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The Answers toAll Your Questions

In our frequently asked questions, we hope to dispel some of the myths about fostering, from our experience of providing good quality care. Hopefully, our responses make it a lot clearer for you as you think about what you will bring to fostering.

Can anyone foster?

You can apply to foster if you are single or a couple. You do not have to be a parent however you will need to evidence parenting skills and the ability to support and nurture a child. Generally, you need a spare bedroom to foster however a baby can stay in a foster carer’s bedroom from aged 0-2.

Can I choose who I care for?

During your assessment you will be asked about the type of child you feel would easily fit in with your family, skills and ability. You will be able to choose age and gender. When you are offered a placement you will be given information about the child and their circumstances and you can ask questions that help you decide.

What will I be expected to share about my circumstances?

We need to know that you are physically and psychologically fit for fostering and you will be required to undergo a medical assessment at your GP surgery. If you have a medical condition and you are a hospital outpatient, we may seek further information about this from the hospital with your consent. A medical condition does not necessarily preclude you from applying.

Can I work and foster?

It is possible to work and foster however, we need to know that there is flexibility in your working hours that allows you to prioritise a fostered child’s wellbeing and safety. Working and fostering and your individual circumstances will be discussed with you before your assessment begins, including how you will cope emergencies and your support network.

What impact will fostering have on my family

At Horizon we talk about the family fostering as all members of the household should be committed to accepting and supporting a child who comes to live with you. That means everyone in the household will be spoken to by your assessor so that they understand what necessary changes are required to accommodate fostering.

Do you need to know about my finances?

Being able to evidence stable household finances for fostering is very important. Foster placements are not guaranteed and there may be times you do not have a child in placement when the fostering allowance is not paid.

I’m an approved foster carer can I transfer agency?

We are happy to welcome approved foster carers into our growing team of carers and we can support you through this process. There is a transfer of foster carers protocol for England. Approved foster carers can transfer agencies even with a child or children in placement however there should always be child-centred planning and decision-making. Please contact Horizon Fostering Services recruitment line for advice on your personal circumstances and you will be guided through the process.

Do I need to obtain references?

You will need to provide the details on your application form of three personal referees one referee must be a family referee. The referees should have known you for at least three years and for couples must be able to provide information on both applicants. The agency will send references to the referees for completion and your assessor will arrange to meet with them during your assessment.

Can I foster if I have a lodger?

You can foster if you have a permanent lodger or non-family member who has lived with you for over 12 months. If they will not be leaving the home they must agree to be part of the assessment.  This involves statutory checks and meetings with your assessor to determine their suitability for living in a household with a fostered child. Any other rental arrangements could prove too complicated and not feasible for fostering.

Can I foster if I have a criminal record?

The fostering regulations require criminal record checks to be made on everyone applying to foster and those living in the household age 18 and over. When you apply to foster you will need to disclose all criminal cautions and convictions. These will be discussed with you and the fostering agency will obtain an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring check. Minor offences should not prohibit you from foster however offences against children and sexual offences would prevent you from applying. Fostering agencies update this check at regular intervals post approval.

Can I have pets?

Having pets does not prohibit you from fostering, in many cases pets can add to the therapeutic environment for a child. Your pet must be risk assessed as part of the process of becoming a foster carer, particularly temperament, behaviour around children. In addition, as a pet owner you will need to consider how you would feel if a child injured one of your pets.

Can I take a fostered child on holiday?

Foster carers are expected to give fostered children opportunities to experience family events and going on holiday is one of these events. The child’s social worker makes the ultimate decision on whether a child is allowed to go. Normally, this is seen as beneficial to the child’s experience of being part of your family. If you cannot take a child abroad, you will need to think about how a child can experience a holiday in the UK.

Can I change a child’s school to a school in my local area?

Generally, fostered children remain at their same school with the same teachers and friends. This provides  them with consistency when everything else in their lives are changing. The exemption to this is a long-term placement where a change of school can be considered.

What will it be like for me and my family when a child moves on?

It is inevitable when the placement ends it will be an emotional time for all concerned. Remember, your family will have played an important part in preparing a child for what comes next in their journey. You and your family can take satisfaction from the positive change a child will have gone through during their time in your care. 

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