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Islington needs foster carers to look after children and young people of all ages. We also need people who can offer a caring home to children granted asylum, separated children and young people, mothers and babies, and young people with complex needs as well as those with disabilities.

Once you get in touch, we can talk through what types of care you are interested in. Once you have gone through the assessment process, we can recommend the best foster care options for you.

Reunification

Islington’s Reunification Project, launched in 2022, involves reuniting children with their birth families. 

Research tells us that about half the children that come into care will go home to their families at some point, even if this is in adulthood. Families who manage this successfully usually do it in a planned way with support from friends, family and professionals. In Islington, we are aware that for some children and young people returning home to their families after a period of time in care is a viable option. This is because we recognise that for some birth parents, they have a capacity to change and although it was unsafe historically, their circumstances have now changed.

Children and young people would only return home following a comprehensive assessment to assess the parents' (or family members') capacity to change and to identify what support they would need to look after their children. As a foster carer you will be central to this process, either by telling your supervising social worker when you have noticed a positive change in a parent’s presentation after seeing or speaking to them or the child has raised the conversation with you. Your views will also be sought during any assessment process and ongoing training and support will be provided.

I had a good relationship with the children’s mother and I was part of the transition plan for the children returning home to her care. For example, I was able to advise the mother about routines and strategies I used when the siblings had arguments. I am still in touch with the children and their mother and speak to them around their birthdays and festive periods. I am very proud of my time as their foster carer and the part I played in supporting their return home.
It is always really sad for me when children return home because I have become so attached to them but I know that it’s always better for children if they can live with their birth families. It is always so nice to get a text or a photo from their mother at significant milestones such as on their first day of school. I am proud of to be part of their lives and for my own children to be part of theirs too.

Read about various fostering stories from some of our foster carers.

Short-term foster care

Short-term care involves caring for children or young people for a short specified period of time while an assessment is made for the best option for future care.

These placements allow opportunities for assessment and will often involve high levels of contact with birth families. Carers will often be involved in working with children, young people and birth families to support a return home, if that is the best option. Supporting children and young people for a move to an adoptive or permanent family placement may be required. 

Long-term foster care 

Children and young people who are placed in long-term or permanent care will often have significant contact with their birth families, but are still not able to live at the family home. These placements are arranged to support the child or young person in foster care until they are ready for independence and involve a longer term commitment.  

Looking after a baby

Babies come into care for many reasons and may be looked after until they are able to return to their birth parents or family member or until they are found an adoption family. Many babies will require regular family time with their birth family, sometimes daily and foster carers help the babies stay connected with their family.

Babies placed may be newborn and it is important that they are kept safe and have their medical needs met. They are vulnerable so need a foster carer to be at home full time. Foster carers interact and provide a variety of experiences to stimulate all their senses and promote healthy physical growth. Read about Zinze's first-year experience fostering babies.

Case study: Victoria

Victoria is a new baby that has been taken into care because her parents were struggling with addiction that impacted on their ability to look after Victoria. She will stay with a foster carer until the courts decide the best outcome for her. She may move back to her parents, live with other family members or an adoptive family may be found. 

Seeing the baby who was the size of my hand catching up and now crawling is amazing.

Looking after a child under 11

Our children under 11 may have experienced adverse childhood experiences which can leave them feeling sad, lonely and sacred. These strong feelings can go away with the help of a foster carer being kind, giving them attention and listening to them.  

Foster carers provide comfort and understanding to children who are confused and uncertain of what is happening. They bring smiles and laughter on important days such as birthdays and celebrations as well as on sad days, so a sense of humour is essential. Our foster carers can sit and tolerate our children’s feelings of sadness, anger and rejection. You may feel compelled to try and make things better but sometimes just being able to sit with their feelings is what that child needs from you to be able to overcome this in time.

Foster carers promote a healthy lifestyle and ensure they attend any health appointments. Best of all foster carers help children create happy memories, providing cultural outings to learn about their heritage and the world they live in.  

You will give them the support, encouragement and confidence to achieve. You should be actively involved in their schooling and provide a positive attitude not only for educational values but for the development of social skills too. 

Case study: Nasih and Azzeza

Yordanos was recently struggling with her mental health and had to have a hospital stay. She was finding it increasingly difficult to look after her 10-year-old twins Nasih and Azzeza. The children were placed with a local foster family while she was in hospital. She meets up with them three times a week until it is possible for the children to come home.  

It is important for the children to talk about their mother’s mental health and not to bottle up their feelings of worry. They also like to see me and their mother getting along and chatting about them, it made them feel contained and loved by both of us.

Looking after a child over 11 

The teenage years are an exciting time, but it can also be a difficult and confusing experience for young people, and this may be reflected in their behaviour. They may be frustrated and anxious by the changes and feel unwanted. Foster carers show patience, listen, are understanding of their problems and can talk to them on a level they can relate to while enforcing clear boundaries. It is about being there through the highs and lows of these years for our young people. 

Foster carers are a central figure in their growth, guiding them through the transition as they start developing life skills and habits that will shape their future. This is a crucial time for educational development and foster carers encourage and promote the young people's studies and plans for further education.  

Case study: Steven

Steven is 13 and doesn’t get on well with his stepfather who can be physically abusive. It is decided that it would be best for him to leave the family home and live with a foster family. He enjoys his new family home and still sees his mother each week. 

We worked together setting up a revision timetable. It was tough but we did it, he got the grades, and I got my first hug. Yeah! Next step uni!

Asylum and separated children and young people

A large number of young people come to the UK as unaccompanied asylum seekers, separated from their families. We need to recruit more foster carers to offer them a caring home. These young people arrive in the UK scared, alone and with an uncertain future. Wherever they are from, they all need a home where they can feel safe, secure and supported. You would offer a stable environment to help them settle in a new country, allowing them to look forward to the future. 

Case study: Jamal

Jamal is 13 and has escaped a country at war. He has arrived in the UK with no family or belongings and knows nobody in the UK. His fostering family give him a feeling of safety and support, enrol him in a local school and help him to settle in his new country and look positively toward the future. 

Caring for children and young people with complex needs

Children and young people with complex needs may struggle with routines, developing relationships and emotional or social situations. Foster carers provide a safe, stable and supportive environment and to do this our foster carers accept children as they are.  

They look at what the behaviour is telling them, think about the young person’s life experiences of trauma and are curious about what may be going on at the time. The focus is on making a connection with children and building trust. Specialist foster carers help young people learn to accept close relationships with others, to cooperate, share and help others.

The foster carer will need to be available full time for the children and young people. Their availability enables them to build a relationship by fostering a connection, which is crucial. It will take time for children and young people, who have repeatedly had their hearts and trust broken by adults in their lives, to start to trust again.  

Case study: Robert

At 11 years old, Robert had a poor school attendance record and was already part of a street gang. Islington placed him with a male specialist foster carer who understood that Robert would find rules and boundaries difficult. His carer worked with professionals in helping to address his individual needs and it emerged that Robert was dyslexic. He is now attending an alternative education provision where he receives intensive support and is making steady improvement. 

Host carer - supportive accommodation for 16-21 year olds

Host carers offer young people aged 16-21 supported accommodation, helping them with their transition to adulthood. These young people cannot live with their own parents and are preparing for independent living. Our carers provide the young person with their own room and lend a listening ear, helping them to become fully independent by the time they move on to their own place. 

Our carers teach the young person life skills such as using the washing machine, ironing their clothes, and advise who can help with questions and concerns about college or relationships. Supported lodgings carers will be invited to all the training that foster carers attend. 

Case study: Aiden

Aiden is 16 years old, and his mother has recently died. His father is not around and so he moves into a supported lodging placement where he has his own room and front door key. He continues with his education and the carer supports him with his plans for the future and helps him develop his life skills.

Family-based short breaks

Family-based short breaks offer a regular overnight or weekend break at your home once a month or up to 26 days or more a year to a child or young person with disabilities. It gives them an opportunity to meet new friends and have some fun while giving the family valuable time to relax and recharge. 

The scheme provides care for children with a range of disabilities. Some may have a physical disability, sensory impairment, learning difficulties or autism. Additionally, we may have some children who have complex health needs.

Case study: Abbey

12-year-old Abbey is physically disabled and in a wheelchair. Simon, her father, works long hours and is finding it difficult to look after her. To give both Simon and Abbey a break, she goes to stay on a family-based short break one weekend a month. She enjoys the break and gets to experience new activities and play with the family dog. Simon gets to rest and have some time for himself. 

Respite care

Foster carers look after children for specific short periods of time to support the child or young person and foster carer they are living with. Some foster children benefit from a shared care arrangement to support their usual foster placement or for holidays from residential care.