commonly asked questions: foster children

Naturally when people are considering becoming foster carers, they have a long list of questions.

With that in mind, we have created a series of blogs to answer some of the most commonly asked questions, as well as those questions that people don’t often ask until they are further along their fostering journey.

The first blog is made up of questions specifically relating to the foster children.

i’m worried i’ll be really upset when a child has to move on, is it really hard?

It is completely normal to feel worried, upset or anxious when a child leaves your home. You build relationships with the children and sometimes you can feel a sense of loss.

However, when the time comes, if these feelings do arise, then you will have multiple sources of support to get you through that tough time. If you do find it difficult we will be here to emotionally support you and offer expert guidance throughout.

We also provide training for our foster carers on attachment and how to deal with it.

what will i know about my foster child before they arrive?

As with most aspects of foster care, the specifics depend on each individual case. We always share all the information we have about your potential foster child but sometimes we may only have basic details. This is often the case in emergency situations, where children or young people have to be moved very quickly.

In all cases, our team will work as quickly as they can to piece everything together. And you will always be the one who decides whether you feel they are the right fit for your family. We won’t ever force you into a situation where you feel pressured or obligated.

how can i make a child feel welcome?

Having a child that has never stayed with you before comes with different challenges and opportunities.

Each child has different needs so when welcoming a new child into your home will differ every time. However, having a friendly and loving attitude toward a child will help them to feel comfortable and welcomed. Consistency and reassurance is key.

When a foster child is placed in a new environment, they probably won’t feel comfortable straight away, and so you will need to be patient and give them time to adjust.

can children move schools to be closer to where i live?

It is so important for children and young people to remain at their current schools. They want and deserve as much security and normality as possible, as well as stay close to their friends.

Therefore, unless it was deemed necessary i.e. for the safety of the child or due to issues at their current school, a child would not move schools.

can we take the children on day trips and holidays?

Absolutely! We actively encourage foster carers to take the foster children on day trips and on any holidays so they don’t feel left out or feel different to your own children. It is great for foster children to have new experiences and be embedded in to your family life.

If you want to take them on holiday then permission would be needed by their birth parents. If the child does not have a passport, then the child’s social worker will help to sort it out for you.

can i just foster babies if i don’t have a spare bedroom?

No, you need to have a spare bedroom in order to foster.

Once a child reaches 1 years old, they have to move into their own bedroom. More often than not, their future hasn’t been determined by the courts by the time they reach their first birthday so it would mean moving that baby onto another foster carer for only a couple of months or weeks before they move on for adoption, or return to birth parents or family members.

Our priority is to provide children with as much stability and consistency as possible so it wouldn’t be fair on the child to move for such a short period of time.

do we have to accept any children?

Not at all. We pride ourselves on matching the right child with the right foster carer/s, though due to emergencies, we naturally don’t always have this luxury.

When we need to find a foster home for a child or sibling group, we will look at which foster carers have space and look at whether we think it would be a match for both the child and the foster family. If we think it’s a good match, we will ring you to discuss the child and provide you with all the information we have. If after hearing the information, you don’t think it’s a good match for you and your family, then you can decline.

If children come into care in an emergency (which can happen), then this is where we don’t always have the luxury of find the right match for both you and the child. In these instances, we would contact all foster carers that are available as our main priority is to find a safe home for that child/ren.

are you allowed a preference of the age group that you foster?

Yes, when you are being assessed, your assessing social worker will discuss with you what your preferences are and will also advise you of their thoughts. We work with you to agree on the ages of the children that would best fit in with your family and skillset.

Most foster carers are approved for children aged 0-18 years but with a preference of a specific age range.

Due to our current needs, we can’t accept people who want a really limited approval age range i.e. 0-2 years, 5-9 years etc

can you hug a foster child?

Yes, you can. In fact there will be times when a child will really need a hug.

However, when a child first comes to you, they may not be comfortable with this. They might not have experienced much affection or it might trigger something for them. It’s something that might come over time when the child learns that they can trust you.

can the children i look after have sleepovers with friends?

Yes, a foster child can have friends to sleepover. Unless there is a specific reason why this should not take place, foster children should be allowed the same opportunities as any other children. The child’s social worker would need to deem it suitable and appropriate.

what happens when the child i foster turns 18?

When a child turns 18 they are deemed an adult. There are several options available for young people. They can go into supported or independent living, or under the ‘When I’m Ready’ scheme, they can stay with their foster carers until the age of 24. The foster carers will receive a fee for the young person remaining with them.

what is the shortest amount of time a foster child can be placed with me?

If we place a child with you in an emergency, they might only be with you for one night whilst longer term arrangements are being made.

can i foster multiple children at the same time?

Yes, you can and we are always looking for more people who can open their home to brothers and sisters! However, it depends on the number of spare rooms you have and the size of them. If you have a large bedroom available to foster then potentially, a sibling group of two can share a room.

Foster carers are not approved for more than three children or a sibling group.

can we get kids involved in community/sport groups like my own kids have?

Of course, we would actively encourage that! If the child would like to get involved in these sort of activities like your own children, then it will give them positive emotions as they would be able to see they aren’t being treated differently to the other children in the household.

We would also want foster carers to support children to continue any groups/clubs/activities that they are already involved in.

when foster children leave your care, can you stay in contact with them?

Yes, if that’s what you both want then that’s fine. Lots of our foster carers still stay in touch with children they have previously cared for – that could be young children who have moved on to other foster carers or older children who have become adults themselves, some even have their own children now.

would i have to give up a foster child for them to go to a permanent home?

This depends on a number of things. If you were only approved as a short-term foster carer, the placement wasn’t particularly a good match for either of you, or you couldn’t offer the child a long term placement, then the chances are they will move to a long-term placement with another carer.

However, if it was deemed a good match for both you and the child, and you wanted to offer the child a long-term placement, then you would need to go back to panel to change your approval status to include long-term fostering.

can i foster a new-born baby until they reach 18 years old?

No. Babies, and in many cases children under the age of five, are either moved on to adoption, moved to a family and friends foster placement or rehabilitated back home.

get in touch

If you can open your door to a local child or young person and offer them a safe and loving home, then please get in touch for more information or to make an enquiry.

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