How to Foster
You’ve Decided You Want to Foster
That’s great! Recent statistics show that the UK needs to recruit 6,800 new foster families in 2019 to keep up with demand. That’s why we’re always looking for dedicated and caring individuals to join the Capstone team.
We understand that, despite foster care being one of the most rewarding professions out there, that getting started can be a little daunting. That’s why we put together this guide!
If you’re still concerned however, then know that you’ll be fully supported throughout the application process if you choose Capstone as your foster care service provider. When becoming a foster carer, especially as a member of the Capstone carer team, you won’t take the journey alone.
By becoming a foster parent you’ll be making a huge difference in the lives of children and young people in your local area.
Foster Care Requirements
As an independent foster care provider, the “can I foster?” question is one we get asked a lot. In the majority of cases, the answer is “yes”, as there aren’t all that many barriers to entry to becoming a carer.
The core foster care requirements are as follows:
- You need to be over the age of 21
- You need to be in good health
- You need to have a spare bedroom in your home
There are of course other aspects to consider, but these three things are the main criteria to being able to provide quality foster care services with an agency like Capstone Foster Care.
Drive and Availability
The most important thing – more important than anything else – is a drive to help and care for children and young people in need. You need to be able to dedicate yourself to the role and provide care and support to individuals who are going through a rough patch in their lives. Because of this, foster carers need to be patient, understanding and have a good sense of humour.
Foster care is a full-time job, which is why we provide competitive weekly allowances (more on that later) to help support you and your foster placement. While it is possible to work and provide certain types of foster care, many types of foster care require you (and/or your partner) to provide care on a 24/7 basis – it’s important to take this into consideration when thinking about what kind of foster care is right for you.
Background and Lifestyle
At Capstone Foster Care we’re always looking to build a diverse and varied roster of foster carers. The reason for this is simple. We are tasked with placing children and young people from a variety of different backgrounds, religions, faiths and lifestyles – it only makes sense that we have foster parents to match. Being able to place a child with foster parents that share their religious faith or cultural backgrounds helps minimise the disruption and provides much-needed comfort and stability.
Your relationship status, your gender, your faith or cultural background, your age (as long as you are over 21) or whether you are LGBTQ or not has no impact on your ability to love and care for a child or young person. So they have no impact on your ability to join the Capstone fostering team either. In some instances however, you may need to demonstrate the ability to care for children and young people from other cultures or faiths.
There are some things that may make it slightly harder to become a foster parent, including past criminal convictions. Having past convictions won’t instantly disqualify you from becoming a foster carer, but the nature of the criminal record will be considered when deciding whether to approve you as a foster carer. Crimes against children and certain violent or sexual crimes are of specific concern.
Are You Able to Take on the Responsibility of a Child?
When becoming a foster parent, you need to be sure you’re able to provide a stable and secure environment for your foster placement – remember they’ve likely had to be removed from their family home due to lack of such stability. There are a few things to think about:
- Age – are you a responsible adult over the age of 21?
- Health – are you healthy enough that your health will not be put at risk or impact your physical ability to care for your foster placement?
- Home – are you secure in your place of living and is it a safe place for a child to be?
- Finances – while you will be provided with a weekly allowance to help cover costs, it’s important that you’re sure that you will be financially secure while fostering
A Spare Bedroom
Another frequently asked fostering question is whether you need a spare bedroom in your home to be able to foster.
The answer is yes.
The need for a spare bedroom for every child in foster care over the age of three is covered in the UK government’s National Minimum Standards document for fostering services and is a legal requirement of foster care.
You might wonder why it is so important for every child or young person in foster care to have their own private bedroom. A private space where an individual can feel relaxed and secure is proven to drastically improve fostering outcomes. It allows them to play, explore and most importantly, become accustomed to their living situation at their own pace – a comfort they may not have had prior to being taken into care.
What Are Your Options?
Once you’ve decided to become a foster carer and have met the application requirements, there’s a choice to make – do you start fostering with a local authority or an independent foster care agency like Capstone Foster Care?
Local authorities are organisations like local and county councils – these are the government bodies that will initially remove a child from their home if they feel it necessary. Many years ago, all looked after children were placed directly to local authority foster carers. Over time however, the demand for carers has increased while the local authorities ability to meet that demand has not. This has led to councils utilising independent agencies to help bolster their ranks. This is why independent foster care agencies are so important; without services like those offered by Capstone, there would be a huge deficit in available carers.
There are pros and cons of each type of organisation. If you decide to foster with a local authority you’re more likely to get a placement quickly and almost all very young children are placed directly with local authority carers. This is because local authorities will almost always place “in house” before reaching out to an independent agency.
Independent foster care agencies, on the other hand, have more resources. This means they can provide better weekly pay, more detailed training programmes and have more supervising social workers to provide more one-to-one support. The main downside to independent agencies is that they tend to cover a wider area and so you may need to travel a little further for a meeting.
The Foster Care Application Process
To start your fostering journey, simply get in touch with your chosen care provider and submit an initial expression of interest. Your submission will be considered by a social worker who will decide whether to take your application forward. If this is successful you’ll be asked to fill out a full application form which will require you to give consent for the completion of statutory checks, including a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, and for your references to be contacted. Anyone living with you over the age of 18 years will also be subjected to checks.
Once your application is submitted, the fostering assessment process begins. This helps the care agency identify what skills and qualities you can bring to the world of foster care. This is usually done through a series of meetings with an assigned supervising social worker
Your social worker will talk to you about your personal and professional history, your family, your health and hobbies. They’ll also ask about your support network, make sure you’re home is suitable for foster care and make sure you can provide a safe fostering environment. All of these discussions will be formalised and detailed on a Form F assessment document.
Foster Panel Meeting
Once the Form F assessment is completed you’ll meet with an independent foster care panel. These experienced and objective panels meet regularly to provide feedback on the suitability and capability of potential foster carers.
At the panel meeting, the panel members will discuss your Form F assessment with you and ask any further questions they might have before making a final recommendation. Bear in mind that the foster panel’s recommendation is not final and the decision remains with your foster care agency. Agencies do however take the panel’s recommendation into account when deciding whether to approve new foster carers.
Once you’ve been approved by your foster care agency, that’s the end of the application process. You’ll officially be a registered foster carer!
Fostering Skills Training
As an independent foster care agency, we know that our greatest asset is our talented team of foster carers. We want to make sure that you have everything you need to be the best foster carer you can be, so our in-depth training programmes have been specially designed to help enhance, support and develop your existing skills.
As an applicant at Capstone Foster Care, you’ll first be invited to our ‘Skills to Foster’ course during your assessment period. This two to three session programme will provide a more detailed understanding of your role, as well as teach you essential foster care skills including first aid, safer caring and general ‘survival techniques.’
Once you’re approved as a foster carer you’ll have the opportunity to attend a range of training courses to grow your fostering skillset even further. These training programmes include more specialist skills including attachment disorders, web safety, challenging behaviour, and self-harm.
Your First Placement
Once you’ve become a registered carer there is only one thing left; your first placement. You could receive a placement straight away, but it’s common to have a little bit of a gap before your first placement. This is because, when placing a child or young person, we always try to choose the right foster carer for their needs.
It might be helpful to understand the full foster care placement process at Capstone. It works as follows:
- A local authority contacts us to discuss a placement and ask if we have any suitable carers available.
- We gather information on the child or young person and pass this on to our social workers who will select a suitable foster family.
- A social worker will then contact the chosen foster family to discuss the placement in detail. The carer can then accept or decline the placement – carers are never obligated to take on a child or young person if they feel they wouldn’t be a good match.
- If the foster family accepts the offer, we’ll pass their Form F document back to the local authority to prove their suitability for the placement.
- If the local authority agrees that the foster family is a suitable match for the child or young person then the foster family in question, a Capstone representative and the local authority will liaise to plan the next step.
- The child or young person being placed into care will initially visit their new foster home before moving in to start the placement. A social worker is on hand to provide support throughout this process.
On-Going Support and Payments
All foster agencies provide a degree of support during and after the placement process.
At Capstone we provide extensive support to our foster families. No matter whether you’re taking on your first, second or tenth placement, you’ll be supported by a Capstone supervising social worker throughout the entire process. You’ll also be able to call our support team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week no matter the time of year – even on Christmas Day. As a carer with Capstone, you’ll never face any challenge alone – we will always be on hand to help.
We also help financially, offering all of our carers a competitive weekly allowance to help cover costs and to act as a reward for the dedication and care they invest in their roles.
How To Start Your Foster Carer Application
If you’re looking to start your foster care journey, all you need to do is get in touch. You can reach our friendly fostering team by giving us a call on 0800 012 4004, by filling out our enquiry form or by using our live chat service. Our office staff will be only too happy to answer any questions you might have and help you take your first step on the path to a rewarding new career.See more articles…