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What to expect?(3 Posts)
DH has been trying to convince me to foster for about 3 years now, and I've finally stared to seriously consider it.
We have 4 DC, 21, 19, 17 and 8. The oldest 2 no longer live at home. I'm in my mid 40's, DH, late 40's. I work a pretty full on job, 8am - 5pm, then home by 6, DH works 10-2, 5 days a weeks.
I know we should expect a lot of meetings/ courses etc would how many hours we work count against us? I know one parent has to be home for a certain amount of hours, would our currents hours be alright, or would one of us have to cut back on some.
We'd rather foster a teenager, I know a foster child will have a range of needs and the older they are the more complex the fostering will be but I think a teen would fit in well with our current family set up and we'd have a lot to offer them. Can we pick what age range we'd like to foster or do we have to accept any age?
I know cases are either short term or long term but how long is short term, up to a year? And are we allowed to keep in contact with foster kids once/if they've returned home, I'm think 16/17 year olds or is that not allowed?
Can you pick how many children you're willing foster? I don't think we could handle more then one, would we be able to say this or is it just take what you're given?
I'm assuming the application process takes a very long time 2/3 years, is that about right?
And finally would our ages work against us?
My DH and I are in the process of adopting but the course and social work visits are the same for both adopting and fostering in our region.
We started exactly 1 year ago and have just been approved as prospective adopters.
It started with a couple of home visits to ask us why we wanted to adopt, have a look at the house, make sure we had room etc. Then we had to wait 2 months for course to come up (quite quick, depends on interest in your area)
Our region runs either 3 x 6 hour days (weekend) or 7 x 2 hour weekly evening courses, during the course you get a huge binder that goes through the process, children's problems, what to expect etc and the course will cover a lot of the holder. You do role play, talk about yourself, meet other other fosterers/adopters and social workers who deal with children and also adults.
Then you'll be appointed a social worker (took us 3 more months) and they start coming round to fill in a form F. This is the form that they use to match adopters with suitable children. It's VERY VERY invasive!!!! I can't stress that enough. It's difficult to explain but basically they started with our childhood, schooling, family life, our motivation, our finances and the questions just keep coming. We were 'interviewed' together and separately and so was our child. They would ask your own kids what they think too. Its not as formal as an interview but it could take up to 2 hours of questions, it got quite overwhelming. I'd say it was about 12ish visits over 5-6 months. It can take longer but some people we were on the course with took a lot less.
Oh you also have to give the names of 4 references who know you well who will also be 'interviewed' to assess your suitability to be an adopter/foster parent.
Then the form F is completed and you go to a pre fostering panel meeting. Ours had 6 people inc the chair(independent, prob not from your actual region), a doctor, a councillor, a social worker, a note taker and someone else. Our social worker had already been in for an hour answering questions about our form, written by her. Then we went in and answered a few more questions then we were official accepted.
Phew. I know it's a bit long winded.
Anyway some of your questions
When fostering teens you can still have a parent working so you might find your DHs hours are ok.
You can pick your age range. 0-6, 7-12 and 13+ (I think)
You are not allowed more than 3 fostered kids at any one time so if you only want one that would be fine. Bear in mind that a lot of kids removed from parents will have siblings and they prefer to keep siblings together.
You can choose what type of fostering you want to do I.e. Respite (weekends to give adopters or other fosterers a break)
Short term or long term. Not sure of actual times but long term could mean you keep them until they are old enough to leave the system (5+ years). Some kids are classed as unadoptable, it could be the parents refuse to give them up but just can't look after them any more or it could be the child has too many problems and wouldn't cope in a new permanent family.
Short could mean just a few weeks. Not all kids in foster care have been removed from their families, it may be the mother has to go into hospital for an op and there is no family to look after the child.
You can choose the needs level of the child you take, so you wouldn't be expected to take a child with physical needs if your house wasn't set up for that.
There is loads of support from your own social worker as well as the child's social worker too.
Contact is decided between you and new parents (if the child gets adopted) or you can ask the social workers if it would be OK, we've been advised to keep in touch with the foster carer of any child we adopt as that child will have some attachment to that person, but we want 0-4, so it may he different, the older kids you want will always know where you live and if you become the stable loving family they need, they will want to keep in touch.
And hopefully lastly
Your ages are not held against you, two of the foster carers we met were in their late 50's/60's.
I've really had my eyes opened through this whole process, so much so that we are continuing with the adoption and then I might decide to foster if it all goes well.
I'm sorry it's so long but it's a VERY long process. And since we weren't prepared for what it was like, I thought I'd go into a bit more info.
Just drop by your local social work dept and start by asking for some info.
In my experience they will jump to speak to you about it.
Also read a book called
Caring for the child that hurts (???!!!) something like that. It comes in stages, ours was baby to toddler but I know there is a teenager one too. It will give you an insight into what issues the child may have and how you cope with them,
I hope I've been helpful and answered at least a few of your q's.
You do need to check in your area as there may be differences in what I've said. I'm in Scotland.
Feel free to message me if you want any other info. Xx
The process should only take 6 months and as you are willing to foster teenagers you will probably processed quicker than those wanting to foster babies, however it can take much longer!!
Everyone now tends to be passed to foster 0-18 but with a preference for ..... Some LAs IFAs will only let you foster a child who is at least two years younger than your youngest bc.
You can state how many children you would be willing to foster and short term fostering can be up to two years although they are trying to make this much faster. If you only want to do short term fostering it will be emergency placements you are taking and they will come with very little information to begin with and there will be lots of meetings/visits as well as contact possibly 5 days a week. You also need to think how you would cope with allegations from a teenager with a young child in the house, there is the slim possibility that your child could be removed from you while it is being investigated, also if they run off you will need to inform the police and they will search your home every time this happens.
I would find out if there is an information day locally for fostering and speak them about your working hours and if they feel they could work with you on that.
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