FAQ

If you are reading this, you may already be considering a career as a Foster Carer and be looking for direction and clarification.  We appreciate that you will have many questions about Fostering and we have included some of the most frequently asked ones on this page, however, we understand that everyone is an individual and will have questions particular to their lives, and we therefore welcome enquires.

Can I/we foster?

The most important quality that you will need to become a Foster Carer is the ability to care for and protect children to the very high standards that we require.  We are not interested in your formal qualifications, and will not judge you on your academic achievements.  Safehouses Fostering recruits and trains Foster Carers to provide a nurturing, supportive and caring home for children – these are the essential qualities that we seek. We welcome people from all ethnic origins, whether you are married, or have a partner and irrespective of your sexual orientation. We are more than happy to hear from people who are single, lesbian or gay and we will always treat people with the respect that they deserve.  The children we care for come from a wide range of backgrounds and we strongly welcome Foster Carers who can add cultural and social diversity to our caring organisation.

We actively welcome enquiries from people with life experience and do not discriminate on the basis of age.  We value the patience and understanding that our mature Foster Carers can offer and feel that this is a positive asset to both the children they support and our agency as a whole.

Safehouses Fostering does expect you to have some experience of caring for or working with children and young people, (N.B. we do not normally consider potential carers under the age of 25). We need to know that you have the ability to safely care for a child or children in your own home, and require evidence that you can do this.

With regards to your home, it does not matter if it is private or rented, but what is essential is that you have at least one spare bedroom which can be used for fostering – to provide a child with space and privacy.

You will need to be able to drive so that you can take a child to school and attend meetings, events and training etc.

I am a man – can I Foster?

Yes!  As stated above, you will be judged on your ability to care for a child and not your gender.  Some children benefit greatly from having a caring, supportive male Foster Carer.  We have some excellent male Foster Carers, who are the main care provider in their home, and the positive influence on the children they support has been exceptional.

How old are foster children?

Children of all ages are fostered, from birth to beyond 18. However, most of the children that Safehouses Fostering Foster Carers look after are aged between 7 and 16 years. Younger children are usually only referred to us when in a sibling (family) group and we occasionally have referrals involving young parents and their babies. Safehouses Fostering will only place children with you that match your family, preferences, skills and accommodation. It is important to us that fostering compliments your family.

Why are children fostered?

There are many different reasons why children are fostered. Sometimes it is simply because their family cannot cope due to illness or bereavement, so a child needs to be looked after by Foster Carers for a short period of time.

At other times it may be necessary to find a safe place for a child who has been living in a harmful or unhappy situation. Whatever the reason, children who are placed through Safehouses Fostering are quite likely to have suffered neglect and/or abuse, and in these cases the child may well have been removed from their birth family by Social Services and the Courts. It is for this reason that we actively seek potential Foster Carers who are understanding, caring, supportive and compassionate.

Can we have ‘time off’?

Of course! We recognise that you, too, will need a break from the demands of being a professional Foster Carer. Safehouses Fostering will provide you with 14 days paid time off each year (this time is called respite). In exceptional circumstances, further periods of unpaid respite may be arranged with Safehouses Fostering and the placing authority, but periods of respite would not normally be more than two weeks at any one time. What about finances?Safehouses Fostering pays our Foster Carers a weekly amount to enable them to provide the child with a high standard of care, this payment is referred to as a fostering allowance. This covers all costs such as food, pocket money, clothing and normal travel to and from school etc.; it also includes a payment element for Foster Carers. Our allowance is currently £350 per week, per child in placement for under 5 year olds and £400 per week, per child in placement for children over 5. Foster Carers are self-employed and therefore responsible for their own income tax; however, our accountants will be happy to advise you on issues relating to your fostering income.

What about finances?

Safehouses Fostering pays our Foster Carers a weekly amount to enable them to provide the child with a high standard of care, this payment is referred to as a fostering allowance. This covers all costs such as food, pocket money, clothing and normal travel to and from school etc.; it also includes a payment element for Foster Carers. Our allowance is currently £350 per week, per child in placement for under 5 year olds and £400 per week, per child in placement for children over 5. Foster Carers are self-employed and therefore responsible for their own income tax; however, our accountants will be happy to advise you on issues relating to your fostering income.

What's the difference between fostering for an independent agency and a Local Authority?

Local Authorities recruit Foster Carers to care for children and young people for whom they hold legal responsibility. However, if they do not have an appropriate placement with one of their own Foster Carers, they will ask independent agencies if they can offer a suitable foster home with one of their Foster Carers instead. This may be because the young person has complex needs, or they cannot be placed with other children in the household, or they may need to be placed in a family group together with several other siblings. Because of the high level of need that these children present, independent agencies provide their Foster Carers with a very high level of training, independent agencies also offer support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Agencies also pay their Foster Carers a professional fee as well as an allowance to cover their costs.