous experiences with children and how you can transfer these skills to fostering
  • Health Checks – to confirm that you can cope physically and mentally with the demands of caring for children
  • Enhanced DBS Checks – on you and other household members aged 18 years and over. This is to ensure that a child in your care would not be at risk

As part of the assessment, you will be expected to attend a short training programme known as ‘Skills to Foster’. Foster Care can be a demanding task.  You will certainly need good health, an understanding of the difficulties faced by parents and a commitment to the welfare of children which is shared and supported by all family members. 

You will have a choice in who you offer to care for. The fostering assessment will also help identify which group of young people you’ll be best suited to. This could be younger children, teenagers, young parents, children with special needs, life limiting illnesses or a wide range of needs. We will also provide training to help you increase your skills and abilities.

 

At Unity Foster Care we receive requests for foster carers to care for all ages of children, sibling groups, children with special needs, with disabilities and even for foster homes who can advise young parents on how to look after their children.

Your fostering assessment will help us identify your skills and abilities and the type of young person you’d be able to care for.

For more information Contact us or check out our Who will I foster page

Unity Foster Care has an excellent reputation for offering high levels of support to its foster carers.  As a minimum, you’ll have;

  • An allocated social worker who is there to support you
  • Regular supervision meetings
  • Access to a network of other foster carers
  • Regular support groups
  • Paid breaks (we call this respite)
  • Access to our 24/7 365 support network and on call social workers
  • Access to a friendly office-based team who are always willing to assist you and help in any way they can
  • Access to specialist advice and guidance when needed

All our carers receive a generous fostering allowance for this vital role. The level of allowance varies depending on the needs of the child or young people you look after.

At Unity Foster Care we don’t approve our carers to care just for babies. Our aim is always to achieve long-term and stable placements where children and young people can grow and feel part of the family.

Therefore, if you only want to foster babies, we advise you to approach your local authority to become a foster carer with them. It’s not that we don’t want you, however we have very little need for foster carers who only want to care for babies on a short-term basis. As nature has it, babies have a habit of growing older. If a foster carer says they only want to care for babies there will come a time when the baby gets older, sadly meaning they will have to move on. This is totally against Unity Foster Care ethos. We know the more times a young child moves between carers, the more unsettled they will become and the less likely they are to achieve their potential.

So, if you are interested in fostering a baby or toddler, with a view to providing a long-term placement through to 18 years and beyond, where this is in the child’s care plan, we would love to speak with you.

What we do need though, are foster carers who can provide a foster home for Parent and Child placements -– these are foster placements where you help teach a young parent to look after their baby within your home. Unfortunately, we have a great shortage of these types of foster homes, therefore if this interests you, please -  Call us to find out more.

Similarly, there is a significant shortage of foster carers who can look after sibling groups, many foster carers don’t have sufficient space in their homes for siblings. Therefore, when a placement can’t be found to keep siblings together, they will frequently be separated and placed with different carers, often long distances apart from one another, meaning they only get to see one another at pre-arranged contact times.

Here at Unity we are passionate in our aim to keep siblings together and will prioritise any applicants who can offer a home for sibling groups of 2, 3 or more. Keeping young children together is vital for their identity, long-term development and ability to form attachments and grow into confident adults.

Regrettable, we still hear stories of adults and teenagers who have been separated from their siblings, growing apart and having lost touch. At Unity Foster Care we work extremely hard to prevent this and will always try our very best to keep siblings together. In certain circumstances, siblings can share a room, but ideally each young person needs to have their own room to provide them with their own space and private time.

You can still foster siblings if you have other children at home as long as you have the required number of bedrooms and sufficient living space to share family times together, such as eating meals or watching TV.

During our matching process, we also discuss all the practical arrangements, such as how school runs will be undertaken and the demands on your time, should either your own or the foster children have specific or extra needs.

As well as the initial Skills to Foster Training, we have a detailed training programme which you’d be expected to commit to. This will help develop your knowledge, skills and confidence as a foster carer.

As you can imagine there isn’t a straightforward answer to this question as it all depends on what convictions you have, how long ago they occurred and even what they are and the age you were when you were convicted. What we can tell you is that some foster carers who have been through certain criminal processes, can make excellent foster carers as they present as brilliant role models. Using their own life experiences, they can help guide young people away from the criminal justice system. Having that experience can mean that a young person will be more likely  listen to them and to take their advice.

Foster care is a regulated activity and is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. Under this Act, no conviction or caution is ‘spent’. We will therefore ask you at a very early stage whether you have any past convictions. We really need you to be honest with us, as it is a legal requirement for Unity Foster Care to undertake an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. This will reveal any past convictions. Frequently, failure to disclose a conviction is a bigger issue than the conviction itself.

As foster carers you will be entrusted with the care of another person’s child. Trust is vital to our ongoing relationship and failure to be honest from the start could easily stop your assessment process.

All that said, many people think that their past convictions will stop them from fostering and they’re often wrong. There are clearly some offences, specifically offences against children and young people and certain crimes that would stop some people from fostering. Such offences form part of a ‘barred list’ in law, but we’re happy to have a chat with you and discuss whether your criminal history would stop you from being a foster carer.

If you want to foster, but think something in your past may prevent you, please do give us a call, we'll be happy to chat through any concerns you may have. Alternatively, fill in the on-line form below and we'll get right back to you. 

 

Most definitely yes. Foster children are expected to have their own rooms and privacy, but under certain circumstances siblings can share a room.
This also means that if you have a child returning from university, this won’t count as a spare room.

The legal age to become a foster carer is 21 years. However, here at Unity Foster Care our minimum age limit is 25 years. We have a slightly higher age limit to accurately reflect the age of the children/ young people we have referred to us.

There is not an upper age limit, but much depends on the type of fostering you want to undertake. If in doubt, call us and have a chat.

 

Yes, definitely!

We have many single foster carers who are doing an absolutely fantastic job of providing warm loving homes to vulnerable children and young people. Whether a foster carer is single or in a relationship has little influence on the happiness and outcomes of the young people we care for.

What is absolutely crucial is that any child or young person we place with you, is carefully matched to ensure that you can meet their needs for example, doing the school runs when you may have birth children of school age. It’s also essential, that fostering doesn’t disrupt the needs of your own children or significant others.

The fostering assessment helps identity where your skills are, what experiences you can bring to the fostering role and how fostering is likely to impact on your life and those living at home. The assessment will also look at the support networks you have around you.

So, as much, as it’s really important for any family to have a good support network of friends and family around them to provide practical and emotional support, the same is very true for foster carers.

Whether you are single or not, it is essential that you have a spare room for fostering. A room isn’t spare if you have to move another child from it to create space and nor will we accept a converted living space such as a dining room made into a bedroom.

If you are unsure as to whether your relationship status may stop you from fostering or not, please call us and we’d be happy to have a chat with you.

Of course you can!

We already have foster parents and employees from the LBGTQ community. We appreciate many people from the LBGTQ community have experienced discrimination and negativity during their lives, you can be assured, we will welcome you warmly. In addition, your experiences can provide you with some fantastic insights into the needs of young people and the discrimination and barriers they may face.

We also have young people who may be experiencing gender and sexual identity issues, who may have been rejected by their families and communities with the resulting effect that they then blame themselves for being different or ‘not normal’.

We match children from all backgrounds and experiences with the best families regardless of gender or sexuality. However, sometimes being placed in a specific LBGTQ family can really help a young person feel settled and ‘normal’, but most importantly give them the chance to form positive attachments, lasting relationships and develop a sense of belonging.

Whether you are from the LBGTQ community or not, it is essential that you have a spare room for fostering. A room isn’t spare if you have to move another child from it to create space for a foster child or change its use ie from a dining room to create a bedroom

This will depend upon each child’s unique situation. Children who need permanent care will generally have plans agreed and protected by a Court Order. The decision will already have been made that a child cannot be cared for by their birth parent(s).
However, depending upon the situation there may still be benefit for a child continuing to have some contact with a parent or relative either indirectly (by letter, exchange of photographs etc) or by direct contact. If the placement is short term, there will probably be ongoing and regular contact with the birth family.

Fostering young parents or parent and child fostering, comes in many different shapes and forms. At Unity Foster Care we will structure our support to you, to enable you to care for the many different kinds of young parent fostering you may want to consider.

We’ll try and give you a brief summary of the types of parent and child fostering that can be requested:

  • Young baby with a 14-year-old mother
  • Unborn baby and mother
  • A baby and a parent who is over 18 years.
  • Single father and a baby
  • Two parents and a baby

The above is just a brief example of the many kinds of young parent fostering that can take place. The backgrounds to these parents can be equally varied, in that the parent may be single or with a partner, the baby may be born or unborn at time of placement, the parent may still be a child under 18yrs or an adult.

As well as the different types of young people or parents placed, your role as a foster carer can also be very different in each situation. In some instances, the foster carer role is to advise and guide the parents when it has been identified they may be lacking the skills and abilities to manage without this support.

In other situations, the parent and child may be placed with you as part of a formal court assessment, this would be to help inform the outcomes of care proceedings. You may even be asked to attend court to give evidence, whether what you have to say is in support of the parent or not. The ultimate aim of these processes is to identify how the best outcomes for the child will be achieved and with whom.

The formal assessments can sound scary to someone new to this role, but the decisions made won’t be based purely on your reports and will be taken into consideration with a lot of other reports. And don’t worry about attending Court, we will be with you every step of the way.

We’ve taken some time to try and explain a little more about fostering a young parent, because ultimately it will be up to you to decide what role you undertake and what age ranges you are willing to support.

You don’t have to have parenting experience to care for parent and child foster placements. We have taken many people with no experience of this and have provided training and support to enable them to achieve the skills required to undertake this role. It really is up to you how far you go.

As with all fostering, your home accommodation will need to be suitable to meet the needs of both the parent and the child (who may or may not share their parents’ room). You will need the basic requirements of a spare room and sufficient space in the living areas for the parent to be observed, guided and supported.

Some of our carers provide only parent and child placements and no other type of fostering. If you would like to learn more or have a chat about fostering with young parents, feel free to give us a call. We’d love to hear from you.

Have you an empty nest? Many people decide that the right time to foster is when their own children have left home and they have empty bedrooms and free time.

Whether or not grandchildren have come along yet, many ‘empty nesters’ find fostering rewarding and a great challenge. Our current ‘empty nesters’ also say they feel like they are giving something back and making a huge difference to young people’s lives. We’d have to agree.
As experienced family makers, you will bring a whole host of skills and experiences to the fostering role.

Many of you won’t even have thought about it, such as knowing the way schools work, how to enrol young people into schools, how to advocate for a young person when something isn’t right.

Having raised a family, you’ll know the importance of providing a warm safe and loving home to a vulnerable young person. You’ll have at least the very basic understanding of safeguarding and will understand the need for clear and consistent boundaries.

Fostering is different from raising your own family for example, you won’t have parental responsibility and will be limited in the decisions you can make about the children or young people you look after. However, our role at Unity Foster Care is to support you and guide you through these processes, so you won’t be alone.

We will also provide you with training in the areas you haven’t encountered before and even specialised training to become a specialist foster carer.

We appreciate this is a big step and a decision that needs to be made in a considered way. If you would like an informal chat with us and to ask any questions, feel free to call the free phone number on this page.

Yes, of course you can, however, as with all enquires to become a foster carer, there are many variables which can affect the decisions as to whether this is the right thing for you or the child/young person you may foster.

The key issues we look at are:

  • Is the type of fostering you are interested in.
  • The age range of the children you want to look after.
  • Your health and lifestyle.

So, for example, even though you may be a fit, healthy, active 60 year old, if you want to foster babies on a long-term basis you will be 78 years old as they finish school, even older if they continue through college and university.  On this basis, it is unlikely that a placing local authority will want to place such young children into your care long-term.

However, if you are a fit and active 60 year old who is interested in short-term fostering, then of course we would be love to hear from you.

If you are concerned about your age and ability to foster, feel free to give us a call and we’d be happy to have a chat with you about whether fostering is right for you.

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