Frequently asked questions
Q1. Can I choose which child comes to live with me?
Yes, before you are approved, we’ll have spent a long time helping you to decide which age groups and types of child would fit into your home. Whenever we ask you to foster a child, we give you all the information we have about that child – their history and behaviour and so on. We let you make up your own mind whether or not to take them. We would not ask you to foster a child who we believed would be a danger to you or to the rest of your family or whose behaviour we thought you would find too difficult to handle. We make every attempt to match children to a carer of the same race and cultural background which is why we seek such a diverse group of carers!
Q2. Can I still foster if I work full-time?
It is unlikely but we will be happy to discuss your individual situation with you. Children Always First prioritises the needs of the children we look after and therefore we need our carers to be able to respond to all situations, and attend all meetings in addition to the training and carer support groups. Of course if there are two of you then only one would need to be available so the secondary carer can work full time. It is however often possible to undertake part time work and/or training alongside hosting a full time placement.
Q3. Can gay or lesbian people foster?
Yes absolutely. We are firmly committed to equality of opportunity and therefore we are primarily interested in the skills and ability that you have to offer and not your sexuality. We positively welcome applications from LBGT community.
Q4. Can I foster if I don’t own my home?
Of course, as long as you have a stable home with enough room to care for a child or children, in a safe environment, it is irrelevant whether you rent or own your home.
Q5. I have a disability and/or health problem, can I still foster?
Yes. Everyone who applies to foster will need a medical as part of the assessment process to make sure that you have the ability/energy to care for a child. If you are disabled or have a medical condition, our Medical Adviser will take these factors into consideration and make recommendations on your suitability.
Q6. I already have children of my own, does this matter?
No, if anything it is an advantage as you can evidence parenting skills. Your own children would be included in the approval process too, as they are so important in the family. However if your household is too busy for fostering because several of your children still live at home this may affect your application. Similarly if you have children under five still at home this may also affect your ability to join the Children Always First team.
Q7. What about my partner?
If you have a partner living with you, your fostering social worker will need to assess him or her as well as you. Your partner will also need to take part in the preparation course. Children Always First assess fostering households and not just individual carers. Therefore if anyone else is resident in your household they will take some part in the assessment process.
Q8. What about my wider family? Parents? Brothers? Sisters?
Will they be around to help you? Will they baby-sit? Will they include your foster children in outings and parties? If they are happy to help you foster, this will be a great help to you. We may have to run checks on them if you intend leaving the children in their care at any time, depending on the frequency, but they will not be part of your formal assessment.
Q9. Can people with a criminal conviction foster?
Yes. People who have a criminal record or have been cautioned can foster a child. Much depends on the seriousness of the offence, how long ago since the crime was committed and how you have lived your life since. People with convictions for violent or sexual offences against children cannot foster.
Q10. Does fostering get very emotional?
Yes. There are bound to be times when you will be upset – perhaps when a child you’ve become fond of moves on. Or perhaps if a child tells you about something bad that has happened to them in the past. But remember, you’re not alone – your Children Always First team and other experienced carers are always around to support you. And there are far more times when fostering will be fun and personally rewarding.
Q11. But could I really let a child go?
Unless you are approved as a long-term carer, you will have to. The aim is always to secure a permanent home for a child. Children Always First training will ensure you are supported through the process and understand your role. However, many long term carers start looking after young children and see them through to independence.
Q12. What’s the difference between fostering and adoption?
Adoption means taking a child into your home permanently and legally as part of your family. Fostering usually means a temporary home. There are similarities between adoption and long-term fostering. The differences are mainly to do with the legal status of the child.
Q13. Can I foster with you if I do not live in Bromsgrove?
Yes. We welcome applications from those living anywhere in the West Midlands and within a reasonable travelling distance. Applicants will need to travel to Bromsgrove, Wolverhampton or Staffordshire for training and meetings.
Q14. What time will I have for myself?
On top of everything you do, fostering could take a lot out of you. You’ll need time to recharge your batteries. Here’s where the friends and family come in. If you are fostering short-term you can also take breaks between placements if you wish.
Q15. Can I afford to foster?
Yes we pay very competitive professional allowances to cover all associated costs of looking after a child and additionally pay you a professional fee in the region of £250 a week per child.
Q16. Can I foster if I am over 60?
Yes. We do not operate an upper age limit, but you would need to be fit and healthy enough to care and meet the needs of a child or young person. The youngest age at which you can foster is 21. A medical report regarding suitability to foster is undertaken on every applicant. This is based on a report completed by your own GP and the results considered by our Medical Advisor for Fostering.
Q17. How long do my partner and I need to be together before we can apply to foster?
You will need to have lived together for at least two years before you apply to become foster carers.
Q18. Does everyone in the family need to know we have applied to foster?
Fostering involves the whole family. We would expect you to have discussed your wish to foster with all members of your household, including children. Everyone’s views are important, as are their feelings in relation to having a fostered child living with them.
Q19. Our grandchildren stay with us sometimes at weekends, will I need to include them on the Initial Information Record as a member of my household?
Yes, as they could affect such things as the age or sex of a child placed with you, if you were to be approved as a foster carer.
If you have been married previously or have had a significant relationship with another person, it is likely that we will need to contact them to gather or confirm information. This is part of the family assessment we are required to carry out on all prospective foster carers.
Q21. Can my own children share a bedroom so that our family can foster?
We would not consider it appropriate for your own children to move and share a bedroom so that you can foster. If they are currently sharing this would need to be discussed with you further.
Q22. We hope to move house/build an extension/convert the loft in the next few months, can we apply to become foster carers?
As part of the family assessment we will need to visit your home to see if it suitable for fostering. We would not be able to proceed with your application until all major building work has been carried out or you are settled into your new home.
Q23. I have a pond in the garden, will this prevent me from fostering?
Ponds will need to be either filled in or have a solid cover to prevent children from falling in. We carry out a health and safety check to identify other risks as part of the family assessment.
Q24. My son who lives with us smokes, will this affect our application?
If anyone in your house smokes, you can not be considered to care for children under five years. This also includes people who smoke on occasions. If you are in the process of quitting, you will need to consult your GP and provide evidence that you have given up smoking for at least a year prior to your application.
Q25. I am single and have never had children of my own, can I still foster?
We have a wide range of foster carers who all have different family and personal circumstances. Many carers are single (male and female) and some have not had children of their own. There are many one parent families who successfully bring up children on their own.
Q26. My partner was cautioned in relation to an offence when he was 16 years old, do I need to inform you of this?
We must carry out a number of checks on potential foster carers. This includes whether anyone in your household has any criminal convictions or cautions. When carrying out checks we are made aware of all past criminal records, these include offences as a juvenile or under 18 years. Please note that not all criminal convictions will prevent you from becoming a foster carer, however, there are certain offences that will, for example, offences against children. It is unlikely a minor offence committed several years ago would affect your application but a failure to disclose any recorded offence would cause problems.
Q27. I would like to give up work and foster full-time but need an income, is this possible?
Yes absolutely. We are trying to recruit professional carers and pay fees and allowances that enable people to give up work and foster full time. However you do need to bear in mind that you receive no income when you do not have a placement.
Q28. My partner and I are currently receiving fertility treatment, can we apply to foster?
The period during and after fertility treatment is often a very stressful and emotional time. We would not consider any application to become a foster carer immediately before, during or immediately after fertility treatment. If applicants have received fertility treatment in the past, this will be fully discussed and explored as part of our assessment process.
We would not expect your son/daughter to give up their room to allow you to foster, as they are likely to return for at least part of the time. In circumstances where it is unlikely that your own child will return home, we would need to discuss the situation with you and your son/daughter.
Q30. I was made bankrupt last year, can I still apply to foster?
With all bankruptcies there is a period defined when you are not able to set up another business. All foster carers are now classed as self-employed and as such we would not be in a position to consider you as a foster carer until the stipulated time has lapsed.
Q31. Can I be considered as a foster carer for brothers and sisters?
We are always looking for carers who will enable us to keep brothers and sisters together. In some circumstances, involving young children, brothers and sisters can share a bedroom (if this is appropriate).
Q32. When I complete my Initial Information Record we sign to give consent to look at other information you may hold on me and my family, what information do you have access to?
When you return your Initial Information Record form we access records such as, past and current involvement with the NSPCC and any local authority where you have lived. For example, housing, health and education, as well as involvement with children and adult services, including previous applications to foster or adopt.
Q33. How long does the process take to become a foster carer?
The process of becoming a foster carer means applicants have to go through a number of stages. A general guideline is that it usually takes a maximum of six months to complete a full assessment and present it to the fostering panel for consideration.
Q34. Will I meet the child’s parents or other family members?
Most children benefit from contact with their parents or other family members. Sometimes carers may transport the child to meet their family elsewhere. Support and training prepares you for this. Contact also takes place by phone or letter.
Q35. What happens if the child does not get along with my family?
Your supervising social worker will be available for you to talk to in order to find possible solutions. Children Always First takes care over matching and we would not place a child with you if we thought it would not work. We believe in working hard to sustain placements and giving both you and the child lots of support to try and make things work. Once we have run out of ideas a child may have to be found a more suitable placement for their needs. But at Children Always First we never give up on our children and we expect our carers to stick with children rather than giving up too easily. There are times things will not work out but it should never be because of a failing by the agency or our carers.
Q36. Can a foster child come along on holiday with us?
We actively encourage you to take the children on holiday with you. We will even pay you two weeks extra money to pay for this if you do not require respite. Children are encouraged to experience as many things as possible and to participate in everyday family routines. If it is not possible for children to come on holiday with you, respite care can be arranged with another carer.
Q37. We have a friend who gave up their job before applying to become a foster carer, so that they could foster full-time. Should we do this?
We would not recommend anyone giving up a job prior to them being approved as a foster carer. When you apply to become a foster carer we can not give any guarantee that you will be approved as a carer or whether you will get placements. We recommend no applicant give up work prior to their assessment being approved. The same applies to those who may currently be approved by another fostering agency.
It is important that you talk to any children living with you about how they feel about fostering. Fostering will affect them as much as it will affect you. Ask them how they might feel about sharing you and your time with other children. Ask how they might feel about sharing space in the house and possibly toys as well. Ring us for information to help you to explain fostering to young children
Q39. Will the child continue to go to their own school or attend a school within my community?
Children placed long-term may transfer to a school within your community. Children placed short-term may continue going to their regular school with their friends. The child’s individual circumstances will be taken into account when deciding what schooling is best for them. You need to remember that you will be responsible for getting them to school so this will need to be taken into account when deciding if a placement is sustainable.