Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on fostering.

Could anybody answer some questions for me please?

(7 Posts)
RattieOfCatan Sat 09-Jan-16 23:32:08

I'm relocating in the next 9-30 months and once I do I should be able to foster, which is something I've wanted to do since my teens. I just want to think about some practicalities first and wondered if anybody would talk me through a few things I'm not certain on.

My main concern is having a child of "my own" (so to speak), DH and I are keen to have a child once we're settled, what happens when you do have a child whilst fostering? Is your FChild taken from you and resettled elsewhere so that you take a "maternity" of sorts? I really wouldn't want to put a child in that situation but we will likely aim to have a child in the year or two after the move.

If the above is the case, how does respite care actually work? It's something that I'm thinking may be more beneficial anyway, at least at first whilst I get to grips with the system and how everything works. The LA that covers the area we are moving to offers 3-day and 5-day respite placements. Do you get the same child/ren on a rota of sorts? So Jane in week 1, Freddie week 2, Emma in week 3 and then repeat? Or is it unlikely that you'll see the same child twice? Logically I'd think it'd be the same children so that you can get to know them and vice versa but I know that logic can be thrown out of the window when it comes to fostering.

Would being a student (full time or part time but distance learning) be a hindrance to fostering? Along with part-time working? My DH would be working in London and be over an hour away so I would be the primary carer for any foster child. I will be studying, probably full-time from home until we start fostering and then part-time but I'll have a few commitments I would need to do alongside the study. All of which can be done during the school day so not a huge issue with a child who is at school or at the evenings/weekends when DH is home so can take over.

If you have hobbies and activities outside of the home that you do and you have a long term child are you okay to introduce them to those hobbies? If you have a long term school-aged-child when do they have their contact? After school? Weekends? EOW?

Is it better to go via the LA or an agency? Will I have to wait until we buy a house before fostering or will we be okay with renting somewhere? Would pets be an issue? Are you allowed to stay at friend's/family's homes with a long term FC? Is travelling abroad still a no-go with FC?

Do you need to do additional training to work with children with additional needs? Are there any languages that are a bonus at the moment that are worth starting to learn?

RattieOfCatan Sun 10-Jan-16 09:32:08

Also, how does childcare work? If you want to go out for an evening I'd expect that you can only really use pre-approved sitters? Or if there's an emergency?

Would your FC be allowed to have sleepovers with friends?

3PurpleCrocs Sun 10-Jan-16 13:18:20

Wow! That's a lot of questions!

I really think you need to be speaking to someone from your local authority as everywhere is different and answers you're given here may be different where you live. They can also give you much fuller answers than a post on here.

In brief though, from my experience, my LA wouldn't consider you at all if you're thinking of having your own family in the near future. Your child should ideally be the oldest by at least 2 years to maintain their security in the family unit. This would severely restrict the children who could be placed with you. If you're thinking of applying as a respite carer this may be different, but my LA hasn't approved carers solely for respite for a few years now.

I can't see how studying would be a problem with a school age child, but I'll just reiterate the point I always make here - just because a child is school age don't assume they actually go to school! Would your commitments be flexible if, for example, you had a child who could only cope with mornings at school or odd days, or who regularly truants or is excluded?

Introducing children to hobbies would be actively encouraged, whether short OR long term. Obviously this would depend on the hobby! They're a great way to bond with your FC too.

Contact is different for every child. When a child first comes in to care they usually have contact at least 3 times a week (although I have done 6 days a week numerous times in the past). For school aged children this is typically straight from school, or on weekends. It WILL interfere with all your plans, it will usually change the behaviour of your FC for a short while afterwards at least, but it takes priority over EVERYTHING. Even the best interests of the child. Have a quick read through some posts on here and you'll soon see it's the issue most FCs have difficulties with! It does reduce once a child moves to a long term placement though - anything from once a month, to 3 times a year, to no contact at all.

Staying with friends (with you) is usually fine, but will need running by FC's SW. Sleepovers alone can be more tricky - e.g. my current FC is not allowed any sleepovers without me but this hasn't been the case for other children I've looked after. Each child has their own issues.

Travelling abroad is allowed, but will need permission from SW (and sometimes birth family too)

I have a list of approved carers who can look after my FC. I think we are also allowed to use other responsible adults too in an emergency. Since delegated authority was introduced FCs have much more control over things like this than previously.

Sorry this is nowhere near as brief as I intended! Good luck if you decide to proceed, FCs are still badly needed.

RattieOfCatan Sun 10-Jan-16 17:05:37

Thank you for your respone 3Purple! I didn't want to approach the LA just yet as it will be a while before we are in a position to start the process but it will be the first thing I do when we move as we'd be looking to start the process within 6 months of then really. My Nan was a foster carer until a few years ago in the LA I would be working for so I have been able to get some info from her over the years but I do need to have a nice long chat with her about it soon!

Good to know about having a child of our own, disappointing for me but very understandable, I'd be prepared to wait if that were the case though. I didn't realise that LAs may not allow people to be just respite carers, though I think "my" LA would allow it, they make a point of saying that they have full-time respite carers on their site.

I do understand that school-aged doesn't necessarily mean school-going, I'd happily pay for home-based childcare for a day or two each week if needed (I'd intend to do so with my own child as well tbh) and we have family nearby who are happy to do childcare so if DH and I can't work around my study hours between us we have other people willing to chip in if need be, I think we should manage though.

The hobbies would be sports based and non-standard activities really, it's yet another one of those things that DH and I would do with our own child so we would want facilitate it for a FChild as well.

Good to know about contact, I expected that it would be seen as above all else, I remembered that from my Nan having her charges. Do you have to take them to and from or is that an LA-based thing too? I rememeber that my Nans charges had transport to and from contact but that could ahve changed. I can't remember what happened with school though, she mostly had little ones so no school runs were needed apart from one child but that child has SENs so she gets the school bus which most kids at the school have to get.

Thank you for being thorough with the answers! It really is helpful! smile It is definitely something that I want to pursue but it may be a little further in the future than originally planned.

Kitsandkids Mon 11-Jan-16 12:13:29

When I went in for fostering we were told that one carer had to be available at all times, so I had to give up work. I was happy to do that and consider myself very lucky to be able to be a SAHM while being paid to do so (although the money is not great and my husband and I have had to be quite frugal recently). I don't think my LA would have been keen on someone studying at the start, though I do some volunteering now which I haven't even told SS about as it does not affect my fc at all - they attend school every day so I have that time free. I could be wrong but I think that if you have school aged children not going to school, you would be expected to be at home with them; you couldn't pay anyone else to do it.

My husband and I don't have birth children and we haven't had medical tests done so it's possible I could get pregnant. When I went to an information evening I said I would still be trying for my own baby but that I knew it might never happen and I would like to have children in my home. I was told I wouldn't be considered as carers had to have finished having children, or not be planning any for at least 5 years. So that was what I changed my story to - we were not going to try for a baby in the next 5 years. SS were happy with that and now I've been fostering 18 months and have 2 children long term I told my fostering officer that if I were to get pregnant I would be happy to bring it up as a younger sibling to my boys and she said that would be fine.

Contact varies. At the beginning my 2 saw one relative twice a week and another once a week. One was supervised so they were always picked up and dropped off by a contact officer. The other is not supervised so although a contact officer was supposed to take them there and bring them back I kept being told there was no contact officer available so it was being cancelled, so after a month or so I suggested I take them and bring them back myself and that was fine. Now they are long term it's once a month for each relative and again for one they are taken there but for the other I take them. When contact is arranged by the LA it is nearly always during the week, but if arranged between you and a parent it can be weekends.

Holidays when they are short term you have to get parents' permission but if they are not happy the sw normally speaks to them and smooths it over. If you want to stay in a room with fc on holiday you must tell the sw that. Unless there are reasons why it's not safe for them to be in your room it's generally ok as long as the sw is aware. I have taken my 2 to stay with my mum for 2 weeks and that was fine.

You're meant to get any relatives or friends that might be looking after the children regularly DBS checked, but my fostering officer didn't get round to it. When I needed them babysat for a child free wedding she said it was fine to use my judgement for a one off babysitter, so my mum has babysat twice and my SIL once. We don't really need a babysitter much. If I go out my husband is at home and vice versa.

Sleepovers and going to friends' houses I've been told to use my judgement like any other parent. The eldest has been to 2 parties alone and to 1 friend's house for tea, and the youngest to 1 party. I've told them no sleepovers yet as at 7 and 8 I think they're a bit young - they definitely need putting to bed still so I don't think they're ready to cope with a sleepover.

Hobbies are fine but be aware they may not enjoy it or be ready for it. Last year my 2 went to an after school sports club for half a term, but they wouldn't behave for the instructor so I withdrew them. This year the youngest does an after school sports club of a different kind and he is managing to do as he is told! The eldest has some coordination difficulties so prefers more arty things than sports.

We rent and that's not a problem. A sw will come and do an initial visit and check you've got a spare room and there aren't any obvious dangers or anything. We have cats and that's not an issue. When we were going through assessments we did have to explain what we would do if the children were allergic to or violent towards the cats but that hasn't been an issue and they love the cats! I think certain breeds of dogs they are a bit more wary of and have to do risk assessments etc, but on my initial training course we were told by a sw that most fc love being placed in a house with a dog so it's not normally a problem.

Agencies pay far more than LAs, but when fc come into care the council will always try and place them with an LA carer as it's cheaper for them. This means that, unless there has been a sudden influx of children and they've totally run out of LA carers, the agency carers will only be given the really hard to place children such as those with bad behaviour problems.

Cassimin Tue 12-Jan-16 10:20:52

If I were you I would wait a good few years before fostering. If you want your own family they should be your priority.
I waited until my youngest was 13.
When you invite these children into your home you need to accept that their needs are great and your work/ hobbies/ family may need to be put aside a bit.
Maybe it is just what I have found and some people have had children with no issues. The children we have had have needed 100% of my time and support. I would also never consider putting a child in respite for maternity leave. Imagine how that child would feel and any LA who would do this, in my opinion is not working in the best interest of the child.

RattieOfCatan Tue 12-Jan-16 11:38:08

Thanks again!

kits Me giving up work entirely is something that is likely going to happen in the interim between finishing my degree (in 6 years time!) and doing post-graduate/doctoral training further down the line, at that point DH will likely start working from home so one of us should be able to be at home all of the time. The other commitments I would want/need to do are things that can be done whilst DH is home thankfully, apart from one but that would be a school-hours thing and if needed I could easily cancel that or I could get my Mum or MIL to cover at short notice. That's the upside to relocating to be closer to family! I have plenty of them who would like to be a part of any future child's life!

If I could bring my own child up as a sibling to my FC that'd be something I'd prefer so it's interesting to know that it might be a possibility.

Thanks for the info about holidays, it's not a massive concern to me really, but we do like a bit of camping in the UK and my MIL has a flat in Spain which we'd like to go to occasionally too! I can't see any other holidays bar the standard UK-based mini breaks in our future though! Unless we win the lottery ;)

I never really thought about hobbies where I wouldn't be there I must admit, I never thought about classes and kids activities at all but that's something to think about! Between DH and I we could manage the hobbies if they didn't want to participate, that'd actually be very easy. Our other hobbbies are mostly home based, knitting/crochet, photography, that kind of thing!

Good to know renting is okay, are they iffy about moving house? Probably silly to worry as it's a very normal part of living with both renting and owning but the idea of having to move worries me! Would they just come and check the new place to be assured that the new bedroom isn't just a glorified box? wink We have pet rats which will likely still be the case in the future so it's quite easy to make adaptations and confine them to one room! I do worry about a child hurting them but we have things we can do to avoid that being an issue.

Cassimin RE maternity, that's why I said I really wouldn't want to put a child in that situation. I want to offer a child a home, not a place to stay until the next place so I would happily respite care in the time between qualifying as a FCarer and having my own child to avoid that.

Being honest, I really want to foster and potentially adopt. I want to care for children as if they were my own. I don't particularly want children biologically but DH does which is why we're going to try.

I am fully aware that a foster child will potentially come with big issues and need a lot of attention. As I said, I want to treat them as I would my own which is why I've asked some of the questions I have asked. I want to offer them the chance to spend time with the grandparents once or twice a fortnight without me there like I would a biological child, I'd like to take them to visit my friends every few months or so when I go to visit them myself as I would do with a biological child and I'd like to introduce them to my hobbies even if they think that my hobbies are shit because that's just what I would do with a child I gave birth to. I want a child who will be part of my family and who I can treat as part of the family, not just a child-shaped lodger.

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