Frequently Asked Questions
Because Community Foster Care is a charity, it does not make profits and any money which is left over at the end of the year is put back into developing more services for the children and young people it looks after. Many of the Independent Foster Care Agencies are 'for profit' and many are owned by venture capital companies whose aim is to make profits. By choosing Community Foster Care not only are you making a difference to a child, you are also supporting your own community.
Typically it should take up to six months to become approved as a foster carer. Community Foster Care will undertake an initial home visit to you and meet everyone in the home which must include any partners even if you are not married. This is usually arranged within seven days of you contacting our office. If we feel you have the potential to become a foster carer for Community Foster Care, you will be invited to attend a Skills To Foster Course at your local office. Following successful completion, you will be allocated a social worker to undertake a Home Study called a Form F Assessment which should take no longer than 12 weeks. The final step is to be presented and interviewed at our Foster Care Panel.
Community Foster Care delivers The Fostering Network's Skills To Foster Course for potential foster carers. All our potential foster families attend a two day course which is run on a weekend by your local office from 9:30 am - 4:00 pm and all resources, including lunch and refreshments, are provided. The course is run by experienced trainers who have worked in foster care for many years. Although our families are a bit anxious in the beginning, by lunchtime everyone is much more relaxed and chatty. There is no role play! The course involves some lecture style sessions, small group work, large group work and other activities, including using building bricks, water and playdoh! You will listen to a DVD of foster carers talking about the range of tasks they do and children and young people talking about their experiences. This course is our Introduction to fostering so we ensure you understand exactly what is involved in fostering so that you and we can decide whether fostering is right for your family.
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. An assessment is undertaken by a qualified and experienced Assessor who is usually freelance but occasionally one of Community Foster Care's team may be allocated. The Form F Assessor will visit your family between 10-12 times and give you pieces of work to do between times. They will visit your referees and make an assessment as to whether you can foster for Community Foster Care and then look at the different types of fostering and age groups. Once we have received your application form you will receive a booklet giving information on what you can expect from the assessment.
All members of your household over the age of 16 years will be required to undergo an Enhanced Criminal Record Bureau 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 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 CRB checks shows 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 this to occur. 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.
You cannot be approved as a full time foster carer with Community Foster Care and still work outside of your home. Whilst there are some agencies that allow this, Community Foster Care believes that the child is the centre of all we do and they must know that someone is at home waiting for them at the end of the school day. Sometimes children are excluded from school for a day or so as they may be finding things a bit difficult and it is important that their foster carer understands that and is on hand to help them get through the tough times.
We at Community Foster Care do not believe that families can foster 'on top of' everthing else; you have to give up something in order to include a child into your family and your lives. However, we do not ask a carer to give up work unless a child is matched with them and we can also not guarantee a child will be placed or even within a timeframe.
If you want to continue working then you should consider respite care which is to provide care at weekends, maybe once a month, and some time in the school holidays for a child placed with one of our foster carers.
The Fostering Network introduced a protocol some years ago which helps foster carers to move between agencies. For foster carers with children in placement who already foster for an Independent Foster Care Agency, the process is relatively straightforward and takes around three months to complete the transfer. However, foster carers transferring agency still have to have a fresh Form F Assessment and undergo the same checks and references as if they were new applicants.
Yes! Years ago, social services departments used to put on taxis for children to get to school but this is no longer the case except in extremely complex situations. 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 their children in a taxi to be taken to school. Even though it may be difficult to juggle children in different schools, this is possible and the majority of foster carers do it and for those children in the same school, foster carers can work together to ease the burden. A sum of money is given in the fostering allowance to cover transport to school.
Community Foster Care reviews its allowances to foster carers every October. The current payment for the majority of children placed is £383.98 per child per week. Higher allowances are paid for Parent & Child Assessment Placements. The allowance is to cover household costs such as heating, lighting, water etc., food for the child, clothing, leisure activities, holiday and birthday allowances, transport costs, hospitality to visiting social workers, educational material/ resources, insurance and wear and tear. Once approved, you will receive a Foster Care Handbook with the allowance broken down further and also membership to The Fostering Network, who will send you leaflets about tax and financial information.
Foster carers are classed as 'self employed' and must register with their local Tax Office. There are now allowances for foster carers and for one child, there is usually little if any tax to pay. However, you will receive more information on this following approval and The Fostering Network provide useful information as well as HRMC.
Many of our foster carers have dogs but they are all assessed against the Dangerous Dog List and against a temperament questionnaire. There are some dogs that are banned but also some whose temperament is questionable or may raise concerns. 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 as 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, parent & child placements 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 between the ages of 0-5 years will be referred by Community Foster Care to their local authority.