The fostering information pack

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1 The fostering information pack Welcome to Dudley Council s fostering service Dudley Council s fostering service, meeting children s needs through high quality care. Our fostering service plays an essential role in making sure Dudley s children are safe and healthy and that they can enjoy life and achieve in their own communities. We work with foster carers and other professionals to provide the best for our children and young people. The dedication, skills, hard work and so much more provided by our foster carers help us to achieve this. We value and respect our foster carers and their families and provide support for them 24 hours a day, every day of the year. We always want to improve the work we do. With the help of our committed foster carers, we can make this happen. This pack is only the start. If you would like to know more, we would love to hear from you. Please contact our fostering recruitment team either: Through our website at: or call us on: What is fostering? Fostering is caring for someone else s child in your family home whilst they cannot live with their family. This is usually because of problems their parents are experiencing such as illness, relationship difficulties or substance misuse. Or the child may have been neglected or abused. Foster carers provide a safe, warm, caring and stable home for a child for as long as they need it. During this time the child is looked after by their Local Authority. We and/or their birth parent have legal responsibility for the child. Alongside this, plans are made for the child s future security and there are usually planned visits or phone calls between the child and their family. Many children will be helped to return home. Our fostering service plays an essential role in making sure Dudley s children are safe and healthy and that they can enjoy life and achieve in their own communities. 1

2 Different types of foster care Mainstream foster care includes: Providing care for children who need immediate safety in a family home are placed with foster carers very quickly. There is little time for preparation or planning. The child usually stays for a few days. Or looking after a child for weeks or months while we work with the child and family and make plans for their future. The child then returns home or moves on to a permanent placement. Foster carers are also needed to provide respite and may look after children for a few days or weeks to help them remain at home with their families or when the usual foster carer needs a break. Flipside foster care This is a type of short term care for young people with complex difficulties. Flipside carers provide preventative special intensive care and therapy on a one-to-one basis. A placement usually lasts up to a year and the aim is for the young people to be able to return to their own families. Permanent foster care Such placements are made once this is decided as the best plan for the child. The child usually stays with the foster carers until able to live independently. Children who need foster placements Children need fostering for many different reasons and for different lengths of time. They are children of all ages and from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Some have disabilities. Some have brothers and sisters and need to live with them. We need a range of different carers to look after these children. Every child is an individual and will react differently to their experiences. Some will be angry, anxious, confused or afraid, which may lead to challenging behaviour. All of them are separated from their families and need foster carers to help them at a difficult time in their lives. We want the very best for our children. Foster carers play a vital part in helping us achieve this for every one of them. 2

3 Who can be a foster carer? Our foster carers are from many different backgrounds. You must be at least 21, but it doesn t matter whether you re: married, living with someone or single living in your own home or renting able-bodied or living with a disability working or unemployed living with your own children or without children male or female heterosexual, gay or lesbian What does matter are your personal qualities and what these offer to a child or young person patience, flexibility, understanding, self-awareness, fairness, determination, being keen to learn and appreciating each child s personality and needs. Flipside Flipside is a type of short term therapeutic fostering for young people aged between 3 and 16 years with complex difficulties. Flipside carers provide preventative special care to individual young people. Carers promote positive behaviours by giving each young person his or her own targets which are reviewed weekly. Some of Flipside s aims are to: Provide better short and long-term outcomes for young people Reinforce appropriate behaviour at school and home Reduce offending behaviour Increase school attendance and participation Helping families to work through conflict Dudley has three programmes running simultaneously and is one of just a handful of local authorities that cover most age ranges: 3-6 year olds, 7-11 year olds and year olds. Carers receive an allowance to provide essentials such as food and clothing and are paid a fee in recognition of their work. Full training is provided and carers receive ongoing support. 3

4 Flipside carers need to believe they can help to make positive changes in young people s lives, people who can: provide a home with a spare bedroom commit 9 to 18 months to the programme be energetic and resilient have no children in the family home under the age of 9 years provide full time care be prepared to work as part of a team drive live within a 20 mile radius of Dudley borough or just outside the borough be calm, self-controlled and not give up on a challenge easily Carers can be couples where one partner is at home or single people who are not in work and have social support networks. Carers may have experience of parenting their own children and/or some professional experience of work with young people although this is not essential. Carers receive the normal fostering allowance to provide essentials such as food and clothing. They are also paid a fee in recognition of the work they are doing with their young person. The Flipside team is always looking to recruit new foster carers to care for children and young people of all age ranges and also to provide temporary breaks for full time carers. The support you can expect We want to support the valuable work of our foster carers in any way we can. We offer support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including: regular contact with a qualified supervising social worker access to a dedicated nurse for your foster child when needed advice from our virtual school for looked after children team membership of the national Fostering Network links to other foster carers and the support of the Dudley Foster Care Association an age related allowance and fee is paid for each child specialised equipment when you need it regular newsletters a detailed handbook regular foster carer meetings and organised social events for you, your own children and your foster child 4

5 We also provide plenty of relevant learning and development opportunities. These begin during the assessment process with our skills to foster preparation course. Your social worker will then help you work towards the Children s Workforce Development Council standards for foster care through a programme designed to fit in with your needs. Keep training Keep is a positive parenting training programme for mainstream foster carers to improve skills and resilience when looking after challenging children. A structured training group provides practical skills and support to give foster carers the confidence to implement positive behaviour change for children and young people. The training also teaches how to use these new behaviour management theories. 5

6 The assessment process If you apply to be a foster carer, we will take you through an assessment process to make sure it is right for you and the child. We have to do this by law. The whole process normally takes between five and eight months. We will contact you within a week of sending out this pack to see whether you are still interested in becoming a foster carer. (If you don t want to wait seven days, you can phone our fostering recruitment team on or contact us through the website at or fill in the form included with this pack). If you have decided to go ahead, one of our social workers will arrange a visit to discuss the next stage. This will give you the chance to ask any questions before you decide if you want to make a formal application. Once you have filled in the formal application our social worker will arrange a series of visits to get to know you and complete their assessment. The assessment considers your background, family lifestyles, sources of support and skills and abilities in looking after children. You will be very much involved in providing information and evidence. The social worker then writes an assessment report which you can see and comment on. We ll carry out various checks, including a criminal records bureau check for all members of your household who are over 18 years old. We will also ask for a medical report from your doctor. If you re working or have worked as a carer, we ll also take references and run checks with your employer and previous employers. With your help we ll carry out a health and safety check of your home and recommend areas for improving safety if needed. We ll ask you to provide a number of references from people who know you well. We ll contact these people for confidential written information and to arrange an interview with them. We ll arrange for you to go on our skills to foster course. This provides more detailed information about fostering and gives you the chance to talk to our social workers and other people who ve applied to be foster carers. This course takes place regularly. Our fostering panel will need to consider the report and make recommendations to one of our decision-makers. You will be at the panel meeting and so will find out directly whether your application has been successful or not. 6

7 Your questions answered Do I need a spare bedroom? Yes, as all children and young people need some space to call their own. There are some circumstances where children can share for example, young babies. You can discuss this with your social worker during your assessment How will I know if I can care for a child with specific needs or from a particular age group if I don t already have that experience? The assessment process helps you explore your strengths and what you can offer a child. We ll discuss a child s needs with you before you decide whether you want to go ahead with a placement. Some children need a foster placement in an emergency but you ll still have the opportunity to ask questions before you go ahead. Will I have to give up work? It depends on the kind of foster care you want to offer and how flexible your employer or family are. Flipside carers can be couples where one partner is at home or a single person who is not in work and has social support networks. For more information about being a Flipside carer go to page **. Will I have to pay tax? It s unlikely. The allowance we pay is to meet the needs of your foster child and you re not classed as our employee. For more detailed tax advice, you should consult your local tax office or financial adviser. Will I receive training? Yes all our foster carers must complete the mandatory training we offer including the skills to foster course. Additional training courses will be available including the popular Keep training (please see the information on page 5). I smoke can I be considered? We want our children to be as healthy as possible, so we follow recognised guidelines. If you smoke, your social worker will discuss the guidelines with you during the assessment process. We don t place children under five years old or those with physical conditions such as breathing problems or heart disease in homes where anyone smokes. We will always include the risk of passive smoking in our assessment. 7

8 Your own children and fostering Foster carers own children tell us that fostering has taught them to share not just their home, toys and possessions but their parents, wider family and time. They felt a range of different emotions but often found the experience satisfying and worthwhile. Foster children tell us how important the foster carers own children are in making a placement work well. The children may spend a lot of time together, so it s crucial that your own children are prepared for the changes and challenges of fostering. They will be very much involved in the assessment process as their views and contribution to fostering are essential. If you re approved as a foster carer, we ll also consult your children as part of the review process. We organise social events for foster carers, their families and the children they look after a time for laughter and fun whilst meeting other people with similar experiences. We care, we share group The group is open to the birth children of carers up to the age of 18. The group is an opportunity for the sons and daughters of foster carers to meet and make friends with others in the same situation. This time together is a chance for them to talk about the positives and challenges of foster caring and improve their understanding and knowledge about what fostering is. The children who foster group run regular events and activities as well consultation groups, giving children who foster the recognition they deserve. 8

9 Why do you foster? Liz Bentley, Starting fostering on 1993 There are always families visiting my home, we get through an awful lot of tea and toast and I wouldn t have it any other way, it s the best job in the world. I became a foster carer in 1993 and since then I have looked after hundreds of teenagers. My husband and I were encouraged by a friend to consider fostering teenagers as we had already provided respite care for people in our family. Not so many people like looking after teenagers but I believe they need a chance as much as any other child. I was 40 when we started to foster and two of our three sons were still at home. They coped really well with our expanding family. So well in fact that one of our sons is now a foster carer himself. I ve lost count of the number of children we have fostered. Some come for brief spells while an issue at their own home is being resolved, others have stayed for up to five years. Many still keep in touch though. One girl is in her 30s now, she was 12 when she came to live with us. She lives out of the area but always phones, writes and visits twice a year. It s wonderful to see their progress. When I lost my husband seven years ago fostering really helped me. It gave me a purpose to carry on and it still does. No two days are the same. I couldn t imagine not fostering although that is not to say it doesn t have its ups and downs. I have three sons and six grandchildren and I look after my 97-year-old mom who lives with me. Fostering is my way of doing a bit of good for someone. When children come to live with me I expect them to join in with what I m doing. I have house rules and they need to respect my home which they do. I teach them things like gardening, cooking and we go on walks. I take them fishing and we play board games. I try to go back a bit. My hobby is crown green bowling and my foster children will come along and watch matches when I play. Often it is the simple things even older children enjoy and in many cases have missed out on because of their chaotic family circumstances. It s simple really. They just need some tender loving care. TLC is what it is all about. When a young person arrives as far as I am concerned it is with a fresh slate and we go from there. Decide to go ahead? If you ve read the information in this pack and would like to go ahead with your application to foster a child or young person, please fill in this form and return it in the envelope provided (you don t need a postage stamp). If you have any additional queries please give us a call. 9

10 Your name:... Your address (including postcode):... Your phone number:... Many thanks for your interest. Monitoring information To help us improve our service, please answer the following questions. 1. Did you receive this pack within five working days of asking for information? 2. Did the pack include details of fostering allowances? 3. Was there anything in the pack that you particularly liked? 4. Was there anything in the pack that you didn t like? 5. Is there any other information you would like to see included in the pack? 6. Did the pack give you enough information to decide whether you wanted to take your interest further? 7. Do you plan to find out more about fostering? Yes No Comment 8. What did you think of the information in the pack? 9. How would you rate the presentation of the pack? Thank you for your help Very Very useful Useful Average Poor poor 10

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