Adoption and Fostering – What’s the Difference?

Many people contact us to learn more about fostering in the West Midlands. One of the questions we get asked is whether or not they will be able to adopt children via our fostering services. We provide specialist fostering services and not adoption services in the Midlands. Fostering isn’t the same as adoption. Let’s take a closer look at the differences.

Fostering provides children and young people with a home and home environment during periods of time when they’re unable to stay at their own family home. The foster carers don’t ever have parental responsibility for the children or young people in their care. They may needed to be fostered for a couple of days or for longer periods, but many children will go back to live with their own family. Sometimes the children stay in long term foster care but they want to remain in contact with their own family, even if they can’t go and live with their families again. These children will continue to receive support from the health and social care trust of from the local authority.

Adoption is different from fostering. Adoption gives the children who can’t live with their families a new family and family home. The new parents or adopters are legally given full parental responsibility.  The children or young people will no longer have any legal ties to their birth parents. They also gain the new family name and become a full member of the family.

It is important to know the differences between fostering and adoption. It’s also extremely important to think about what path is right for you. Do you want to adopt or would you prefer to become a foster carer in the Midlands? These may be difficult decisions to make, so do your research and take your time. Please remember that we are happy to speak to you about fostering and help you to make an educated decision on your fostering journey.

Foster Care and Record Keeping

Record keeping quickly becomes part life for foster carers. However, many people who make enquires on becoming a foster carer in Worcestershire have no idea that record keeping is involved. Today we will share some information on record keeping and foster care but please remember to give us a call if you have any questions, we’re here to chat.

Why is Record Keeping an Essential Part of Fostering?

Foster care is like any type of job when it comes to paperwork. Paperwork cannot be avoided, it’s essential and as part of foster caring you ill need to create detailed assessments of the children that are placed with you. The foster carers also play a role in the planning of services for the children too. Foster carers may also need to attend case conferences or court, meetings and statutory reviews, therefore having written support for all of these occasions is called for.

The reasons above are why all foster carers need to record the day to day events in the home. These recordings can be used at a later date but the children can also read them at any time. The information can be used by you at any point, but the records do belong to the fostering service.

Don’t Let the Paper Work Put You Off Fostering

Paper work might sound daunting but there’s no need to be worried. We will provide you with the information and training you need and we’re here to support you along your entire journey. You will quickly see how keeping records become part of daily life and learn vital skills you need, such as:

  • How to keep records
  • What to record in your paperwork
  • Where to keep your records
  • Where to store records
  • Confidentiality and data protection

Paperwork and record keeping is there to provide you with the information you need for a number of different circumstances. It’s also useful for reviews and the written support can provide you with valuable written documents of experiences and happenings.

Don’t sit in the dark, let us shed light on fostering, paperwork and what is involved for all of our foster carers in Worcestershire. Call us or send us a message and have your fostering questions answered by our friendly experts.

Further Reading: Record Keeping

Children’s Social Care at Breaking Point

The Local Government Association, representing 370 councils across England and Wales, has issued a warning that children’s social care is now at breaking point.  The increase in demand for support has led to 75% of councils overspend by over half a billion pounds.  The overspending was to provide protection for children that were considered to be at immediate risk.

Huge Rise in the Demand for Children’s Social Care

The need for children’s social care has increased dramatically in recent years and it doesn’t seem as if this demand will decrease in the near future. In 2015/16 there were 170,000 child protection enquiries compared with 71,800 in 2005/06. During the same period, the number of children on child protection plans rose by 24,000. As cuts to local authority budgets continue which means difficult decisions are being made on where to allocate resources.

The Local Government Association has warned that the pressures on these services are becoming unsustainable. As it stands, the funding cap is expected to reach 2 billion in the next 3 years. Therefore urgent action is needed to try and reduce the amount of families that need children’s social care systems.

The Fostering Network Responds to the LGA Warning

The Fostering Network published a response to the warning by the Local Government Association.  They stated that they have been concerned about the unsustainable pressure that has been placed on children’s social care budgets. They are very worried about the impact the budget cuts are having on the well-being of vulnerable children, which includes fostered children in their tens of thousands. Austerity will have long term effects on these children, which cannot be permitted to happen.

Foster carers need to be provided with adequate training, support and be paid so they’re able to support the children in their care. The Fostering Network has called on the Government to ensure funding is provided for foster care so that children can be looked after, given the opportunity to thrive and grow into successful adults.

Replacing Foster Care with Boarding School

The government is aiming to encourage local authorities to send vulnerable young people to boarding school instead of full-time foster care.  Children have already been funded by their local council to attend a boarding school in this way. Currently, roughly 100 children are at boarding schools rather than in full-time foster care, but the government is hoping to increase this number.  The new Department for Education funded service titled Boarding School Partnership (BSP) hopes a number of young people in this position will be increased to 2000.

The challenge facing the BSP is encouraging local authorities to learn more about the impact boarding school placements have. An earlier research project was dropped as there weren’t enough referrals put forward from social workers.

Children Were Sent to Boarding Schools Over 60 Years Ago

Boarding school placements aren’t a new concept as children were sent to boarding schools 60 years ago. Unfortunately, there are no statistics for the boarding school placements that took place at that time, but it is estimated that there were at least 10,000 placements in the sixties. That number dropped dramatically in the seventies and eighties and up until recently, there’s been difficulty in gaining support from Labour and the Conservatives. Currently, there are 22 local authorities involved and a further 85 local authorities have now signed up since the beginning of July 2017.

Boarding Schools or Foster Care?

Another challenge is the selection process as the children need to be strong, resilient and positive so they can cope with any difficulties that might arise. Problems with alienation and disconnection from your community need to be considered. Dr. Amelia Roberts, the deputy director of the UCL Centres for Inclusive Education says that they must think about risk and resilience when thinking about the attachment theory. Children will need to be resilient when going into the boarding school environment. They will also need strong social skills and an ability that will make the transition process easier.

Further reading: BSP

What is Attachment?

Attachment Foster carersAttachment has a lasting effect. Secure attachments will influence the entire life of a person, as will insecure attachment. Foster carers have training and resources that help them to fully understand attachment, how it develops and the problems that can be caused by difficulties in attachment.

Attachment is the bond that is found between a person requiring care from their caregiver. In times of stress or worry, a person will turn to the caregiver to help them. Attachment happens at all ages, but it is only automatic in babies and young children. As the child grows up they won’t automatically attach to the person who is trying to be the caregiver. Babies, on the other hand, will attach to those giving care, even if they are not doing a good job of meeting their needs. All that matters to the baby is that there is someone that they identify as a caregiver.

Free Attachment Resource

There is an excellent resource that is available for everyone to read. The Fostering Network has published A Foster Carer’s Guide to Attachment and Stories. You can find the resource by following this link. It’s a very useful publication that discusses the relationship between attachment and storytelling, the three T model of storytelling and provides further information. Training is also available on attachment.

We provide our foster carers with ongoing training, both online and in person. We also provide round the clock support services, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our foster carers receive formal and informal training, a foster care handbook and a personal development plan. We provide mentor support and supervision and additional support from our qualified and experienced social workers. Furthermore, we hold regular support group meetings, activities and more. Ask us about additional training and support and find out more about becoming a foster carer in the Midlands.

What to Consider When Fostering in the Midlands

We are always keen to speak to anyone who is interested in fostering in the Midlands. Foster carers are in short supply and there are many children who need your help. The circumstances surrounding the needs and requirements of the child will vary, but there are a few things that remain consistent for foster carers.  Here are a few of the criteria that are needed from foster carers:

  • Foster carers need to be 21 years of age
  • You must have a spare bedroom that can belong to the child while they are in your care. This shouldn’t be a shared space or a duel use room. It also needs to be big enough for the child to live in comfortably.
  • It’s essential that you have time to care for the young person or child. A lot of the time you will need to be available full-time.
  • You’re a full-time resident of the UK or you have leave to remain

These are the criteria that are usually required by all fostering services in the Midlands and the rest of the UK. We do ask any potential foster carers to give us a call if they have any questions about the above criteria. This is even the case if you think you don’t meet the criteria, we’re always willing to have a chat with you and discuss possible changes that could be made.

Have You Thought it Through?

There are some other things that you should consider when enquiring about fostering in the Midlands. They are as follows:

  1. Your financial health. Are you financially able to afford the cost of fostering a child or young person, or even a group of siblings? Information on foster care finances can be found, here. We will also be happy to discuss finances with you.
  2. How fit and healthy are you? Are you in fit condition to take care of children and young people?
  3. Do you have people in your life that will support you? We provide all of our foster carers with support and training but it helps if you have family and friends that will support you too.
  4. Do you have any experience with children and/or young people that will assist you when fostering?
  5. Is your home suitable for housing a child or young person? Is it safe?
  6. Do you have any past convictions? Have you lived abroad? If you’re unsure about the impact your past may have on fostering we ask that you get in touch.

As a foster carer in the Midlands, you’ll become part of a close-knit team. You’ll be a vital part of that team, which is centred around achieving what is best for the child or young person(s) in your care. You certainly won’t be alone in your journey, but you will also need to be confident and resilient and prepared to deal with any bad times as well as the good.

Learn More About Fostering in the Midlands

We hope that the above will give you an idea of what we’re looking for, but remember we are prepared to listen and provide you with answers to your questions. The next step is for you to give us a call or send us a message. We’re excited to hear from you.

What’s Expected from Foster Carers

Many people toy with the idea of becoming a foster carer. Sadly, the idea rarely comes to fruition as people are left unsure about what might be expected from them. The uncertainty often kicks in before the potential carers even pick up the phone to make an enquiry. We do recommend that you give us a call to learn more about foster care. But we’re here today to let you know what it is that foster carers actually do.

Provide Care, Support and Stability

Foster carers work with children in their care, providing care, support and stability. They provide protection to the child or children by working together with other professionals that make up the team. In many cases, the foster carer will provide the children with the first positive family life experience.
The amount of children taken into your care will depend on your own personal circumstances. Most carers will not take more than three children at a time, unless larger sibling groups require a home. The ages and the amount of any other children in the home will be taken into account when deciding how many children to foster. Fostering is flexible as there are many different types of carers that are required, which include:

• Short term carers stepping in during times of emergencies
• Short term placements
• Long term placements
• Foster carers specialising in particular age groups
• Foster carers skilled to look after disabled children
• Foster carers providing care for unaccompanied asylum seeking children
• Caring for asylum seeking young parents and their children

You’ll be giving foster children with day to day care. The expectations include:

• Supporting their educational needs
• Being an advocate for the child
• Supporting health and social wellbeing
• Keeping records at home
• Working with the team to provide support, care and security
• Managing behaviour that may be challenging
• Learning new skills to support your care

Some of the personal skills you’ll need include being patient, resilient and being confident in dealing with potentially challenging situations. You’ll be committed to providing the care the children need, giving your time and your energy.

We provide our foster carers with ongoing support and training opportunities. We hope that we have answered some of the questions you may have. It is important to research into the different fostering options available to you. Please send us a message or give our office a call for a relaxed chat with one of our team to learn more.

Response to The Fostering System in England Review

The Fostering Network has published their response to The Fostering System in England Review.  The review was published on July 18, 2017. It was funded by the Department for Education to provide information for Westminster Government’s national stocktake of fostering.  Many people were involved in the review, including independent fostering agencies, local authorities and Emma Balmforth and colleagues.

Foster Care Has a Positive Impact on a Young Person’s Life

Jackie Sanders, the director of communications and public affairs at The Fostering Network responded in an article on the website. The leading UK charity was happy to see that the reviewers responded positively to the impact that foster care has on children and young people in care. The report stated that many of the children in foster care do go on to have a happy, healthy and productive life. They also stated that many of the children go on to view the care they received in a positive light.

The review highlighted how austerity has impacted fostering. Local authorities have, up until recently, tried to ensure that any cuts would not have an impact on the outcomes for fostered children.  The government need to provide sufficient funding for child services to stop the most vulnerable young people and children from being affected.

Placement Stability is Important to the Outcome

Ms Sanders goes on to mention that the outcome of fostered children is highly dependent on placement stability. Therefore it is important to place children and young people in the right placement from the very start.  It’s essential for foster care recruitment is targeted and also based on need. Local authorities need to run recruitment campaigns that are actually targeting the right carers to meet the needs in the area. Furthermore, it’s essential to retain suitable carers. Foster carers should be respected and provided support and ongoing training and treated as co-professionals.

Read the full response provided by Ms Sanders over on The Fostering Network website.  The full review can be read, here. We would like to remind you that we provide our foster carers with all the support and training they need to ensure they are capable of being the best foster carer for the young people in their care.  We are always looking to recruit new foster carers in the Midlands. Please give us a call to discuss your options and learn more about fostering.

Help Stop Siblings Being Split Up in Foster Care

Large amounts of children are sadly separated from their brothers and sisters in foster care. In 2014 almost half of sibling groups went to different foster homes according to Action for Children.  The reason why so many are not kept together is simple. There’s a shortage of foster carers who have the ability to take care of groups of children. It’s essential to try and fill this shortage in faster carers to help ensure sibling groups can remain together when they’re at their most vulnerable.

Open Your Hearts and Your Homes

Groups of brothers and sisters continue to come into care. It is beneficial for the children to remain together. This may include groups of 2 children but sometimes it may be as many as 3 or 4. We are continuing our search to find new foster carers or existing foster carers keen on transferring, to open their homes to these children. By keeping the children together they are able to settle quicker and keep their sibling bond intact.

7,000 New Foster Carers are Required in the UK

The Fostering Network reports that there is a need to find 7,000 new foster carers in the UK. Foster carers who have the essential skills that are needed to provide loving, safe and secure homes to children at their time of need. If you think you could help or you would like to learn more about the possibility of becoming a foster carer in Worcestershire and the West Midlands, we’d love to hear from you.

Preparing for Your First Foster Child

Once you have been approved it won’t be long before you’re opening your home to your first foster child. This time can be exciting but also quite daunting, these are completely natural emotions. We remind our carers that we are here to give our support, but that’s not the only support available. All of our approved foster carers are registered with The Fostering Network.  The Fostering Network is the leading fostering charity here in the UK. They offer additional support and advice for carers and their families.

Preparing to Foster in the Midlands

In most cases, the children will meet the foster carers before they are placed.  The carers may also meet the family of the children beforehand, helping to develop a strong relationship to benefit the child and the whole family. You will need to share household rules with the children, giving a clear understanding of the daily routines and also hobbies and activities the family members are involved in. It’s important to establish the rules and expectations in the early stages and explain the consequences of not following the house rules.  The creation of ‘safer caring’ policies helps to ensure the child feels safe and that they are not going to be harmed by anyone in the home.

The bedroom will need to be prepared. All foster children must have a room of their own. Make it welcoming and provide them with a safe space that they can call their own for the duration of their stay with you.

The foster child is highly likely to be experiencing a number of strong emotions when they arrive at your home. Common emotions include confusion and isolation. They may not understand their own feelings or express them.  This is when you’ll need to help the child to feel safe and secure in your home.  If you have any concerns or questions about preparing for fostering a child, please get in touch.