Frequently Asked Questions
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People often ask us if they can foster if they:
· are gay or lesbian
· are single, divorced or co-habiting
· have children living at home
· have never had their own children
· have religious beliefs and practices
· have spent time in care themselves
The children / young people we care for are all vulnerable and they need safe carers to look after them. We have foster carers in all of the above categories and none of those issues alone will affect your suitability as a foster carer. It is important that throughout the assessment period we discuss how your lifestyle or background experiences will impact on your ability to care for a fostered child. During that assessment you will also be able to tell us about your skills and experiences.
The most important skills are:
· Being able to understand the emotional, educational, health and care needs of children and young people
· A desire to give a child / young person a home
· Being able to provide a bed and preferably their own bedroom in your home
· The ability to relate to children / young people
· Patience, kindness and understanding
· Good teamwork skills
· Energy and a sense of humour
· Willingness to work with birth families and other relatives
· Commitment to training on an on-going basis – this applies to all adult applicants in a household
· Being able to contribute to meetings and be an advocate for a child/young person in theircare
· We carry out an enhanced criminal record check (CRB) to make sure we do not approve people who have a history of violence or crimes against children.
· You will also have a medical to ensure you are fit enough to care for children.
· A Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check will be carried out on all members of the household aged 18 and over.
· There is a Council check to see if you have had any previous involvement with a social services department.
· If you have children living at home, we will also need school references and a health visitor reference if you have children under six years old.
· References are sought from your employer, friends who have known you for some time, other family members including children and young people not living at home.
· You will also need to consent to your previous partner(s) being contacted.
These checks are necessary because we must make sure that foster children are kept safe whilst in our care.
Not if you’ve been convicted of certain offences, including certain violent offences or crimes against children. However, minor offences committed a long time ago may not affect your application – you will need to discuss this with your assessor. If you do not tell us about a conviction that later comes to light, you could be prevented from fostering. It is important that you are honest with the fostering service about any previous convictions, regardless of the age when committed.
No. It doesn’t matter if you own or rent your home, or if you live in council or housing association accommodation. The important thing is that you are settled and not likely to leave at short notice, that your rent or mortgage payments are up to date, that your house is clean and that you can offer a foster child or young person their own room and private space.
During the assessment process we will discuss with you which children you could foster – there might be some restrictions as to age, depending on the age of any children who already live with you. Your preferences will be taken into account when your completed application is submitted to the fostering panel.
If you have all made the decision to foster as a family and your children are kept fully informed about what is happening at all times, they are likely to find it a rewarding experience – though with occasional frustration!
Applicants must be over 21 years old though there is no upper age limit for foster carers for Blackburn with Darwen Council. All cases are reviewed on an individual basis. We do however ask that younger foster carers are emotionally mature and have experience of being around children and that all foster carers are fit, healthy and active to cope with the pressures of being a foster carer.
We don’t ask for qualifications to become a foster carer – your life experiences, parenting skills (if already a parent) and the qualities you have developed as a result are much more important to us. It is expected however that you have a good understanding of the English language. This is important because as a foster carer we will be asking you to speak at meetings or send in written documents. Once approved, you will be expected to take further training courses and / or to gain relevant qualifications.
It usually takes an average of six months and involves:
Training: It really helps if you are available during the day for the home study. The‘Skills to Foster’ training course is compulsory for all applicants. If a couple make an application to foster, both must attend this training. Training is a sound basis for fostering with the service and gives you an opportunity to discover more about the challenges and rewards of fostering and to meet other new foster carers. Once you are approved to foster, you will also be expected to continue attending other various training courses. You will be told about these on approval.
Fostering panel: The completed Form F, medical reports and all references and CRB checks are presented to the Blackburn with Darwen fostering panel, which determines if applicants are suitable to become foster carers. Carers will be expected to attend the panel meeting to answer questions from the panel members. The panel includes agency members and also people with experience of the needs of children and young people. You will be told if there is a recommendation for approval which is finally agreed by the agency decision maker, you will be sent written notification after the panel.
Approval: Once approved, you will then be considered for specific placements and your details will be matched against any children waiting to be placed. Approved applicants sign a foster carer agreement to work within the National Minimum Standards for Foster Care and the Fostering Regulations 2011. All information collected is held in confidence on the applicant’s file, which can be viewed upon request in accordance with the Data Protection Act.