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Fostering 'friends' child

(9 Posts)
PriceyIsRighty Tue 12-Jan-16 12:13:48

Posting for sister for advice. My sister has a 'friend' (i say it that way as my sister has not been able to consider the woman a friend for about a year now due to these issues) that has had her son taken by social services. She failed to meet the conditions of a care order etc. And now her son is officially entered into care until age 18. Currently staying with a temporary foster family. Son is 10 years old. Sister has known since he was a baby and they were quite close although only saw each other 4/5 times a year. (Theyve been on holiday together with his mum before and sister has cared for him alone once or twice for a day at a time).

Sister wants to apply to our LA to become his long term foster carer. She has always been a steady figure in his life and provided financial and emotional support when it has been needed and feels that she wants to know he is in a loving, permanent home with somebody who is emotionally attached to him and willing to support him no matter the difficulties ahead.

She is married and owns her own home. Her and her husband both work full time but her shifts are very flexible and she can request specific days off / shifts etc. There would always be somebody available for school drop off. After school club would be needed but someone would always be available from 4.45pm onwards as well. They have disposable income, a spare room and no children and no plans to have children.

She understands that there will be contact with his mum required and is willing to encourage this in the hopes that over time his mum can accept that she was in the wrong and build a healthy relationship with her son for adulthood.

There would be adequate family support for emergency childcare.

She's just a bit worried that she is being a bit naive about the whole thing. Neither of us have any experience within the care system or fostering. Is she being naive thinking they can both work full time and still offer him a stable home? Is it better for him to be with someone he knows or is a 'clean break' better? Is he likely to find a long term foster home within the system if she doesn't come forward or is he likely to move from home to home for years to come?

FannyFanakapan Tue 12-Jan-16 12:37:15

SHe needs to contact SS as soon as possible and speak to the case officer. Is he is on an interim care order or a care order, the interim care order (ICO) will have him in a short term placement (which can last up to 2 years) and they will be looking for a permanent place for him - either long term foster care or another family member, but sounds like she is a permanent fixture in his life also, and friends can take in children.

She will need to go through the assessment process and they may be OK with her working, as long as she has a plan in place for after school and for holidays, they may well look favourably on her application.

SHe will also receive a small amount of money for his keep every week, and this may allow her to reduce her hours. SHe will need to establish if she will be a foster carer or have a SPecial Guardianship Order. (SGO). SPecial Guardians only receive money for the child's keep, but foster carers also receive a small weekly "income" . They key difference day to day is that the SGO will not have as many visits from SS as a foster carer, and I believe there is less requirement to be attending training. so overall, SPecial Guardians have less to do with SS and more autonomy with decisions about the child.

He may or may not bounce around the fostering system, depending on the type of child he is and how he interacts with the foster carers. Our current fosling is delightful, and will probably stay with us until she is an adult.

Lurkedforever1 Tue 12-Jan-16 12:53:09

To add to what fanny says, the biggest difficulty with working ft is that ss don't always take it in to account when scheduling meetings, contact etc, so she needs to be aware. Early days of course she'd need to be available, but even 6months, 3 years down the line she may find herself having to contact ss to say 'no we can't be at home at 2pm tomorrow for a review'.

Other consideration is that there are often restrictions on what contact the foster parent can have with the birth parent when they are already acquainted, however as you say they haven't been friendly for a while it shouldn't be too much of a problem. But that doesn't mean the birth parent won't try and ignore any rules about contacting your sister.

PriceyIsRighty Tue 12-Jan-16 12:57:23

Thanks for speedy reply. He is a lovely child. really loving and engaging but he is very attention deprived and can be a tad clingy which she is worried may put people off / he may find distressing if he moves frequrntly. Personally I think it may be a good thing as it will enable him to bond easily.

She is also worried about his age as he will be starting high school soon and she is worried about the teenage hormones and "why me" angry angsty state being worse if he is move around a lot and having long term effects on his character and adult life. Think she is worried that if he gets moved around a lot he could end up rebelling and getting into trouble but like I told her that could well still happen even if he come and lives with her.

She is feeling very guilty about the whole situation as while she did give the friend numerous kicks up the bum over the years and pour attention on boy when she did see him she feels responsible for it going on for so long despite her even reporting the mother once years ago for something relating to the end situation.

I'm just worried she is letting her emotions over rule her logic and it might not be in his best interests. I know she loves him and wants him to be happy and have a good home but other than this boy she hasn't interacted with children very much ever.

lostinmiddlemarch Tue 12-Jan-16 14:11:17

I have fostered the child of an acquaintance through the friends and family/kinship scheme. We didn't need to be approved for this (though I did get the impression that corners were being cut). We agreed to do it, were visited once and the child was with us within the week.

As I'm sure you're aware, foster carers tend to be thin on the ground so it's possible that this child is looking at a children's home otherwise, as the child in our situation was.

Without knowing the circumstances, I do have to say that your tone when talking about the friend makes me uneasy. Clearly, if she has had her child removed, she's in the wrong somehow. But once you take her child into your home, the dynamic changes. Your loyalty to the child requires the utmost discretion - if the child thinks there is any criticism of their parent, it rocks the placement. It's not for the foster carer to make any comment whatsoever about the biological parent, other than to give the impression that they are accepted and you are sure they were doing the best they could at the time. (Of course, the child's feelings about the parent are something one would hope they'd talk about with you).

If your friend has any personal feelings of antagonism towards the child, or doesn't feel able to support the relationship between child and parent 100%, the benefit of the kinship scheme is lost and perhaps a clean break would be better. I don't expect your friend would do this, but it's never up to the foster carer to control contact depending on their opinion of the parent's life choices.

In my experience, we had to be quite clinical in order to support the child without getting too dragged into the parent's life. It was more complicated than regular fostering because of this. We kept lines of communication open and respected the parent's position regardless of what they did, and it seemed to work. But the acquaintanceship, or friendship, does come to an end and something more formal takes its place. You can't raise a child while having their mum making impromptu visits. We had to be clear that although we supported the parent, it was only the child who was being brought into the inner circle of our family and our home.

lostinmiddlemarch Tue 12-Jan-16 14:12:24

Regarding the benefits of kinship, it is much easier for a child to think they're staying with friends/family; it's a more natural arrangement and doesn't have the same level of abandonment.

lostinmiddlemarch Tue 12-Jan-16 14:14:58

Last thing, I should add that fostering of any kind tends to be very tough. The child we fostered had rampaged through a number of placements already (leaving rather traumatised families in her wake) and we were the last port of call. She does need to have the same level of commitment to parenting as if she were choosing to have a baby - more, in fact. A feeling of guilt/attachment to the child/desire to help will have to be deep enough to justify her changing everything about her life. You're right to feel she should weigh it up very, very carefully as every placement that breaks down is very hard on a child.

FannyFanakapan Tue 12-Jan-16 20:42:03

Just a thought - she may well be able to keep in contact with him through his fostered journey as a respite carer or a family friend - a lot of kids get a volunteer friend who sticks with them and takes them out regularly - she should speak to SS to see if this is a possibility also, so she can keep in touch regularly without the massive commitment needed to raise a child to adulthood.

lostinmiddlemarch Wed 13-Jan-16 17:34:49

That's true - Fanny. There's some term like 'significant adult' and they can attend reviews, give input etc..

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