SHORT-TERM FOSTER CARE
Short-term foster care is for children/young people whose Care Plan is uncertain. Short-term placements could last a few days, a few weeks, or sometimes a number of years. The child/young person may return home, move to live with other family members who have been assessed, move to a long-term fostering or adoption placement or move on to independent living.
Many short-term placements become very stable, and thus become long-term arrangements. Long-term care requires a commitment from the foster carer to provide care for as long as it is needed. This may be up to the age of 18 years, and even beyond, under the ‘Staying Put’ arrangement put into place, which is designed to help young people move on to independence when they are ready.
LONG-TERM FOSTER CARE
Long-term foster care differs from adoption in that the child/young person’s carers never gain parental responsibility. In long-term foster care the child/young person remains under the care of the local authority, who shares parental responsibility with the birth parents. Fostering regulations apply throughout the time they are living with you.
Sometimes a child/young person requires a long-term placement from the point they are received into care. In these cases a ‘match’ with foster carers, who it is felt can meet that child/young person’s needs, is identified at the outset. In other cases a child/young person may be placed as a short-term placement, and the Care Plan then becomes long-term, if the child/young person, foster carers, the placing authority and ALL4U Fostering agree that this is a good option for that child/young person.
As a long-term foster carer you will be able to see the child/young person in your care flourish into a young adult – the rewards gained from this are tremendous. As their foster carer you will build a strong relationship with the child/young person as you guide them through their childhood, and you will meet the challenges they face along the way together.
EMERGENCY FOSTER CARE
As an agency ALL4U Fostering tries to avoid emergency foster care because carers would not have had the opportunity to meet the child/young person beforehand, and often there is little information known about the child/young person’s background. Matching is something ALL4U Fostering prides itself on, since we know from experience that effective matching between a child/young person and foster carers can make a difference to the stability and longevity of a placement.
However, there are times when emergency situations cannot be avoided. If carers are willing to take this type of placement they must be aware that the child/young person will need lots of reassurance when they arrive that everything will be okay. Carers who take emergency placements will receive training on how to manage this type of placement.
Emergency fostering usually lasts for a few days while future plans for the child/young person are made. However, these situations can sometimes lead to a short-term, or even a long-term, placement.
FOSTERING CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES
As a carer for children/young people with disabilities you’ll be offering specialist care to children/young people with complex needs, which may include physical disabilities, medical conditions or learning difficulties. Caring for someone with a disability can be hugely rewarding as you give them the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Becoming a foster carer for disabled children/young people may seem quite daunting, but don’t worry as training and guidance will be available via the agency, so that together we can give the child/young person the support they deserve in order for them to thrive.
SIBLING FOSTER CARE
There are sadly often occasions when several siblings are taken into care together. Whilst it is usually the aim of local authorities to place a sibling group in the same foster home, it is not always straightforward, and not many fostering families have a large enough accommodation to offer this.
Sometimes a decision is made to place the children/young people with different foster carers. This can mean complex arrangements have to be managed. Contact between the siblings is very important, since remaining in touch with each other, is often what they value most in family life.
Foster carers, who want to give a home to siblings, would need to bear in mind that some want to be together, and this usually results in a successful outcome. However, others can have complex needs, and there may be jealousy and rivalry between the siblings, which can make a family situation hard to manage.
PARENT AND CHILD FOSTER CARE
All children/young people deserve a loving, safe home life, and where possible, this should be with their birth parents.
Parent and child foster care is a way of offering a home to both a young parent and their baby (sometimes this includes both parents. However, usually it is the mother requiring this type of placement, although not always). Parents may be under the age of 18, and perhaps themselves may have been in care. Sometimes mothers are placed in foster care while still pregnant, so that the carers can help her prepare for her parenting role.
These young people will need help and advice, and the carers role will be to teach, support and guide them, so that they can move on into independence.
If there are significant concerns about their parenting capacity, assessments will be made about their ability to care for their baby, whilst in foster care. Foster carers play an integral role in contributing to these assessments. This will include keeping a clear record of all relevant issues, and providing this information to the placing authority, and the court.
Parent and child foster carers are provided with specialist training, and will need to have this category included in their approval at the Fostering Panel.
RESPITE FOSTER CARE
Respite carers provide foster care, sometimes without much notice, over short periods of time, e.g. over a weekend, or provide regular short periods of respite to support a particular placement, such as one where the full-time carers are looking after a disabled child/young person, or someone with complex behavioural issues. Respite can last up to 21 nights which could be over several periods, and in certain circumstances the respite carer may be asked to extend this time, but these instances are not frequent.
Ideally, respite foster carers will get to know other carers in their area, so that they can build relationships, and support each other when things get tough, and carers need a break.
Each foster family within ALL4U is allowed nights respite per year. All requests for respite should first be discussed with the agency and ideally should not be taken all in one period.
FOSTERING ASYLUM-SEEKING CHILDREN/ YOUNG PEOPLE
All fostering is challenging, but in order to support children/young people who come into the UK as asylum-seekers, you will have to be particularly resourceful and empathetic. These children/young people may have been separated from their families in traumatic circumstances, either in their country of origin, or en route to the UK. They may not speak any English, are likely to be extremely distressed and frightened, and may be overcome by the traumatic things that they have gone through. In addition, it is usually not possible to know a great deal of their background. However, the rewards of fostering these very troubled children/young people can be enormous. To watch them lose their fear and begin to realise their potential is a moving experience.
We try to place these young people, if possible, within a culture which is familiar, or where there are groups locally, who can help to support them in maintaining their culture.
If you would like to discuss anything we have told you about please do not hesitate to ring us on 01959-535025.