Because Community Foster Care is a friendly agency, which offers first-class training and lots of support to all our carers, no matter how long they have been with us.
In addition, Community Foster Care is a charity, it does not make profits and any money left over at the end of the year is put back into developing services for the children and young people we look after.
By choosing Community Foster Care you are not only making a difference to a child, but also supporting your community.
It could take up to six months to be approved as a foster carer.
Once you have made contact with us, a supervising social worker will come to visit you and your family at home where you are given the opportunity to ask as many question as you like about fostering, the agency, foster carer training and the type of fostering that may suit you best.
If you decide to take the next step and we consider you have the potential, you will be invited to attend the Skills to Foster training course.
Following successful completion of this course you will be allocated a social worker to undertake a home study (called a Form F Assessment) which could take three months or longer.
The final step is to be presented and interviewed at our Foster Care Panel.
The Form F is a document required under our Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 which in short looks at your past and your present and what you can offer children.
The assessment is undertaken by a qualified and experienced social worker who could be freelance or one of Community Foster Care’s team.
The Form F assessor will visit your family between 10 and 12 times, and will give you pieces of work to do in-between, making an assessment as to whether you can foster for Community Foster Care.
The assessor will also look at the different types of fostering and age groups with you to help you to decide what would be suitable for your family.
All members of your household over the age of 16 will be required to undergo an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
We will contact every local authority in regions where you have lived for the past ten years and will also contact every employer where you have worked with children including all volunteer posts.
You will have a medical examination by your GP to confirm you are fit and well enough to look after foster children.
You will provide us with a number of referees, including your current or last employer and we will also contact them.
It is not unusual for potential foster carers to have some convictions or cautions in their past and this will not rule you out unless they are for offences which are serious, prohibit fostering or are recent, ie within the past few years.
At the home visit you must tell the social worker when they ask about any involvement you have had with the police and they will let you know whether this is a major, medium or minor concern.
If you do not tell us you have had a caution or conviction and the DBS checks show that you have, we may not proceed with your application so please tell us at the home visit.
The information remains confidential to the agency.
It is not usual for children to share bedrooms unless it is a sibling group of same gender children where the social worker has requested it.
Your own children will not share a room with a foster child; they might have to give up some of their time with you but they should not give up their room.
Community Foster Care tends to place children in their own rooms as a rule but there is an exception from time to time.
Therefore if you have one spare room, dependent on the size, you could be considered for one child or two same gender siblings.
However if the room is small but big enough for fostering purposes, then only one child would be considered.
Community Foster Care appreciates that you may want to work as well as foster so we do not ask carers to give up work.
However, as any parent, you will be expected to be at home for the foster child at the end of the school day, school holidays or if they are ill and cannot attend school.
Sometimes children are excluded from school for a day or so as they may be finding things a bit difficult, it is very important that their foster carer understands that and is available for them.
The Fostering Network introduced a protocol which helps foster carers to move between agencies.
For foster carers with children in placement the process is relatively straightforward with the foster carers, the local authority and the fostering agencies liaising to agree how this is best achieved and the timescales.
However, you will be required to undertake a fresh Form F assessment.
To help this along, with your permission, we would ask your current fostering agency to provide any relevant information required for the new assessment.
Local authorities used to provide taxis for children to attend school but this only happens in extremely complex situations now.
The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 ask us to continually raise the question ‘is this what a reasonable parent would do?’ and we know that parents do not usually put a child in a taxi to be taken to school.
Even though it may be difficult to juggle when children attend different schools, it is possible. Sometimes foster carers can work together to ease the load if they have children at the same school.
A sum of money is identified in the fostering allowance to cover transport to school.
Foster carers are paid an allowance for every child placed with them.
The foster care allowance is made up of two elements: an allowance for the care of the child and a fee for the task/skills you need to have or to support the development of these skills.
Currently the allowance for the care of the child is tax-free and the fee is taxable, but both should be declared.
Foster carer are classed as self-employed and must register with their local office.
Many of our foster carers have dogs but they are all assessed against the Dangerous Dog List and against a temperament questionnaire. Some dogs are banned along with those with a questionable temperament. We will tell you this at our initial home visit and we would want to see all animals living on the premises.
Some of our foster carers live on a farm where there are a range of animals, some have horses and some just have small pets such as hamsters.
Animals help children to relax and we just need to make sure there is no risk either from your pet to a child or the other way around!
An independent foster care agency is different to your local authority's Family Placement Service. Independent foster care agencies are made up of profit-making organisations, charities also working as social enterprises and co-operatives.
Community Foster Care is a not-for-profit organisation that seeks to place children as close to their home as possible because research tells us this is the best option to enhance their life chances and choices.
Independent foster care agencies tend to look after children with more complex needs which might include medical needs, sibling groups and older children.
Foster carers working for independent foster care agencies have higher allowances and a stronger support and resource package than the local authorities tend to offer. Foster carers who only want to foster very young children aged 0-5 will be referred by Community Foster Care to their local authority.