Questions about the child
Prospective foster carers are often keen to find out more about how best to support the babies, children and young people in their care. Here we look at the most commonly asked questions about children.
Can I make day-to-day decisions about the child's life?
As a foster carer, you will have some decision making responsibility for the children and young people you look after. However, in most cases, the child's own parents will retain legal responsibility alongside the local authority. How long the child has stayed with you alongside other factors can also play a part in the decisions you may be allowed to make on behalf of the child.
For clarity, your social worker will outline in writing where and when decision making lies with you and where you will need your local authority to review. This way, you will know whether you have delegated authority for decisions like taking a child to get a haircut or to get immunisations. The Fostering Network has some good further reading about delegated authority.
Can you choose what age child you foster?
Throughout the North East, we need foster carers for children from just a day old up to 18 years of age. Right now, there are babies, toddlers, primary aged children and teenagers in need of safe and stable homes.
You will discuss any preferences to foster particular age groups as part of your assessment. As part of your fostering assessment, your social worker will explore the type of fostering you and your home is likely to be suitable for. If you are approved as a foster carer, the fostering panel will recommend which age groups and how many children you are approved for. As you become more experienced, undergo more training or as your own circumstances change, this may change and evolve.
Do I have to take my foster child to school?
When you pick up and drop off a child at school it helps them to feel more secure. Being there as they head into school and after school chat through their day or talk to teachers also gives an awareness of how school is going. For these reasons, depending on the age and stage of education of the child, foster carers should ideally be able to take children to and from school and extracurricular activities.
Can my foster child go to school closer to where I live?
When children come into foster care, they have to cope with lots of change. Where possible, staying at the school they are used to with the same teachers and friends can provide stability and continuity to make things easier at a difficult time. In many instances, the goal of fostering is for the child or young person to return to their birth family, when it is safe to do so. Staying at the same school can help to minimise changes and make transitions easier for cared for children.
If a long-term care plan is needed, fostering may become permanent. In these circumstances, changing to a nearby school can be a logical and helpful step. Not only is this likely to make a child's commute to and from school easier, but it can also help them to feel more settled in their local community.
Can I take my foster child on holiday?
Going on holiday is part of family life and can be a fantastic experience for children. But there are some additional things to be aware of when planning a holiday with cared for children.
You'll need to consider:
- Any specific health or wellbeing needs when choosing somewhere suitable to go, where you stay and the activities you do together.
- Before booking a holiday abroad you'll need to ensure the child has a passport and birth parents have given them consent to travel.
Will I meet the birth family of the child I foster?
Foster carers are likely to meet with the birth family of the children they foster .
The frequency of family time may vary but it's important to approach visits positively and without judgement. Foster carers are expected to support any court agreed family time arrangements. As a foster carer, you need to arrange travel to family time or other arrangements such as the venue. You will also help children to prepare for family time and help them to understand any feelings or issues raised by this . You will also keep social workers and other professionals up to date about any challenges that emerge.
What if I or someone in my family doesn't bond with the child?
Throughout your assessment, we will get to know you and your family to help with the matching process. Foster carer training will prepare you and give you tools to deal with challenging behaviour and help you to understand the life experiences of the children and young people in your care.
When you welcome a child into your home, you might struggle with a change in the home's dynamics. Sometimes personalities don't instantly gel well. We would always encourage you to talk to the supportive team around you, who can offer support and advice and recommend different approaches.
Can I foster more than one child?
The number of children you can foster will depend on your circumstances and what will suit your family. Foster carers can usually look after three children or young people at a time, providing they have enough spare bedrooms. Sometimes an exception is made for bigger groups of siblings to be placed together.
I've heard that foster carers may be the subject of allegations by the child. Is this right?
In any situation where adults provide care for children and young people allegations are sometimes made. When a foster carer is subject to allegations from a foster child, it is naturally upsetting for all concerned.
Providing care that is safer for everyone in your household is a core element of your foster training. You will learn to take a robust approach to safeguarding to help minimise the risk of false allegations. We regularly talk with foster carers about sensible approaches to care and how to reduce the risk of situations being open to misinterpretation. Through training you'll learn how to build positive relationships with children in your care and where to turn for advice when things are challenging.
As a service, we are committed to dealing with any allegations quickly and transparently and offer foster carers independent support.