How do I become a foster carer?

There are five steps that you will need to complete in order to become a foster carer for Talawa.


   step 1.



Contact Talawa, by phone, email, or by writing to us.


We will talk to you about fostering and ask you some questions about yourself and the people in your household. Following this discussion, a home visit will be arranged and you may be sent an information pack, with an application form.



   step 2.



Complete Talawa’s application form.  This will provide us with information about you and your reasons for applying to become a foster carer. It also includes a form for you to sign, giving your consent for Talawa to take up the checks and references which are a legal requirement of becoming a foster carer.


These checks and references include:


Enhanced criminal record check on members of your household age 16 and over, and any others who might help you with caring for a foster child.


Medical check, carried out by your GP, which will go to Talawa’s medical adviser for comments.


Local Authority check of residence, which will include checks with their children’s services department and the education service.


Other references as necessary, eg employer.

Three personal referees, who will have to provide written references and be interviewed.



   step 3.



A social worker will carry out your assessment.


This will involve a number of visits to your home, and the social worker will talk to all the members of your household about their views of the fostering application. The social workers will talk to you about your background, your way of life, and how a foster child could fit into your current way of living.

There is not a standard length of time that an assessment takes, but if there are no delays we would expect an assessment to be carried out in 3 to 4 months.


We can give you an assurance that Talawa’s assessments are carried out in a way that is completely open with the applicants. We hope that everyone who applies to us can be approved to be one of our foster carers, but if for any reason the assessing social worker thinks that you might be unsuitable to be a foster carer, the reasons for this will discussed with you, and your response will be listened to.



   step 4.



Your assessment report will be presented to Talawa’s Fostering Panel for approval.

The assessing social worker will write a report based on your assessment. You will be able to see the report before it has been finalised. You will be able to correct any errors of fact which the social worker may have made, and if your views differ from the views expressed by the social worker then your views can be added to the report.

You will be invited to attend the meeting of the fostering panel when the social worker’s assessment report is being considered. After discussing the report, the panel will make a recommendation to Talawa’s registered decision maker on whether you should be approved.



   step 5.



If you are approved as a foster carer, you will be allocated a linkworker whose job will be to support you when foster children are placed with you. Your linkworker will talk to you about whether you need any furniture or equipment before you start fostering, such as a bed or wardrobe, or a cot or stair gate for younger children.



What does it take to be a foster carer?


Foster carers are ordinary people from all walks of life who have decided to do something extraordinary by caring for a child or children who cannot live with their own parents.


You don’t have to be married to foster. Single people, unmarried couples and people in civil partnerships, gay or straight, can all be foster carers.


You don’t have to be below a certain age. You can’t be ruled out from being a foster carer purely on the grounds of your age.


You don’t have to be of a particular ethnic background or religion. The children and young people needing to be looked after come from all of the diverse communities who live in the UK, and we need carers whose own background matches that of the children as closely as possible.


You need to be somebody who can provide children with stability and security and be willing work with a child’s family of origin.  You must have suitable space in your home, some childcare experience, time available to be there when a child needs you, and to go to child-related meetings.

 

What types of children would I care for?


The children who come into foster care are all placed there by local authority social workers because they are unable to live with their parents.


This can be for a variety of reasons:


  1. 1.Sometimes the child’s parents just need a short break while they sort out some family problems.

  2. 2.Sometimes the parents have found the child’s behaviour too challenging

  3. 3.Sometimes it is suspected that the children are being abused, so they have to live away from their parents while this is investigated.

  4. 4.Sometimes the children’s parents have serious health problems

 

  1. 5.Sometimes the child is thought to be in imminent danger, and needs to be placed in an emergency.

  2. 6.Sometimes young mothers or fathers who are struggling with being parents will be placed together with their child or baby.


Whatever the reason, what the children all have in common is that they are having to live away from their home and their parents, and from many of the things that are familiar to them. Part of the foster carer’s task is to help children deal with their feelings about this separation, and to minimise the disruption it causes to their lives.

Children can need to be in foster care for anything from a few days to several years.