TELL ME THE BASICS ABOUT FOSTERING
Fostering is looking after a child or young person aged 0 – 21 in your own home for which you will receive a fostering allowance. The length of time they will stay can vary from a few days to a few years until they are adopted, move back to their family or go on to independent living. There are different types of fostering alongside the mainstream service like short breaks for children with disabilities, respite foster care for short time periods or specialist fostering for those with challenging behaviour. Many foster carers start with mainstream fostering care and go on to develop specialist skills.
There is a weekly allowance for the young person to cover their food and household costs, entertainment, sports and activities. You are paid a professional reward for your work as well as a training and placement allowance that is paid for the training you do to build your skills.
Foster carers living in Islington do not pay council tax.
All fostered children and young people are in the care of their local authority. Fostering directly with a local authority means that everything you and the young person need is local. The young people will be from Islington and the north London area so fostering with a local authority means there are no long school runs and less travelling long distances to contact or meetings.
“If it wasn’t for the children I wouldn’t be the foster carer I hope I am. In every placement I learn something. We have an awful lot to be grateful to these children for.”
-Kate, foster carer.
English does not need to be your first language but you need a good level of both understanding and spoken English. This is because most of the young people will need you to speak English with them. Training is given in English and you must be able to fully understand any special needs the young person may have such as medication or dietary requirements. They will also need you to speak at meetings for them with social workers, teachers and other professionals.
There are many reasons a young person may need fostering, they do not all have behaviour problems! Children of many different ages, cultures and backgrounds come into foster care in Islington but they will all have had difficult experiences and need people they can trust. Their parents may have problems with drug and alcohol abuse or mental health problems and many will still be worried about their parents. Some children may enter foster care for a short time due to family illness.
To foster with Islington you will need a spare room.
You can work while you are a foster carer but this may limit the ages you look after. Caring for an older, school age child may allow some flexibility but you would still need to think how you would attend meetings and training if the young person was off school. However, some foster carers do work too and you can discuss this further with the team if you are concerned.
“It was my foster carer who made me who I am today, taught me how to wash up, clean my room, the basics. It’s those little things that count so much.”
-Crystal, care leaver.
As part of the process to become a foster carer you will attend the Skills to Foster training and work with a social worker to complete an assessment that also includes simple checks and a medical. The assessment considers how you will look after a young person but is not a judgement about you as a person. You will work together with the social worker to look at your past and reflect on your experiences. Do not worry! Even if you have had troubles in your past we look at how you have managed these and developed. It may seem daunting but it is a way to help you and your family prepare for becoming a foster carer.
The assessment process should take 6 months.
Once you are approved as a foster carer there is a lot of help available. Islington has a great range of support including a phone line that has a member of the team on the other end 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You will have your own social worker to help and support you as well as support groups with other Islington foster carers. There is also support from the Islington foster carers association run by foster carers if you want a more informal chat or just some reassurance from the experienced carers.