You may have many questions about fostering.
Check out the information below and get in touch to find out more.
Fostering offers children a safe and caring family. This is usually geographically close to their home, while they are unable to live on their own, and provides an opportunity for other professionals to work with the birth family to help resolve their issues.
As a local council, we have a responsibility to look after children and young people in care as their corporate parent.
We directly recruit foster carers to care for children and young people, providing fostering placements.
Fostering is a career. Choosing fostering as a career allows you the opportunity to work in a field where you can directly change a child’s life for the better. For many people, fostering is life-changing not just for the child in care, but for the carer too.
If you have worked in the care sector or services industries, you might have already thought about fostering. However, you do not need to have this type of experience to become a foster carer.
People have become foster carers with backgrounds from many different professions.
There is a wide range of professions, such as teaching, nursing, and emergency service, that provide the skillsets that can enhance your ability to foster. But that’s not to say that office workers for instance, cannot make great foster carers too.
Fostering should be beneficial for both the parent and the foster child.
For example, if your children have flown the nest, you may be experiencing loneliness. Fostering a child would mean that not only are you nurturing a child in need, but you’re also giving your life purpose once again.
On the other hand, you may feel like your happy family could help a child in need by providing a positive and stable environment, whilst positively impacting your children.
Foster carers are needed because they provide safe, loving environments for vulnerable babies, children and young people who need to be in foster care.
There are a variety of different reasons as to why children need to be in care.
Foster carers provide full-time care, support and a home for vulnerable children and young people.
Offer specialist childcare
Foster carers in the UK are trained, assessed and approved to look after fostered children by a fostering service.
Foster carers are childcare experts working as part of a team of professionals providing children with the highest standard of care.
Alongside this professionalism, foster carers offer these children:
- a home
- a positive experience of family life.
With love and support, the children in their care quickly adapt and often thrive. Put simply, foster carers help to make a real difference to vulnerable children in society.
Understanding the reasons why a child may be taken into care is a great way to grasp why foster care is so important and why we are always looking for new foster carers to join our growing fostering network in Medway.
In Medway, there are children and young people needing safe homes and families.
These children are from all backgrounds and vary in age. However, they all have one thing in common and that is they can no longer remain living with their birth parents.
There are many reasons why we may take a child into care. Some of the most common include:
If a child has been abused or is at serious risk of being abused, they will be taken into care.
This applies to any type of abuse - physical, emotional, or sexual.
Physical abuse is the most common type of abuse and often comes to light when social services spot unusual bruising or other forms of harm.
Emotional abuse, although just as common, is much harder to prove. It can occur in the form of:
- another type of action that makes someone feel unsafe.
This has become more prevalent for children being bullied via the internet.
All forms of abuse affect children in their development. It can often mean that they struggle to form trusting relationships with others.
Their negative life experiences impact their behaviour as well as their sense of identity and self. Fostering means that you look after a child knowing that they will need additional love, support, and patience to help them overcome their past traumas.
There are many different forms of neglect, and all are serious.
Children may be physically neglected for their basic needs such as:
- a clean home
- other essentials.
Children rely on their parents to provide them with the necessities. Denying them this is a form of abuse.
Other types of neglect include:
- emotional - when a child’s needs are ignored
- medical - where a child’s health is not prioritised.
All forms of neglect can damage a child’s physical and mental wellbeing.
Often, neglected children will have fallen behind in their education and may struggle to read, talk, or process emotions.
Foster carers provide more than just a home, they assist in guiding a young person’s personal development and growth too.
Children who have been abandoned will enter the care system to be fostered.
Abandonment can be as extreme as deserting a child or it could mean leaving a child home alone for long periods without caring for them.
Absent parents are not providing the full support and care a child needs to be healthy and happy and therefore fostering is an alternative.
Illness or disability (including mental health issues) can mean that a parent is not able to provide full, adequate care to meet a child’s needs.
Alternatively, a child may have complex health needs or a disability that means a parent is struggling to provide the correct care.
In both circumstances, fostering provides a home for a child where all their care needs are met. As circumstances differ between families, there are different types of fostering to help cater to the unique needs of the child’s care plan.
Other reasons for a child to be taken into care can include:
- family dysfunction
- death of parents
- drug and alcohol abuse
- birth parents lack basic parenting skills
- severe domestic abuse
- failure to thrive
- death of parents
- birth parents requesting adoption.
Although each child is unique and has a differing set of needs, all children need to be nurtured, loved, and cared for.
Knowing why children may be put in care is important and helps foster carers to understand and relate to their foster child or children.
If you’re interested in becoming a foster carer, enquire now.
The foster carer's role is to provide high-quality care for the child.
All children in foster care will be looked after by a local council and the foster carers will work in partnership with the local council to provide this.
The foster carers may also work with other professionals such as therapists, teachers or doctors to help the child to deal with emotional traumas or physical or learning disabilities.
Earn an extra income
The primary reason cited for becoming a foster carer is because there is a wanting to change a child’s life through positive parent-child interactions.
However, another benefit of fostering is the fostering allowance you can expect to receive. This will contribute towards everything the child could need including:
- leisure activities
You would also be classed as self-employed as a foster carer, allowing for Council Tax contributions financially supported with allocated festival, birthday and respite allowances, as well as reward and maintenance fees.
If you're caring, patient and welcoming, you can foster.
People do not need to be married to become a foster family. Read our myth busters to find out more.
We're also keen to recruit foster carers from any ethnic and cultural community or religious background.
Criteria you need to meet
To foster, you must:
- have a spare bedroom for a foster child to use and make their own
- be over 21 years old to foster (no upper age limit)
- have British citizenship or have been granted permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain in the UK
- be a driver with access to a car
- be fit and healthy
- not have a birth child under the age of one years old.
Anyone of any ethnic group or culture, and of any sexuality can foster.
Ideally, you (or one of you if in a couple) will be available to foster on a full-time basis. However, we can work around this if you work part-time, and your employers are flexible.
You do not need any qualifications or even any experience in childcare. You just need to be able to act professionally in meetings and work as part of a team.
You will need to have the patience, empathy and resilience to be able to support a child who may have complex emotional needs. However, the most important qualities for us are commitment and a sense of humour.
We expect people to be mature enough to work with the complex problems that children needing fostering are likely to have and fit enough to perform this very demanding task.
When it comes to becoming a foster carer, there is no such thing as an ‘ideal’ type of person. We welcome people from all walks of life, as everyone will have something unique to offer.
People who become foster carers come from as wide a range of backgrounds and circumstances, which is the same for the children that they look after. Just as there is no typical foster carer, there is no typical foster child either.
This is really important as our foster carers have the skills and experience to help the child to fit in well with their family, allowing them to thrive and fulfil their potential.
We need a wide range of people to meet our children and young people's very different needs. It’s best for children to live with foster carers who reflect and understand the child’s:
- ethnic origin
People who want to become foster carers need to go through thorough preparation and assessment. They attend groups where they learn about the needs of children coming into foster care.
Alongside this, they receive visits from a social worker. The social worker will then prepare a report that is presented to an independent fostering panel, which recommends whether this person or family can become foster carers.
Training does not stop when a person becomes a foster carer. All carers have an annual review and any training that's needed to ensure they are suitable to continue fostering.
Some carers also take a national qualification, such as an NVQ level 3 Caring for Children and Young People.
The main qualities that make an effective foster carer are a genuine interest in children and young people and a focus on the child’s best interests.
Other strong attributes include:
- empathy and good listening skills
- perseverance when things get tough
- flexibility and adaptability
- patience and humour
- stability and consistency in your personal and family life
- an ability to guide and discipline children without the use of physical punishment and physical restraint
- being able to look after yourself emotionally and staying well
- a willingness to work with other people in the child’s life such as birth parents and caseworkers
- a willingness to support the child to develop a sense of identity that includes their culture, language and religion (where appropriate)
- remaining non-judgemental
- accepting a child or young person and their individual needs
- having realistic expectations of a child or young person in their care
- working in partnership with birth parents and professionals
- offering safety, stability, and security
- offering stimulation and encouragement.
The foster carer
- Enabling the child or young person to feel safe, cared for and meeting all their needs
- Transporting and taking them to contact, school, clubs, social events, and days out
- Providing healthy balanced meals
- Ensuring that they’re registered and seen by health professionals and supporting them in with looked after children’s medicals
- Attending statutory meetings
- Supporting them in maintaining contact with birth family directly or indirectly
- Attending foster carer support groups and completing mandatory training
- Being available for regular visits from your supervising social worker, the child’s social worker and other professionals involved
- Helping to build and promote a child’s identity and self-esteem.
The impact that becoming a foster carer will have on your children can be incredible.
You’re teaching your child valuable life lessons, such as caring and kindness qualities, while providing the looked after child with friends for life.
Fostering can potentially have the biggest impact if you have an only child who may be craving a sibling to share their childhood with. Creating lasting memories and changing a child’s life is rewarding enough, but improving the quality of your own child’s life at the same time is something truly remarkable.
Birth children can:
- play a huge role in helping foster children adjust to their new environment
- become a mentor-figure or a surrogate brother or sister and help a foster child to settle into their new home, school and meet new friends
- offer a welcoming environment, love, trust, safety, friendship, education, a routine, a home and guidance
- enhance social understanding, empathy and important social and life skills.