Considering fostering; wheres a good place to find out more?

(10 Posts)
CountingSparrows Fri 16-Nov-12 21:18:35

We're not ready yet, younger ds only 18mths but in the future we think we'd like to foster children/teens but need to know a bit more. Is there is good place to start reading up a bit more about it? I check here regularly but people are mainly just about to start or started.

I have basic questions about the practicalities of it which would drive you all mad! There must be a basic, idiots guide type website for those who are just looking at the idea?

bonnieslilsister Fri 16-Nov-12 21:38:04

I am not too bad on basic...fire away smile

Fosterangel Fri 16-Nov-12 23:59:00

If you need some bedtime reading that will help you sleep (!) you could have a look at some of the different Local Authorities Foster Carer's Handbooks to get a flavour of what is expected from carers and from the LA. I must have been an anorak in a past life as I have googled other LA's handbooks to see if I am missing out!

I have had a mooch around some of the IFA websites as new ones open up all the time and each sets out what they want in a foster carer and give some really good info on support groups.

There is some more in-depth information in the National Minimum Standards Foster Service Regulations which sets out all the legal stuff.

A good website is www.fostertalk.org as this is the organisation that supports foster carers and it has some forums on it.

Hope this helps...............I need to get out more!

CountingSparrows Sun 18-Nov-12 19:28:32

So sorry, posted this then forgot about it, sorry!

Thank you, I'll check out the links and websites. My specific Qs st this stage include:
How big does your house need to be? We have 3 beds so our 2 would need to share (which I want them to at some point). Too crowded?

I currently work 2 days p/week and take home about £500 a month. I know you get expenses but is that literally expenses or do you get any sort of 'wage' . I know it's not a job as such and of course that's not why we'd do it. Just need to think about our budget. Are you ever out of pocket?

On my phone feeding toddler one handed so no more right now but promise to come back this time!

bonnieslilsister Sun 18-Nov-12 20:49:19

You should get an allowance for yourself and an allowance for your fc. Check with whoever you are going with (i.e. LA or agency) and they should tell you the amount you will get. You dont pay tax on this money.

My LA are good about reimbursing you for mileage and equipment bought but others, I know, are not.

House only needs to be big enough so fc has own room and it is for you to say if it is not too crowded in the living spaces iyswim.

Any more? smile

Fosterangel Sun 18-Nov-12 21:07:30

The size of your house will matter less than the safety aspects and what facilities you have for family meals together, quiet space for homework, family rooms where you can just be with the foster children (so they do not stay in their bedrooms all the time) and a safe, enclosed and private garden. We do teens so it has to be a bedroom for each foster child with us but other LA's may allow sharing for littler ones. Each child is different and you will be matched to a child who fits your home set-up wherever possible.

The main carer is usually asked to be home for the foster children. I have this in my contract so I do not work. I see no reason why you cannot work part time as I know a lot of fellow LA foster carers where both partners work - one full time and the other part time. As long as someone is at home and can cover child care you should be ok. If you want to continue working just bring this up when you have your initial visit to discuss fostering with you. All child minders for carers need to be CRB checked but the LA should do this and pay for it.

I believe that nearly all LA's now pay a graded scale to the foster carers (Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3). Most new foster carers begin at level 1 and progress to level 2 after experience and training. Level 3 is specialist fostering. The Level 1, 2 and 3 part of the weekly money is for the foster carer and is like a "salary". On top of the foster carer's "salary" there is an additional weekly amount paid for the child. This is to spend on the child (food, clothing, entertainment, hobbies, pocket money etc) and is graded according to the age of the child. You can have a look at the National Minimum Standards for Fostering website as it sets out the amounts which should be paid each week.

We have actually lost money in 3 yrs of fostering. Our savings have depleted by £2k since we started fostering. A fostered child's needs and wants are much greater than your own birth children's. They seem to need more reassurance and constant entertaining to keep you engaged with them. We were not expecting that!

You will need to be self-employed and register this with your tax office and pay your own NI stamp and fill out yearly tax forms. Deep joy!

I really hope this helps. Good luck with your research!

CountingSparrows Sun 18-Nov-12 21:26:22

Thank you, that all helps greatly. We don't have savings so hopefully won't end up bankrupt. I didn't realise you get a salary (not looked it up yet!) Do people do this as work then, iyswim? I think I'd find it hard to add fostering to my current job as I'm often on call etc.

Does your youngest bc have to be 12 mths older than any fc? Not sure where I got that from... We would be considering ages 2-3 and upwards, not ruled out teens at all but I'm sure there is lots to consider there. Dh has arthritis in his hands and finds lots of picking up of babies hard, hence not wanting younger ones. I imagine they find placements relatively easily anyway?

As well as working I am studying for a degree with the OU. Could I realistically continue with this or will I be busier than I could possibly imagine?!

If my youngest is now 18 mths, how long would you suggest we wait, before applying, should we choose to?

scarlet5tyger Sun 18-Nov-12 22:05:07

Hi, I foster as a "job", although at £112 per week it's not a very well paid one! It does have rewards in other areas though - seeing a drug addicted baby's first smile (after 3 months of very hard work) reduced me to tears, and getting a hug from a little boy who'd previously been afraid of physical contact did likewise.

Fosterangel I was told that foster carers didn't need to pay NI (by the tax office). Is this incorrect? If so I could potentially have a huge bill! I was also told that eventually I won't have to fill in self assessment forms either, although this hasn't happened yet.

Countingsparrows my LA like there to be a 2 year gap between your youngest BC and eldest foster child. That way your child keeps their seniority in the family. And you'd be surprised at the number of carers who don't want babies! Night time feeds and dirty nappies seem to be an acquired taste...

Hope this helps.

Fosterangel Sun 18-Nov-12 22:49:29

Hi Scarlet. You may be right! I phoned the tax office and the best option for me was to pay Class 2 NI but I know other foster carers who have filled in a certain form (can't remember what it is called) and get an exemption on NI when fostering. Either way I think the thing is to actually speak to the tax office about tax and NI when you start fostering rather than just leaving it.

CountingSparrows Tue 20-Nov-12 14:53:58

Thanks for this, so much to think about. We have loads of room downstairs but fc's room would be single child's room (not a box room) as my dc's would have to share the bigger room. Is that ok?

On average, how long do placements last? Is it weeks, months or years? would a school age child attend the local school with mine, or would they likely be enrolled in another school and need to be taken/collected there each day?

Sorry, I am such a novice I know! I am literally at the stage where we like the idea of it but don't really know anything yet.

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