What is fostering?
The 14th – 27th of May marks 2012’s annual fostering awareness event, Foster care Fortnight.
In the United Kingdom, there is a huge demand for more foster carers. Find out what fostering a child entails and how to get started in the application process.
- What is foster care?
- What is foster care fortnight?
- What does a foster carer do?
- Who can become a foster carer?
- Where can I find more information?
Fostering is a way of offering children and young people who need to be in care a stable family environment while their own parents are unable to look after them. On any one day, around 59,000 children live with 45,000 foster families across the UK.
Foster carers look after children so families have the chance to sort out their problems.
These problems can range from a family member’s short-term illness to a parents
depression or drug or alcohol abuse. Many children have been abused or neglected.
Some children will need to be looked after for only a short time until they can return
home, while others will stay with foster carers for the longer term or move elsewhere.
Foster care fortnight is an annual campaign run by Foster Network to raise the profile of fostering and promote the urgency for more foster carers across the UK.
Foster care fortnight aims to educate the UK about fostering by myth busting and providing helpful information to possible carers.
Foster carers provide children with their day-to-day care and much more. They may
have to help these children come to terms with difficult or traumatic experiences. They will support children in their education, look after their health and promote social wellbeing.
The role is varied and challenging, and also includes attending meetings, keeping records, managing behaviour and promoting contact with birth families. Foster carers receive pre- and post-approval training and support to help them develop the skills needed to do this challenging and rewarding work.
All foster carers receive a fostering allowance which should cover the cost of caring for a fostered child. These vary across the UK, but in England, Wales and Northern Ireland there are national minimum allowances agreed by government. Some fostering services also pay their foster carers a fee on top of the allowance, in recognition of their time, skills and experience. Prospective foster carers should ask their local fostering services about the financial support that they offer.
Almost anyone can apply to be a foster carer, but as with any job, some people will be
more suited to it than others. Prospective foster carers need skills and experience that
will enable them to meet the needs of vulnerable children and young people who are
separated from their families.
Fostering services need to recruit a variety of foster carers to offer as much choice as
possible for children and young people. People can apply to foster regardless of marital
status, sexuality or residential status. Foster carers come from a diverse range of ethnic
and cultural backgrounds which reflect the children and young people who are in care.
People who have ever been convicted of a sexual offence or a violent act towards a child
are not able to become foster carers.
If you want to find some more information on fostering in the UK, visit Could You Foster? to find local fostering services.
For general information about fostering in the UK, visit the Foster Network.