Have you been considering becoming a foster carer in the Midlands? Fostering is a challenging and rewarding job that really makes a difference. There are countless individuals, couples and families that have thought about fostering for years, but many never take any further action. If you want to help give a child a better life in 2018 why not begin by taking a simple step forward?
Researching into Fostering
You’ve thought about becoming a foster carer now it’s time to do your research. There are plenty of different options available to you. We are an independent foster agency in Worcestershire, there are others along with local authorities that you can choose to sign up with. We recommend doing as much research into all the different agencies and your local authority to find the right match for you. Look at websites, read their literature and get in touch to find out more.
We welcome all kinds of enquiries via email, directly through our website or over the phone. We don’t expect anything from you and our friendly team will supply you with all the information you require to help you make the right decision for you and your family.
What to Research
There are several types of fostering services. Here are a few tips on the type of information to use to help you decide if you’d like to start the journey into becoming a foster carer.
- Ask for information packs and for information about the application process
- Ask about the type of foster carers they are looking for – some agencies want carers for babies, others need carers for teenagers, siblings or children with disabilities and so on.
- Is support given to the foster carers and how is that support delivered?
- How much training is provided or required?
- What do the other foster carers say about the LA or independent agencies in your area
- Allowances and fees – will financial factors make it impossible to foster?
- Do they have a presence on social media?
We’re an independent fostering agency based in Worcestershire. We are currently recruiting new foster carers and families across the West Midlands. Please get in touch if you would like to learn more about us and our foster carers.
The Guardian is giving foster carers the opportunity to share their personal foster story. This is a fantastic opportunity to share what it’s really like to be a foster carer. Stories from those with experience can be vital to help shape the future of fostering but also to help those thinking of becoming a foster carer.
The paper is asking for input from all foster carers, where they work with a council, an independent agency or a charity. Working as a foster carer is not an easy job, it is full of challenges and recent cuts have added to the difficulties that are experienced by some. Another issue is dealing with the complex needs of children in the 21st Century. So now is the time to share your thoughts and experiences. To take part in the survey you will need to complete the encrypted form, found here.
Enter As Much Information as You Wish
You will be asked for your name and there’s a place to enter more information such as your age, location and what you do. Enter as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. The next questions revolve around fostering, when you became a foster carer and how many children have you fostered.
The following questions give you the freedom to express your own personal experiences in as much detail as you wish. The first of these questions is simply asking you what it’s like to be a foster carer. The final one is for foster carers who have changed to an independent fostering agency from working for the council, asking what the experience was like.
Share for Information Only or Choose Potentially Share Publically
There is a box asking if you are happy to have your responses published. Here you have the choice to deny the request, to allow it publically or to have your answers published anonymously. If you are happy to go public with your response, there’s an option to add a photograph. The survey ends with an empty box where you can add any extra information.
Do you want to share your experience of being a foster carer? Click on the link above and share your foster journey.
The Fostering Network has responded to the House of Commons Education Committee Report on Fostering in England. The report follows an inquiry that began back in October 2016. For the report, The Fostering Network produced both written and oral evidence and they played a vital role in convincing the committee that an inquiry was needed.
The report has been welcomed by The Fostering Network. Kevin Williams, the chief executive of The Fostering Network has responded, and the information is freely available on their website. It is hoped that many of the recommendations will be reflected in the Governments fostering stocktake. Furthermore, The Fostering Network have stated that they are in agreement with the conclusion that states that the government should perform a full care system review instead of considering all of the elements of the system separately.
Many of the recommendations made by The Fostering Network have been included, such as:
- The need for all foster carers to have an allowanced that covers all costs
- More funding to make staying put work
- Recognising foster carers and child care experts that are an equal part of the team
- Access to whistleblowing legislation
Additionally, the following is evidence that the committee has paid close attention to the recommendations made by the sector.
- Importance of listening to children
- Foster carers to be provided with more information about the children
- Improved matching
- Improved placement stability
- Improved support
The report included a call for consultation surrounding a national college for foster carers. While this is welcomed by The Fostering Network, there is some confusion as this is not consistent with the statements made regarding foster carers not being classified as professionals.
The Fostering Network recognises the importance of raising awareness for the need of more foster carers. They help drive awareness with Foster Care Fortnight, something we support each year. However, they do point out that recruitment is best performed locally and that the fostering services need to know who they are looking for to improve their own targeting. Additionally, foster families require proper payment, which isn’t included in the report.
Learn more by reading the full response over on The Fostering Network website.
Foundation Fostering is working hard to increase the number of foster carers in the Midlands in 2018.
We hope that individuals, couples and families with children will all consider offering children and young people a warm and loving home for the months and years ahead. Opening your doors to children that are unable to live with their birth families is one of the most incredible things you can do. After celebrating Christmas and welcoming in the New Year, perhaps now is the best time to start your fostering journey at last. Hopefully, by this Christmas, your home will be filled with even more love and light than it was in 2017.
Giving foster children happy memories, stable support and a safe home is one gift that will never grow old. It’s a gift that is welcomed and wanted all year round. Creating and sharing happy memories with children and young people is priceless.
Supporting our Foster Carers in the Midlands
Our foster carers have enjoyed a wonderful festive holiday with the children and young people in their care. We provide our carers with the support, guidance and training to ensure they’re always able to do their very best and feel that they are not alone in their fostering journey. We welcome anyone interested in foster care, whether you want to learn more, if you’re transferring from a different foster agency or if you have decided that fostering is the path you want to take. Please, call our friendly independent fostering agency in Malvern, or send us an email and one of our team will be in touch.
Cyberbullying is a major problem that comes hand in hand with modern life and social networking. Many children are struggling to handle life with cyberbullying and it has a negative impact on their mental health, contributing to depression, self-harm, suicidal thoughts and low self-esteem. It can be difficult for foster carers to know how to help in these situations. The NSPCC have shared some very useful tips that can be of use. Here are 5 tips for foster carers and parents that can be helpful for children dealing with cyberbullying.
5 Tips for Foster Carers and Parents
- Start the conversation flowing. Cyberbullying and bullying can be discussed to help encourage children to open up about their own experiences. Ensure the conversation remains calm and listen carefully to what’s being said. If the child in your care informs you that they’re being bullied be sure to check in with them often and let them know that you are there for them and ready to talk at any time.
- Share information on who the child in your care can talk to if they need help and are not able to discuss it with you. Make sure they understand that you are happy to talk, but if they find it difficult there are other adults out there who will listen, including their teachers, social work team and Childline. Childline can be contacted on the phone, live chat and email.
- Encourage relaxation and stepping away from social media and modern-day pressures. Start a new hobby or activity to help increase confidence and give them reassurance that they are cared for and loved. Find activities that they enjoy, which could be something as simple as listening to music or perhaps playing a sport.
- Teach online safety as soon as the child in your care begins using the Internet. Encourage older children to have time away from their phone and screen, but don’t enforce the rule. It’s important for the child to feel they can be open about their online activities and not have to hide it from you. There’s plenty of age-appropriate information on how to stay safe online available from Thinkuknow.
- Talk to the school about the bullying and begin gathering evidence to show the type of bullying that is taking place. Let the teachers know about the impact the bullying is having on the child and ask to see a copy of the school’s anti-bullying policy.
Find out more about how you can help a child being affected by cyberbullying over on the NSPCC website.
The amount of calls to Childline concerning cyberbullying continues to increase. During 2016/17, there were 3,103 counselling sessions on Childline, an increase of 12% from the year before. The amount of sessions has in fact double since cyberbullying was considered to be a specific issue, which was in 2012. Some of the common concerns in children surrounding cyberbullying are:
- Name calling
- Rumour spreading
- Death threats
Young people are often left feeling unable to cope and cyberbullying is now a contributing factor to mental health problems that include self-harm, depression, low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts. Females aged between 12-15 have received the most counselling sessions regarding cyberbullying, but there have been calls from children as young as 9.
Around the Clock Cyberbullying
One of the major concerns is that cyberbullying can take place around the clock, there is no escape. Children feel unable to unfriend their bullies because they feel the problem will increase at school as a result of the blocking. It’s hard for children to talk to parents about the problem too.
The social pressures faced by modern children is huge. The NSPCC has called for the government to do more to help keep children safe online. It is hoped that a rulebook enshrined in law will be produced, requiring all social media sites to protect children from online abuse and bullying. It is hoped that the rules will include the introduction of an alerts system and strict privacy settings along with easy reporting systems.
Childline is available 24/7 for children who would like to talk in confidence by calling 0800 1111 (the number is free to call from landlines and mobiles in the UK). Read more about cyberbullying and how you can help children to deal with the social pressures of the 21st Century.
On Tuesday, December 19 2018, Robert Goodwill the Children’s minister announced that children in foster care in England, aged 3 and 4 years old, would now be entitled to the extra 15 hours of free childcare. The free childcare will be available to use from September 2018.
The announcement made in Parliament brings closure to an ongoing battle to end a discriminatory policy that excluded fostered children being able to access the free childcare that was allocated to non-fostered children of the same age in England. The policy came into force in September 2017. Children in England had the potential of receiving up to 30 hours of free childcare. Before the latest change, the policy included an exclusion stating the discriminatory words “if the child is your foster child”. Labour MP Lisa Nandy led the campaign to see the policy updated to included fostered children.
Fostered Children Not to Be Discriminated Against
The change of policy is welcomed news. Fostered children should not be discriminated against and given the same rights as their peers. The Fostering Network is delighted with the news and thanked everyone who decided to back their campaign to ensure fostered children were not excluded from the free childcare hours. At the debate that was chaired by Lisa Nandy, Goodwill said that it was a vital issue and that fostered children should be given access to the same support and opportunities as their peers.
The Government shall work together with local authorities and fostering service providers and other members of the sector to implement the change in the best way for the interest of the child. More information on how these changes will be delivered will be announced at a later date.
Fostering is one way of helping the UK’s most vulnerable children. Becoming a foster carer is rewarding and challenging. It’s a way of sharing your experience and skills with a child at a time when they may need it the most. It’s a way of keeping a child safe from harm, showing security, love and strength. It’s a time for you to shine together. But where do you start?
Becoming a Foster Carer in the Midlands
If you’re reading this, it’s highly likely that you’ve considered entering the fostering world for some time. Perhaps now you’re almost ready to get in touch and start your fostering journey rolling, but you have a few more questions or doubts in your mind. It’s absolutely understandable to be hesitant, but we want to remind everyone considering fostering that there is nothing to lose in making an enquiry. You will not be frowned upon for asking questions or for changing your mind. There really is nothing to lose but potentially you have so much to gain. We urge you to pick up the phone or type us a message as there are children who are in need of people like you, right now.
Here are a few answers to some of the most commonly asked questions that we receive.
- You can apply to become a carer if you are single, married or cohabiting and regardless of your sexual orientation.
- Homeowners and tenants are welcome to apply.
- Your cultural background, ethnicity and religious beliefs will not get in the way of your fostering journey. You may need to show how you will provide support to a child of a different religion to yours or when they might be questioning their faith.
- Your home will be checked to see if it’s suitable and a spare room is necessary. Each foster child entering your home requires a bedroom of their own – not a shared bedroom.
- You may be able to continue working while fostering, this will depend on the circumstances. In many cases, you will need to provide full-time care. Again, please discuss this with us if you have any concerns.
- Foster carers do receive a weekly allowance and sometimes may receive and additional weekly fee. The amount received varies so do call to find out more.
- You don’t need a degree or any formal qualifications. You will be provided with training to ensure you have the necessary skills you require to foster children.
- You should be aged 21 and over but you can apply from the age of 18.
- Your life experience with children and young people will be considered during your application.
- Criminal convictions and your history will be considered, along with your health, financial security and your friends and family.
Everyone considering becoming a foster carer in the Midlands has so many questions. You can find loads of information online but the best way of getting the answers and deciding whether you really want to foster a child is by getting in touch. Please pick up the phone or write us an email, you could be a few months away from really making a difference to a child’s life, and your own.
A Call on the Westminster Government has been made by a group of 13 charities and organisations to overturn the decision to exclude fostered children from having access to the extra 15 hours of free childcare.
A letter published in The Guardian made requests to Robert Goodwill, Children’s Minister, to look at the eligibility criteria and take immediate action to reverse the decision.
The letter from the organisations highlighted the fact that children aged 3 and 4 years are now entitled to an additional weekly 15 hours free childcare, which is not inclusive of fostered children. The organisations go on to say that the foster carers would benefit from this additional care as many need to work outside of the home in addition to being a foster carer, which is often a case for long term carers and family and friends foster carers.
The organisations and charities believe that the foster carers and social work team should work together to decided what’s best for the individual children and the fostering family. Fostered children should still have the same opportunities as the other children and this includes the sons and daughters of the foster carers who do qualify for the extra 15 hours of childcare each week. The letter was signed by representatives of the following charities and organisations:
- Action for Children
- British Association of Social Workers
- The Care Leavers’ Association
- Children England
- Coram BAAF
- Coram Voice
- The Fostering Network
- National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers
- National Youth Advocacy Service
- The Together Trust
- St Christopher’s
We understand there may be financial concerns when choosing to become a foster carer in the Midlands. Please call our office or leave us a message if you’d like to learn more about foster care finances or any other questions you might want answered. Don’t leave your decision to enter foster care to guesswork, seek out the facts.
The Improving mental health support for our children and young people report was launched at the beginning of November 2017. The Social Care Institute for Excellence report consists of the discoveries and recommendations made by an expert working group that was formed by the Department of Health and the Department for Education in England.
One of the members of the expert working group was Kevin Williams, the chief executive of The Fostering Network. According to Mr. Williams, half of the looked after children have a diagnosable mental health disorder. Up to five times as many children placed in care have a lower level of subjective wellbeing in comparison to children from the general population. This shows that the need to improve the mental health of children in care is more important than ever.
Mr. Williams said that as three quarters of looked after children are with foster carers, any transformations in the mental health of looked after children needs to have fostering and the foster carers at its centre. It is hoped that the recommendations in the report will be used as a matter of urgency. Consistency and the quality of assessment and support provided to children in care need to be prioritised so that the mental health needs of these children are met.
Foster Carers Need to Be Supported and Valued
The report highlighted that many carers lack the support they need for their child or children because of high thresholds or being excluded from important meetings. As foster carers are an important member of the team and are often the ones with the highest understanding for the child, it’s important that they are included, and their views sought. Foster carers need to be valued and their views taken into consideration.
Caring for carers is as vital as it is to care for the looked after children and young people. The Fostering Network have welcomed the report and the findings and are pleased that the findings included the need to care for the carers and that the carers are recognised and valued. We too support these findings and continue to be committed to providing our foster carers with all the support they need to be the best foster carers for the children and young people in their care.