Who can become a foster carer?

Becoming a foster carer

Fostering is about providing a safe, warm and supportive family environment regardless of age, race, income, sexual orientation or home ownership status. It is about putting children and young people first, enabling them to develop as individuals by supporting them to make their own decisions.

As a carer for Options Fostering we will be with you every step of the way to support and guide you. We are committed to developing strong relationships with our foster carers, ensuring that they have everything they need to do the most rewarding job of all. Options Fostering are signed up to the Foster Carer’s Charter, we value and respect the huge commitment foster carer’s make to the lives of children and young people.

Many people have thought about fostering for a while before taking that first step to applying.  Fostering can be a daunting topic and you’ll no doubt have numerous questions.

Hopefully the following FAQ’s will offer some answers for you, however if you have any questions that are not answered here please do not hesitate to contact us on 01952 468258 for an informal chat or email us if you would prefer at info@optionsgroup.co.uk:

What sort of children will be placed with me/us?

It would be wrong to categorise children and young people into ‘types’. All children and young people are individuals and would therefore have a variety of individual needs. Generally though, children and young people who require foster placements have difficulty with forming relationships and trusting adults. Often they have been let down by adults and believe that all adults are the same. Many children and young people will therefore display complex behaviour but foster carers are not expected to do this alone. Options Fostering has excellent support networks in place and foster carers are trained and supported to manage difficult behaviour. It should be noted that many children and young people who need foster care have suffered some form of abuse or neglect and will need dedicated and nurturing foster carers to help them to move on from these experiences.

Do previous convictions prevent someone from becoming a foster carer?

It would depend of the nature of the conviction and when it occurred. If you have a conviction you should share this with the agency from the onset to enable them to provide advice.

Do I need to own my own property?

No, if you rent you can still foster. The agency would discuss this with you during your assessment and ask for evidence of a tenancy agreement. Children and young people that are fostered would need their own bedroom.

What should my home environment be like?

Your home environment would be considered during the assessment period, for example a health and safety check would be completed. Home environments need to be safe and welcoming.

Can I work and foster?

This would depend on the type of foster placements you wanted to be approved for. Many of our foster carers do work either part time or casual hours, mainly though we have one main carer and it is their partner/spouse who works full time.

Can I choose what gender and age I would like to foster?

Yes, age group and gender would be discussed with you during the assessment process. During this process we would also discuss the type of placement you can offer depending on your circumstances, for example respite or long term.

What will I know about the child coming to live with me/us?

Options Fostering firmly believe in treating foster carers as part of the professional team supporting the children and young people in our care. We therefore include all carers in the planning of placements. A ‘Matching Report’ is completed which provides two sets of details, namely information about the child/young person being fostered and the potential foster carers. We encourage our foster carers to contribute to the form relevant to them and always share the final form with them. For some types of placement, i.e. emergency, having all the information to hand can be difficult due to the speed at which the placement is needed. In these cases Options Fostering will provide additional support and endeavour to obtain all the relevant information within 48 hours.

What school would the child/young person go to and who would take them?

This will depend on where the child/young person is coming from. If they are already settled at a school most local authorities will look for foster carers who live close enough to ensure that they can retain their places. However, many children and young people have to move schools to ensure they can live with the right foster family. Our partners at Young Options College, based at Shifnal, provide interim school placements/full time placements and support with applications to other schools should this be appropriate. We support children and young people to access education provision up to and over the age of 16 years. It is expected, where appropriate, that fosters carers acting in a parental role will take their foster children to school and support the development of independence skills as they get older.

How long does it take to become a foster carer?

Depending on the information shared, on average the timescales are 3-4 months, following preparation training. Options transfer package enables already approved foster carers a much shortened assessment with a 6-8 week assessment period. Deciding to become a foster carer is a big decision and the assessment process is a two way journey. Options Fostering will ensure you are provided with as much information as possible and will answer all your questions honestly.

Do you have to be married to become a foster carer?

No, Options Fostering welcomes all applications regardless of marital status, race, gender etc. If you are in a long term relationship, you have to apply as a couple. If you are single, Options Fostering will look at your support networks. The same would apply for single parents.

We have our own children, can we still foster?

Yes, having your own children does not exclude you for fostering. Options Fostering will take your own children’s needs into consideration and the impact that fostering may have on them. Your children are always considered during the process of matching placements.

Are you part of a team as a foster carer?

Absolutely! You would be part of the professional team at Options Fostering. Training events, support group meetings and social events all help carers to feel part of our team.

Is there any age limit to fostering?

Options Fostering do not discriminate based on age, your health and well being is taken into consideration during the assessment process.

Can same sex couples foster?

Of course, Options Fostering do not discriminate based on sexuality and welcome applicants from anyone interested in making a difference.

Do I need references?

Yes, Options Fostering will ask you to provide a number of references on your application form. If you have worked with children or vulnerable adults, paid or voluntary, in the past we will seek references from previous agencies and organisations.

Do I need a spare room?

Yes, children will need a bedroom of their own.

Will it be scary having children who are not your own living with me?

Foster carers are well prepared through the assessment process. This doesn’t mean he first few nights wont be strange, but there will always be someone on the end of the phone. In the initial stages, new foster carers access the support systems regularly. However a few months down the line we’ll be ringing you as carers feel more confident!

Will I get training?

Options Fostering provide foster carers with a comprehensive training program offering mandatory and developmental training. We make training accessible to those who work by running this weekends and evenings where needed.

For foster carers wanting to use existing skills and experience the agency will support you to become more involved with agency and things such as training, running support groups and peer mentoring.

What payments will I receive?

Options Fostering see fostering as a career and foster carers as professionals. Carers will receive a generous and very competitive skills payment of which there are currently three levels. In addition carers receive a young person’s allowance which increases with age of the child. Payments are made monthly and carers can claim allowances for using own vehicle for certain journeys. Carers also receive additional payments towards holidays and for children’s birthdays and significant festivals/celebrations.

What decisions will I be able to make about the children placed with me?

Options Fostering work with local authorities to complete ‘Delegated Authority’ providing foster carers with agreed day to day decision making responsibility.