What is fostering?
Fostering involves looking after a child or young person as if they are a member of your family. You will do all the things you would with your own children, such as taking them to school and sharing in their school life, taking them to the doctor and the dentist, helping and participating in their recreational and social activities.
Fostering also means being part of a professional team; it therefore involves quite a lot of other activities that parents do not normally do on a day-to-day basis such as:
Contact with birth families: In most cases, the first aim when a child or young person is fostered is to try to ensure their safe return to their family. Regular contact between the child/young person and their family, and anyone else who may be important to them, is therefore vital in this process. Contact usually takes place in a foster carer’s home and can be demanding on the foster carer’s time. For younger children especially, it may mean five or six visits a week. Contact can be a difficult experience for carers to manage but it can also be extremely rewarding in enabling children and young people to maintain links, and sometimes build more positive relationships with their families.
These may be frequent, especially when a child or young person is first placed with you. Some meetings, such as reviews and case conferences, have to be regular, and additional meetings may be arranged to discuss how a placement is going or to look at plans for a child returning home. Meetings are often held in the foster carer’s home, but may also be held in social work offices.
Recording and reports:
Carers are required to keep a record about the child/ young person they are looking after and sometimes this record of events may be requested as evidence in court. Records are also a valuable part of assessing the needs of a child/young person and how they are progressing.
Fostering is not something you learn “overnight”. Every new situation and child brings a new challenge so you never stop learning as a foster carer. Training is an essential element of being a foster carer. Therefore we provide a comprehensive training package linked to the government’s Training and Development Standards (TDS) for foster carers.