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Wanting the give up my depressingly shallow career in media and move into working with Looked After children. My ideal here would be to become a foster carer and I'm happy to take a big cut in pay to do this. I was keen to adopt in the past but life wasn't settled at that point and it seemed wrong to pursue it.
But I'm single, I have a BC aged 20mo and I live in a rented flat (private landlord). My area is Glasgow and they seem desperate for foster carers here.
Honest opinions wanted! And other ideas along a similar line if you think fostering is a bad idea. I'd have no income if I did this, unless fostering pays some kind of fee... But I love the idea of being able to concentrate on 1 or 2 children, rather than a class full. Age range I'm thinking 0-2...
Go for it!
Think about it really hard first though. I've given up a part time job to look after a gorgeous baby, and its a struggle financially. I need two placements to justify being at home being a foster carer.
Hi, I'm a single carer. I too gave up a career to do this and have no regrets. The only possible issue I can see is having a 20 month old, as my LA likes your child to be older than any foster children by at least 2 years. They might be swayed by the fact that your child probably will be 2 by the time the assessment is done though.
Like Panadbois I need to take in 2 placements to make ends meet and this can sometimes be very hard work - mostly the travelling around because you have 2 sets of appointments for everything, 2 social workers, 2 families to get to know etc. Siblings is slightly easier.
Good luck! Remember you're not committed to anything until months down the line...
Hi single carer here too, I only have one spare bed so just have one placement but as I have a tiny mortgage it seems a lot of money for me.
I have a 5 year old dd and have always fostered children older which has worked out well for us.
Do you have a spare room? It doesn't matter for babies but over the age of about 1, I think you need a spare room.
Oh and good luck, let us know how you get on.
I don't currently have a spare room. But DD could sleep in mine. It's a long thin double and would take a screen quite easily. The smaller double would then be free.
My rent though is £450 a month, then with CT it's £600. And then there's food, car and power... I can't exist on less than 1200 a month and that's pretty tight. I'd have absolutely nothing coming in aside from the foster care allowance unless I was lucky enough to get a job that fitted in with the demands of 2+ very young children, then if I do get one, I'd need childcare so that would cancel out the wage... I'm ruling out a job as a possibility at the moment, just to be realistic.
Would the LA cover all of our (modest) living expenses, do you think? Not just the foster child's? Ie, could I make a case for getting £275-£300 a week?
And would you be permitted to take a foster child away on holiday?
Hi again. If you're in the UK you'd be entitled to income support if your children are under 5 (or maybe 7, can't remember which off hand) or working tax credits. You may also be entitled to housing benefit and council tax benefit - although council tax benefit is increasingly under threat ATM. I couldn't continue to foster without these benefits as it absolutely does not pay a living wage where I live.
With my benefits added in I get about £220 per week which is less than you're looking for, but if you were able to get housing benefit then you could knock your rent off your current expenses...
Just another word of warning though, my LA wouldn't assess you without a spare bedroom even if you were willing to share with your DD. Unless you were willing to take newborns only, and even then I suspect they'd be wary as newborn carers aren't in demand. I'd give them a ring to check.
We are currently in the application stage heading towards panel. From what I can see, all LA's and agencies work to slightly different guidelines. These are some of the things that we've come through in our journey so far...
Our LA will not even come and talk to you if you do not have a spare room. Ours were not really very happy that our girls are sharing a room when we have 3 bedrooms. (we have plans underway for a loft conversion)
They also need to be able to see that you can afford to live without any income from them. They said that there may be times that you don't have a placement, or anything could happen where you are unable to have a placement with you for a period of time (anything from illness to having an allegation made against you). They will place children with the most appropriate carer, not the one who is unable to afford to live without a FC. I think this is hard for most people looking to give up work to do fostering. They said there have been cases of people fostering for all the right reasons losing their homes and they have a responsibility to manage that risk.
There has to be a carer there 24/7, you cannot find alternative childcare for a FC whilst you go to work. They can't go to childminders/ nurseries as they are likely to already have attachment problems and they need consistant care. I am told it is very different to having your own baby as attachment problems start very early on.
Our LA pays a fixed rate which works out at just under £1000/month for under 5's. But we've been told to expect to have to do contact 5 days a week, training courses a couple of evenings a week, and lots of SW meetings. It certainly to my mind is underpaid for the amount of work they are telling me it involves.
However, as the others have said, it can work! I think you would probably need to get in touch with your local LA and see what their guidelines are.
Good luck with whatever you do!
I agree I'd prefer another room! Though I live in a pretty scrubby area already and it's £450 for 2 rooms... actually my flat is a bargain - £50 cheaper than my neighbours. Hard to see how they expect you to work the miracle of:
Not having a job
Having spare rooms
Being paid pretty much nothing
Obviously it seems that some folk can pull this off... I CAN work from home as a consultant in the job I'm doing (and especially if I don't have a foster child at the time), but the wage would be very ad-hoc (job by job basis, freelance) so tough to be able to factor in as a certainty.
I got a brochure from Barnardos. They say they pay about £220 a week, with an extra £100-£150 on top per child. This is manageable... Anyone with experience of Barnardos?
No, I agree, I did comment that they must be looking for quite wealthy people that can afford to maintain a house big enough to have spare rooms and afford not to work. I think most of the carers for my LA are retired with grown up children.
Wow, that is a good salary from Barnados. I'm guessing they will expect an awful lot back from you for that. Why don't you ring and arrange for one of their SW's to come and see you? I think that might give you the best idea!
Maybe the fee has something to do with the level of urgency? Glasgow has some desperate pockets.... Large, poverty-stricken population... Whereas the Lake District would also have problems but with a sparser population and a high proportion of wealthy inhabitants, the fees are probably lower...?
Or is that absolute tosh?
Hmmm. Found a 3-bed flat for £450... same area, a bit further out but no problem So it's doable. How are private landlords though when you tell them you're a foster carer? Do they imagine trashed walls, blocked toilets etc?
Moel Barnados is what's called a private fostering agency and they do seem to pay better than the LA's but quite often have the harder to place children and can't always guarantee a placement, whereas if you foster for your LA you will be kept busy.
It may be different in your area though.
I foster for my LA and get paid £273 per week for one child. That is my fee and expenses. I also claim my petrol on top of that.
I would ring your LA aswell, see what they have to say.
If I could get £250 plus housing benefit, I'd be fine. I'm rather excited by this, actually. I've contacted the council with a few early questions - see if anything comes back!
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