Fostering Recruitment Team London Borough of Barnet Building 4, North London Business Park Oakleigh Road South London N11 1NP

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1 Fostering Recruitment Team London Borough of Barnet Building 4, North London Business Park Oakleigh Road South London N11 1NP Phone:

2 Background information about Barnet Barnet has the largest population of any London Borough at nearly 345,000. Over a quarter of residents belong to a minority ethnic group; the largest ethnic groups are Indian, Black African and Chinese. Barnet also has the highest proportion of Jewish residents of any London Borough at 1.8% There are over 72,000 people under the age of 18 in Barnet. Almost 3,000 children in the borough come under the government classification of children in need and of these a proportion will require a greater level of support that may involve the fostering service. When a child comes into care the local authority becomes responsible for that child. It is their duty to find a safe and suitable place for that child to live, for however long is needed. This may be foster care, a residential school or children s home. There are currently 240 children and young people under the age of 16 in the care of Barnet Council. Of these, about 109 children are being looked after by our own internal foster carers and 79 children are placed with external foster carers from Independent Fostering Agencies (IFAs). We will always try to place a child with our one of own foster carers before using external IFAs. This is because: external foster carers may not be always be local, making it difficult for the child to continue attending their existing school and maintain links with friends and family. Barnet s own foster carers are in the best position to access local services, to ensure needs are met swiftly and fully. Although Barnet s foster carers allowances are very competitive, it costs the council on average 43% more per placement to use an IFA rather than one of our own carers as IFAs are usually for-profit companies. What is fostering? Foster carers provide a safe and nurturing home for a child who cannot live with their parents. It is hoped that a child coming into the care of the council will be able to return to the care of their parents or stay within their birth family. However this is not always possible. Why do some children need fostering? A child may need to be fostered for a variety of reasons, such as: an illness in the family where emergency care is needed; a child may have suffered abuse or neglect, or a breakdown in family relations; sometimes children arrive unaccompanied from abroad.

3 Who can foster? Single people or couples can foster. Applicants who are in a relationship need to undertake fostering jointly. You do not need to have children of your own, although you must have had some experience with caring for children. You can be male or female. Your sexuality is unimportant; you can be heterosexual, lesbian or gay. We welcome enquiries from all national, racial and faith backgrounds. You do not need to own your own home. Sometimes people who enquire about fostering need to build or test their skills, such as in English literacy or in caring for children in the age group they would like to foster. We often can help set up voluntary experiences to provide this. What would stop me from being able to foster? Few circumstances automatically prevent someone from being able to foster. Obviously, people who have committed offences against children are excluded from fostering. Are there different types of fostering? There are different types of fostering to match the various needs of children in care. Task centred (short term) fostering This is where foster carers look after a child for anything from a couple of weeks to a couple of years while we are working with the family to try and get the child back home; or if this is not possible then on to a permanent placement such as adoption. Long term / Permanent fostering Sometimes children will not be able to return to live with their own families or within their networks. If adoption is not appropriate, then long term fostering is considered. This will allow a child to grow up in a safe and supported family environment, usually whilst retaining the connection with their birth family. This generally applies to older children. Respite care Respite is a short placement, used for example to provide care whilst the child s normal foster carer is not available.

4 What space do I need at home? If you want to foster children over the age of two you need to have a spare bedroom for the foster child to stay in. Non-related fostered children cannot share a bedroom with each other, or with you or your own children. There must also always be a bedroom for your own children. We cannot allow your own children to share with you in order for a room to be freed up for fostering. If you do not have a spare room but would like to foster you may wish to consider fostering babies, as children up to 24 months can have a cot in their foster carer's bedroom. Will I have to give up my job to foster? Individuals can work, however their work patterns must allow for someone to be at home and available for the children in their care as needed, including before and after school and in holiday periods. Carers must also be available to attend meetings and training. Fostering can throw up unexpected demands; even if the fostering household has two adults sharing the foster care responsibilities, it is important to have a good support network of friends or family who can help out as needs be. Do I have to be from a particular racial or religious background? We want to recruit carers from all racial and religious groups to reflect the diversity of the children in Barnet s care. Whenever possible children need to be fostered by carers who closely reflect their birth family. What responsibilities will I have? Fostered children should have the same opportunities to fulfil their potential as children who live with their parents. In order for this to happen you need to be able: To provide a safe and caring family home in which children are happy and supported well around their needs and interests. To support the child s education, for instance by making sure that the child attends school and helping them to learn at home. You also will need to be available to take and collect young children from their current school. You will attend parents evenings and other school meetings. To take children to contact sessions with birth parents and other relatives and support them around their feelings about having to live away from home. (Contact normally takes place in our contact centre rather than the foster carer s own home.) To ensure the child remains fit and healthy and to give them a positive understanding of their origins, religion and culture.

5 As necessary, to support the child through the transition of moving home or on to another family. If looking after an adolescent, to help them prepare for leaving care. What skills do I need to foster? Although you do not need any special qualifications, people do need particular skills, abilities and personal attributes to enable them to be successful foster carers. These are called competencies. They were developed by foster carers, child care professionals and young people who were fostered themselves and the competencies are nationally recognised. If you decide to apply to be a foster carer your assessment will be based on the competencies outlined below. Caring for children Providing a safe and caring environment Working as part of a team Your own development What training and support will I get? It is very important to us that you feel fully supported in your role as a foster carer. That is why we will offer you: A free 3 day Skills to Foster training course before you make a formal application to become a foster carer. A free Safer Caring training course whilst you are in assessment. Free on-going training once you are approved as a carer to build on your skills. This year our training programme offered over fifty different courses on a range of topics from Dealing with challenging behaviour to Record Keeping and First Aid. Foster carers are expected to undertake continuous professional development, from courses or other learning activities. A dedicated local supervising social worker who will meet with you regularly and be there to support you on a day to day basis. 24hr / 7 days a week duty social worker support, so if you have a problem in the middle of the night there is always someone to turn to. Dedicated support from our local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. A local foster carer support group and invitations to events such as our annual celebration evening and Christmas party. Free membership of Barnet Foster Carers Association. Run by Barnet foster carers for Barnet foster carers. The association offer lots of peer support and fun social events such as day trips to the seaside and Thorpe Park, Bollywood evenings, and drop-in coffee mornings. Free membership of the Fostering Network, an independent charity which offers information, training and advice to foster carers.

6 How will I be matched with children? Your supervising social worker will suggest a child whom they feel would be a good match for you and your family and discuss the situation with you. It is your decision whether or not to take in a particular child. Our foster carers normally are approved for a specific age range rather than for 0-18 year olds (like some fostering agencies do). The assessment process will help you to decide what age range will work best for you, your family and your skill set. What payments will I receive for fostering? Payment consists of two parts: a maintenance element to cover the costs of caring for a child and a skill based fee as a reward. Special payments are also made for birthdays, Christmas and family holidays. Foster carers are classed as self employed and need to complete an annual self assessment tax form. There are special tax breaks given on income from fostering. You will be exempt from paying tax on the first 10,000 a year plus 200 a week for each child under 11 and 250 a week for each child aged 11 and over. Income from fostering does not affect any means tested benefits, such as Income Support or Housing Benefit. Allowances and fees Maintenance - to cover a child s basic needs, the amount varying with the age of the child o Age weekly per child o Age weekly per child A skill based fee - for the care you provide the children and young people o Level weekly per child (newly approved carer) o Level weekly per child o Level weekly per child (progression on assessment) The total amount you will receive will depend on the number of children you are caring for, the age of the children you are caring for and your level of experience. Examples: 1 child under 12, newly approved carer 366 per week 1 child under 12, level 2 carer 396 per week 2 children over 12, newly approved carer 850 per week

7 How do I become a foster carer? There are three main steps to becoming approved as a foster carer for Barnet. These are listed below: 1. Initial assessment visit A member of our team will come to your home to complete an initial assessment. The visit normally lasts around an hour and a half. Fostering involves all family members, so partners and your own children need to be present for the visit. It is important to be honest and open during the visit. The member of our team who visits you will check that your home is suitable for fostering and ask you questions about your: Parenting and family lifestyle Motivation to foster Significant past relationships Experience in working with children Family size and family plans Recent significant events After the visit we will write up a short report. If we think you have potential and you are happy to continue you will be invited onto the next step Skills to Foster training 2. Skills to Foster training You and your partner (if applicable) will be invited to attend our three day Skills to Foster training and assessment course. The course covers: What do foster carers do? Identity and Life Chances Working with others Understanding children in foster care Safer caring Transitions The course is run by one of our current foster carers and a member of our team so you will be able to gain a really in depth idea of what fostering involves. You will also get chance to chat to a young person who has experienced foster care. We also run a separate half day training session for your own children, if you have any over the age of five. They will meet some of our foster carers own children and find out what fostering might mean for them. After the course we again will consider your potential. If we feel you could make a good foster carer and you are happy to continue we will send you an application form and invite you to begin the final stage Form F assessment.

8 3. The Form F assessment process A social worker is allocated to have in depth discussions with you over an average of five months. It is a chance for self reflection. Your assessing social worker will support you to examine in detail whether you have strong potential to become a foster carer. We are not looking for faults, but ensuring fostering is right for you. We need to compile evidence on how, from your personal or/and work experience, you meet the fostering competencies and standards for foster care. Applicants can find the Form F process very intrusive; but it needs to be so we can be sure that children placed with you will be safe and well cared for. Honesty and a potential to develop your skills is more important than perfection. As part of the assessment process we will need to carry out various checks including: CRB checks for everyone over the age of 16 living in your home Local Authority checks for each authority area where you have lived in recent years A full health assessment, to ensure you are fit enough for the task of fostering Health and safety checks on your home including gas and electric checks Finance checks to make sure you are financially stable Employers and personal references School reports for your own children, if you have any We also will need to talk to extended family members, any ex-partners you have had children with and other significant recent household members. At the end of the assessment, the assessing social worker will compile a report to be presented to Barnet s fostering panel for approval. The fostering panel is made up of 8-10 people; they include foster carers from other boroughs, people who have had experience of being in care, councillors, social workers and other independent experts. You and your assessing social worker will be invited to attend the panel meeting as the panel may have questions they wish to ask you. After discussing your Form F they will decide whether to recommend you are approved as a foster carer or not. We do not normally put people forward for panel unless we are confident they will be approved.

9 From initial enquiry to starting fostering You contact us Discussion / invite to information session Sessions take place weekly to fortnightly Initial assessment visit We aim to carry out an initial visit within five working days of your request for one Fostering assessment Form F completed We aim to complete your assessment within five months Training and preparation course: Skills to Foster Courses held monthly Total process takes 6 9 months to complete Fostering Panel and approval The fostering panel meets monthly Carers ready for placements Ongoing training, supervision and support

10 The next step Thank you for your time. We hope that we have answered some of your questions. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions guide for answers to other commonly asked questions. If you feel that fostering could be right for you please contact us to discuss arranging an information session or an initial assessment visit. If you feel there is anything you want to discuss further, please call on the number below or send us an . Thanks Barnet Fostering Recruitment Team

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