Fostering Siblings

Often when children and young people are placed into foster care they may have brothers and sisters who may also be unable to live at home.

Fostering multiple children at once can enable brothers and sisters to stay together at a time of immense emotional disruption in their lives.
Some of the only stability they might have in their lives when they enter foster care can come from each other.

However, this can present foster carers with additional challenges in providing the young people in their care with a stable and secure home environment.

Having several young people to cater for can put a carer’s organisation and time management skills to the test.

It can also be a pressure on the space in your home, so having enough room, time, resources and patience to adequately provide for multiple children is essential.

We also make sure that with every foster placement that carers are supported and given all the help, advice and assistance they need to make the placement a success.

Sibling groups, just like individual children, might well exhibit challenging behaviour during a foster placement.

Children struggling to deal with unmanageable feelings and complex emotions can present an individual or a collective challenge to the carer.

However, a stable, supportive and loving environment where adults can see beyond the behaviour and understand the child can often help them make considerable progress.

Helping siblings to stay together and help each other can be one of the most rewarding aspects of foster care.

If you are considering becoming a foster parent and would like to work with Alliance Foster Care, simply contact us on 0808 1680 180

First steps to fostering

Becoming a foster carer is a major life decision and not one that anyone enters into without serious consideration and care.
At first the process of becoming a foster carer might seem complex and daunting, but at Alliance Foster Care we support all prospective carers throughout.

Once you’ve first made contact a carer recruitment officer will get in touch and explain more about the fostering role with Alliance Foster Care and assess your eligibility.

The next step will be an initial home visit from a social worker who will come to your home and discuss fostering with you in greater depth.

At this stage it will be important to see whether you have a spare room that is suitable to be used as a child’s bedroom so this is something that should be prepared in advance.

Following the visit, you will need to submit a formal application and then you will be visited over a period of weeks by a fostering assessor and there is a mandatory disclosure and barring check.

The assessment stage includes a three day ‘skills to foster course’. Following this there is a selection panel that candidates attend to find out if they have been selected as carers.

This might seem like a rigorous and lengthy process but it is designed to make sure that carers make informed decisions and won’t be overwhelmed by the challenges of fostering.

Above all, throughout the process you must be able to show that you can offer a secure, stable and supportive home to a young person facing difficulties in their life.

If you feel that you can offer an environment to a young person that reassures, nurtures and offers commitment and stability, then you probably have many of the attributes required of a foster carer.

If you are considering becoming a foster carer and would like to work with Alliance, an organisation that values experience, insight and mentoring its carers, simply contact us on 0808 1680 180

‘Tinder for Teens’ App, Yellow, Compromising Children Safety

The NSPCC has warned that new app for teenagers, Yellow, is putting young people at risk of predators.

Yellow is a free mobile phone app similar in function to dating app Tinder that allows children to connect with local people. Like Tinder, users can connect with strangers by swiping right on their profile picture if they see someone they want to connect with, or left if they are not interested. When both users mutually ‘like’ each other, they can chat by adding each other on picture-messaging service Snapchat.

But unlike dating app Tinder – which raised its minimum age to 18 after charities said predators could use it to groom children – Yellow does not have checks in place to verify ages. As such, users can override the age and parental control restrictions to sign up, meaning it is possible that adults can pose as children to access other users Snapchat and Instagram profiles.

The app has raised significant concern amongst parents and the NPSCC as it enables young people to connect with strangers with ease.

What can you do?

  • Make sure children only have people they know and trust as online contacts.
  • Remind children it’s never OK to meet someone they’ve met online in person.
  • Let children know their location and profile photo isn’t private in Yellow.

It is important to be aware of which apps and social networks children in your care are using and monitor their online activity. For help protecting children in your care from online abuse, visit www.thinkuknow.co.uk

What happens during a fostering assessment?

Whether you’re at the very start of your fostering journey and doing research before you make an initial enquiry, or whether you’re preparing to have an assessment soon, we understand that you may feel apprehensive about this step.

As you’d expect, the fostering assessment process involves an in-depth analysis, but it shouldn’t be intimidating or frightening. So, to help you feel more at ease when your own assessment approaches, today we’re going to outline how a foster care assessment works in a little more detail for you.
 
When will your Alliance Foster Care assessment happen?

The foster care assessment is usually the third stage in an individual or couple’s foster care application journey. Following an initial enquiry, which may happen over the telephone or in person, you will receive a fostering pack full of information to help you decide if fostering could be a good fit for you. Next you will be visited by one of our team who till talk to you in more detail about fostering and how it might impact on your lifestyle, as well as answering any questions you may have about the process. If you decide to proceed, the next step is to complete a fostering application form. This will be followed by your fostering assessment.
 
What is the fostering assessment process?

Once we receive your form, we will allocate an assessor who will work with you and your family during the assessment process. They will visit you at your home on a number of occasions and work through your application with you, gathering information about your family life, your background and history and about current and previous relationships.

We will identify any previous experience you have of looking after children or providing care. Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks will be carried out to confirm whether you have any previous cautions or convictions. The questions you are asked will be probing, but are designed to find out how fostering might impact on you and your family, so it’s important to answer fully and honestly. Your assessor will always try and make you feel as relaxed as possible. You will also be asked to provide the names of referees as part of this process, and these people will be contacted in relation to your application.

This process will help your assessor put together what is known as a Form F in relation to your application. This will pull the collected information together and you will have the opportunity to review your Form F before it is passed to the Fostering Panel. You will meet with the Panel to discuss your application and find out whether they will be recommending that your application be progressed. This gives you the opportunity to discuss with them your experiences, circumstances and other details outlined in the form.
 
Want to learn more about the assessment?

Hopefully this post has helped you feel a little more relaxed about the fostering process as a whole and about any approaching assessment meetings you may have.  If you’re unsure whether you could be suitable for fostering or you’ve been put off by what seemed like a scary process in the past, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We are always happy to answer questions to put any concerns you may have at ease.

Alliance Foster Care: Can I foster?

Here at Alliance Foster Care we know that successful foster families come in all shapes and sizes, so today on the blog we’re debunking a few myths to explain who can foster and help you to decide if becoming a foster parent is something that might be a good option for you.
 
First, let’s talk about the three most important things you need to be able to commit to before becoming a foster parent. Along with a bedroom that could be used exclusively for a foster child, you’ll also need the patience and understanding required to help nurture a child placed in your care. As you’d expect, being able to commit time to care for a child properly is also incredibly important and at least one carer needs to be on hand all of the time. However, if you are part of a couple where one of you works full-time or you are a single parent, fostering could be an option for you.

Fostering as a single parent
 
We have lots of foster parents working with us who are single parents. You don’t need to be part of a couple to foster; what matters is that you’re able to dedicate enough time and energy to looking after the child or children in your care. As a single foster carer this may mean that you need to be at home full-time or have flexible employment that can fit around the needs of a child.
 
LGBT fostering
 
It doesn’t matter whether foster carers are single or part of a couple, gender or sexual orientation is not a factor for consideration either. We’ll always consider whether candidates are capable of providing a stable and caring home for a foster child, so if you think you fit the bill, do get in touch.
 
Fostering for retired/older people
 
Fostering can be a very rewarding experience for older and retired people. Many people find when their biological families move out or they no longer work full-time that they have lots of energy they’d like to share with others. If this sounds like you, you could be a great candidate for fostering! There is no upper age limit for becoming a foster parent; so as long as you’re fit and healthy your application will be considered like any other.
 
Fostering for all
 
We welcome fostering applications from individuals and couples from all ethnic groups and work with social workers to place children of diverse ethnic groups. When placing a foster child, workers will always prioritise the needs of a child, which means you’ll need to support a sense of positive ethnic identity or religion but you won’t necessarily need to be of the same ethnicity or religion to be matched with a child. If you have any questions, please get in touch for a chat – no question is too silly.
 
Can I foster if I don’t have experience of childcare?

As part of your fostering application, you’ll be assessed to see where you may need extra support as you prepare to become a foster parent. While we do welcome applications from individuals and couples who have experience of caring for children – either within their career or perhaps looking after other family members – if you’re hoping to look after children for the first time we can support your fostering journey too.
 
Hopefully this post has answered some of your fostering questions but if you have any outstanding queries about who can foster, or anything else, please get in touch with our team and we’ll be happy to talk through them with you.

Finding support from other foster carers

The first foster placement for a newly trained carer is invariably a daunting and challenging task.

Taking a step into the unknown and inviting a child into your home who will normally be dealing with a range of overwhelming feelings requires support and help.

All foster carers, whether new to caring or not, receive close support and help from us at Alliance Foster Care, as we put carer well-being as a top priority.

However, another very effective tier of support for carers that should not be overlooked is the support they give each other.

Peer support and mentoring in foster caring is invaluable; hearing directly from another person who has experienced (and overcome) the same challenges can help to make difficult situations seem manageable.

Fostering requires a wide range of talents, from managing the mundane and the everyday (dealing with schools, bedtimes, pocket money and routines), to coping with the fears and worries that foster children invariably have.

Challenging behaviour or dealing with a child in distress can be overwhelming for even the most experienced adult to deal with on their own.

Friends and family who are not carers might be able to sympathise, but they rarely have the insight required to help because they have not experienced fostering first hand.

This is why a fostering mentor is such an invaluable resource for carers, someone who knows your situation because they have been there themselves.

Having this kind of expert help can make all the difference to carers and foster children and ensure that the placement is a success.

What to expect when you’re applying to foster

When prospective carers are deciding whether fostering is right for them, an understanding of the application process is very important.

Fostering is both the offer of a long-term commitment to a child and it is also the offer of a secure, stable and nurturing home environment. This means it is important that foster carers who are suited to the role are selected and supported to face the many challenges that fostering will inevitably present them with.

At Alliance Foster Care, our selection procedure is therefore very thorough, but seeks to be as inclusive as possible, making sure that people with a wide range of circumstances are considered.

During the application process you will have to complete a disclosure and baring service background check, and whilst a previous criminal conviction does not automatically prevent someone from fostering it is important for all prospective carers to be honest and open.

Before there is any need for background checks, however, our trained fostering workers will carry out a home visit to get to know you.

Often, our social workers and fostering assessors can find out as much about your suitability to foster by having a chat and helping you to explore your own feelings and motivations in fostering.

Our selection process, here at Alliance, is designed to support prospective carers all the way through to their first foster placement; ensuring first time foster carers get the best fostering match possible helps the carers and the placement.

It is important not to feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the selection process, our assessors know that it can seem like a major undertaking and are understand your concerns and questions. Instead, view it as a first opportunity to learn more about fostering and your role as a prospective foster parent.

Fostering background checks

It is a sad and unavoidable truth in Britain today that a small proportion of adults who are given positions of responsibility towards children harm them.

Many thousands of children in Britain sadly suffer physical, emotional and sexual abuse and neglect at the hands of the very people who are entrusted with their well being.

Sometimes this is their own parents and in some cases the social services are involved and fostering arrangements and adoption can be possible solutions.

In other cases, teachers, youth workers, sports coaches and a wide range of other adults with access to children have been found guilty of abuse.

One factor that comes up in many cases of reported abuse is that next to nothing was known about the abuser and their past was allowed to remain secretive.

In recent years there have been considerable changes to the way information is shared to safeguard children.

At Alliance Foster Care, the wellbeing of children and carers is our number one priority and we use the Disclosure and Baring Service to carry out background checks on all applicants.

The DBS check lists any prior criminal convictions that a person has had and any other relevant information that a police force or social services may hold on them. It is important that you inform our fostering assessors as soon as possible if you have had a criminal conviction in the past.

Depending on the circumstances of the conviction it might not automatically mean that a fostering application would be turned down.

If you have no prior convictions and you have never had a DBS check before, it is a routine process that everyone in Britain who works with children and vulnerable adults is required to undertake.

Our Story: Warren and Charissa

“Hi,

We are Warren and Charissa, recent additions to the Alliance Fostering family and we would like to share our experiences so far…

Our application began in summer 2015 and over the course of the next several months we had many visits from our assessing social worker and attended the ‘skills to foster’ course. We found the process to be very thorough and in depth, but not uncomfortably intrusive. The team are approachable and supportive making it easy to build up a good rapport.

A few nerves surfaced before the day of Panel, but the members were friendly, assuring us we would not be asked anything that had not already been mentioned in the assessment application. After being approved as carers we were introduced to the wider team and promptly presented with a comprehensive ‘welcome pack’. We have made good use of the online training as well as being enrolled by Alliance with ‘FosterTalk’ which we have found very useful. We are ‘buddied-up’ with an existing carer who has provided unbiased advice and some good ideas!

A few weeks after approval we were put forward for a few different placements; the fourth referral was approved within a couple of days and the Local Authority worked with Alliance to place two siblings, aged 6 and 8 years, with us and our 2 year-old birth son. Due to the circumstances of the placement, it was touch and go as to when they would arrive; we were on our weekly shopping trip when a phone call from the Emergency Duty Team informed us that the children would be with us within 90 minutes. After a rapid trolley dash we returned home and met with an Alliance team member who came to support us with the arrival of the children. We felt excited and a little anxious, but when the children arrived they kept us very busy, leaving us no time to dwell on our thoughts. Over the next four weeks we all worked hard to introduce routines and get to know each other.

We have seen tremendous progress in the children and enjoy sharing in their achievements, while working through the challenges! We continue to nurture their personal growth, finding ourselves growing with them.”

Foster carers and children

Fostering can sometimes work for the whole family, especially when the parents of vulnerable children themselves need help, support and guidance.

If you are considering becoming a foster carer with Alliance Foster Care, one type of fostering you might consider involves making a stable and supportive home for a parent and child experiencing difficulties. Invariably, parents with older or grown up children have accumulated valuable life skills and experience that can be passed on to younger parents who are struggling.

The parent and child foster carer has several roles, they are responsible for the well being and care for both the parent and child, but they also have a mentoring role too. Bringing a struggling parent into your home, often a young or teenage parent with little family support, is an ideal opportunity to help them develop their child care skills.

In today’s increasingly fragmented society, the opportunities to learn about being a parent from older generations is no longer available to everybody. Instead some young and often vulnerable parents grow up unable to cope with the many challenges that babies and small children present.

Being able to help guide a young person to care for their child, support them and give them a break from the many tiring tasks of parenting is often the key to enabling a happy family to flourish in the future.

The parent and child foster carer must be as patient, skilled, resilient and resourceful as a normal foster carer and have the time and energy to devote to at least two other people.

Often both the parent and child that require foster care can exhibit difficult behaviour as they both struggle with overpowering and unmanageable feelings.

However, with time, patience, support and above all love and understanding many parents and their children begin to make real progress towards having happy, fulfilled family lives of their own.