Who needs fostering?

There are many children and young people who need to stay with alternative carers to ensure their safety and security and provide them with stability. This may be for short or long periods of time or until a child reaches adulthood. Often these children have been subject to abuse or neglect and are very vulnerable, afraid and confused.

For a lot of children, they stay with foster carers on a temporary basis and then return home to the care of a birth parent or other family relative. Some children move on to reside with adoptive parents and other children remain with foster carers on a permanent basis until they are old enough to reside independently.

Who can care?

Foster carers are ‘normal, average caring individuals’ who wish to make ‘a difference’ for a child. Foster carers come from a range of racial, cultural and religious backgrounds, there is no specific age limit and carers do not need to own their home to be approved. Future Families are keen to recruit carers who are able to demonstrate a commitment to children and provide them with a safe and nurturing environment and are willing to learn about the needs of children and their experiences.

The training programme we run and the assessment can help carers determine what kind of fostering suits them and their family’s needs this could include offering short term placements or permanency placements or caring specifically for children with disabilities.

We invite carers from a range of cultural, racial and religious backgrounds as we have children referred to us from wide and diverse backgrounds.

Reasons for joining Future Families

Here at Future Families we pride ourselves on the quality of service provision, support and training that we provide our foster carers. We have an excellent record of children residing in stable and consistent placements with our carers and can demonstrate positive outcomes for our children.

We value and support our carers, encouraging them to attend our extensive training programme and develop their skills further as carers.

Our support worker visits the children within placement on a regular basis (usually six weekly) and engages them in activities and outings. Children are encouraged to take part in our quarterly newsletter and contribute their thoughts and ideas.

Carers are supported on a regular basis and are invited to support groups where they meet other carers, are able to bring forward issues for discussion and provide support to other carers who may be less experienced.

Transfer – experienced carers looking for a change?

Future Families will meet with foster carers and children if applicable when they are thinking of moving to an alternative agency and we will discuss with you your needs and the needs of the children, without obligation. We can offer carers an opportunity to meet with our existing carers.

To begin the transfer process carers would need to give 28 days’ notice to their fostering agency (if there are no children in placement) of the intention to resign. If carers have children in placement they need to provide written notice to the fostering agency and the placing local authority.

If there are children within the placement a protocol meeting will be held and the fostering agency and the local authority will be invited. This meeting will discuss the needs of the children in placement and how best to manage the transfer to ensure minimum disruptions. In most cases, agreement is given for children in your care to transfer with you and the previous fostering fees will continue to be paid.

Future Families will speak with the fostering agency and ask to see your Form F assessment. A Future Families assessor will visit you at home to undertake a new Form F and this will be presented to our panel for approval. We pursue references and our assessor will read your fostering file with the agency. During this process we will continue to offer you support and guidance so that things can run smoothly with minimal disruption.

An agreement is made with all parties when your Form F will be presented to panel. This will ensure that people are aware of the date your current approval will end and your approval with Future Families begins.

There are occasions when the existing fostering agency tries hard to persuade carers to remain with them, if you find yourself in this situation then Future Families will be happy to provide you with support and guidance and advise you on appropriate action to take. It is important to remember that transferring is an individual choice and a choice made by you.

How does the recruitment process work?

The process is over four different stages:

Initial enquiry

You can contact Future Families by telephone and speak with one of our duty workers (duty is operated on a daily basis from 9.00am – 5.00pm except Friday 4.30pm). Our duty worker will ask you questions about yourself and your family and speak with you about fostering in general. If you simply wish to ask questions and call back another time to share your details then let the duty worker know and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have at that time.

The duty worker will ask questions, such as do you have a bedroom to accommodate a child and have you spoken with your children about fostering. Following this initial enquiry we will make arrangements to visit you and your family at home at a time that is convenient for you.

Initial Visit

Two of our social workers will visit your home to speak with you and any other members of your family that you wish to include at this stage. This visit usually lasts around two hours. At this meeting we will ask further questions about your home, employment, friends and other family, your experiences of caring for children and what kind of fostering that you have considered etc.

After these discussions if you have changed your mind about fostering then do not be embarrassed to tell us or ask any further questions about what this involves for you and your family. If you feel at the end of the initial visit that you would like to continue onto the next stage, Future Families will send out an application form and ask that you complete and return this to us. Once the application form has been received Future Families will send out for references from your employer, education if you have school aged children, medical request from your GP, personal referees that you have identified and local authority and CRB checks.

Form F assessment and Skills to Foster Training

A Future Families Assessor will be responsible for working with you and your family over a four month period, gathering information about your life, including childhood experiences and explore what skills and experiences you have that will be helpful to fostering. You will have the opportunity to explore the different kinds of fostering and make a decision about what you would like to do. Future Families will invite you to a three day training course which helps prospective foster carers gain an insight into the reasons why children need to be looked after in foster care, as well as providing information about fostering and your role.

The assessment is a thorough and lengthy process but you will have opportunity to ask questions, gain new skills and develop your knowledge. The assessment and skills to foster training are a foundation for future learning and help prepare you for your first placement.

Fostering panel

At the end of the assessment process a report will be completed, which is signed by you and your assessor and is then presented to our fostering panel. The fostering panel is made up of experienced social work practitioners, independent members, a medical adviser and legal adviser. Panel members consider your Form F report prior to attending the meeting and will have had an opportunity to prepare some questions which they may wish to ask prospective foster carers. Questions are usually about the information within the report and applicants can quite easily answer these. You will also have an opportunity to ask the panel questions.

Panel members will have a discussion about the information they have read and heard and make a recommendation regarding approval. However, the ultimate decision to approve or not lies with the Agency Decision Maker, who will carefully consider all the details of your Form F and the recommendations of the panel.

After Approval

Following approval at the fostering panel you will be allocated a Supervising Social Worker who will work closely alongside you offering support and supervision on a regular basis (usually 4-6 weekly). Your social worker will look at referrals of children we receive and look to match you with a child’s needs. You will be invited to an induction training event where you will have opportunity to learn more about the agency and your role as a foster carer.

Foster carers will be invited to attend all training events provided by the agency and will begin their TSD standards portfolio and start gathering evidence for this workbook. Carers will be invited to support groups and have an opportunity to meet other carers and participate in the ‘buddy’ scheme to meet more experienced carers.