Hopefully we’ll be able to answer some of your questions here…
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FOSTERING AND ADOPTION?
Fostering is a temporary care arrangement when children and young people who cannot be looked after by their birth family, are provided someone suitable to care for them. There are several different types of foster care, which can be both short-term or long-term depending on the child’s needs. It is important to remember, foster carers would never have parental responsibility for the child in their care, and all legal parental responsibility remains with the local authority and/or birth parents.
Unlike fostering, adoption is a way of providing a permanent new family for children who cannot be brought up by their own parents and involves the adopter taking full parental rights and responsibilities. Importantly, an Adoption Order is usually final.
There are very important differences between fostering and adoption, so please think carefully when deciding which path, you feel is right for you and don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team to discuss any questions you may have.
Do I need specific qualifications to foster?
No. As part of your fostering process, you will receive all necessary training to build upon the skills you already have to foster, starting with Foster for Plymouth’s Skills to Foster programme. Remember, training programmes don’t stop there. There is a wide range of specialised training courses tailored to specific children’s needs. This may be a course to help you care for a child with hard to manage or distressed behaviours. We encourage you to participate in additional training during your fostering journey to have the most positive experience for both you and your foster child.
Does a criminal record prevent me from becoming a foster carer?
As part of the process of becoming a foster carer, an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (formally known as a CRB check) will be undertaken during the application process. Some offences would not prevent you from being approved, but offences that would be relevant to the safety of a child will be taken very seriously and may disqualify you from fostering.
Can you foster if you are in the LGBTQ+ community?
We assess people’s eligibility to become a foster carer based on their ability to fulfil a child’s needs and provide a safe, nurturing home environment, regardless of whether you are transsexual, bisexual, gay, lesbian, or questioning, we welcome your fostering application.
I’m moving house soon, can I apply to foster before I move?
Ideally, we would like you to be settled in your new home prior to issuing your fostering application as it is unlikely, we would begin your approval process. Essential to becoming a foster carer is that you must prove you provide a safe, stable and nurturing home environment for the child in your care, which is limited when moving household. However, please feel free to contact us for a discussion about your individual circumstances.
Can I foster if I have a long-term health condition?
Fostering a child is both physically and emotionally demanding. Your general health or any disability you may have must still enable you to meet the challenges our children may bring, so this will be considered during your assessment process. Applicants with disabilities are welcomed to be assessed as their experiences often mean they have gained essential skills ideal for parenting, such as strength and determination, but this may vary depending on the child you are matched with.
I have suffered from depression in the past, will that prevent me from fostering?
While foster carers are required to be in good health to be eligible to foster, this does not mean past mental health issues are a barrier in your application and the relevance will be assessed on an individual basis As part of our assessment process, a medical report detailing your experiences will be needed to help us evaluate the impact fostering will have on your life.
I have heard that I can’t become a foster carer because I smoke, is that true?
The importance of role models and the health of any foster child will be taken into strong consideration throughout your fostering process. With this said, we do provide support and some limitations to foster carers who do smoke, particularly for children in their care who may be more at risk due to their age or health. It is important to remember all foster children are entitled to a smoke-free home environment.
I have birth children. Can I foster?
It is not necessary to have birth children to become a foster carer, but you are eligible if you do with many people applying who have had their own children. All children are unique, so some will benefit being the only child while others thrive in a larger family. If you have your own birth children, they will be included in all stages of the fostering process to ensure fostering has the best interest for everyone in the household.
Will I have a say in who I foster?
Before starting your fostering journey, as part of the assessment process, we will agree on the types of children who would best fit into your family by looking at the most appropriate age range, the number of children, and any other considerations. We will work with you to identify both your strengths and weaknesses to figure out where your care will be most beneficial, but a foster carer always has the right to decide not to accept a placement.
What if I don’t get on with my foster child?
When it comes to fostering a child, we may naturally assume there will be a bond and challenge ourselves if we aren’t feeling that connection. Some of our children have experienced very difficult or traumatic early experiences and may need a lot of support to trust and respond to family life. If you find there is a challenge with relationship building, make sure you discuss this with your supervising social worker and child support worker to find the best outcome. It may be worth engaging in some additional training or support.
Are foster carers paid?
All foster carers will receive a weekly fostering allowance intended to cover the costs for providing their care, for example, food, clothes and school expenses. Each allowance depends on the type of care and the age of the child or young person, with additional expenses also available depending on the type of foster care you are approved for.
Is foster carer pay taxed?
The answer is, most likely not. There is an income tax exemption for foster carers called Qualifying Care Relief, which means you do not need to pay income tax on the first £10,000 your household makes in the financial year. Also, as foster carers, your pay is subject to additional tax relief of up to £250 per week, per every child in your care, depending on your personal circumstances. To find out more details on our foster carer allowances and financial support, please visit the gov.uk Foster Care Tax Page.
I work full-time. Can I still foster?
It is possible to work full-time if you are a foster carer, depending on the needs and age of your foster child. This is to ensure that in your role as a foster carer, you can fulfil all the needs of the child, including attending meetings, training and support groups when required. We encourage if you are in a couple to have at least one of you become a stay-at-home foster carer or part-time worker to accommodate for the times your foster child will need your full attention.
If you have a question that is not listed above, we would love to hear from you.
our friendly FOSTER FOR PLYMOUTH team is on hand to answer your questions