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All about Foster Care

Foster care is utilized in circumstances where birth parent(s) are unable or unwilling to take care of their child. It may be in the wake of a behavioral problem, which calls for a specialized treatment. Or it could be owing to a temporary illness of the birth parent, which curtails them to take care of their offspring for a short term.

Foster carers are recruited by the community service organizations. They provide care to children and youths who are unable to live at home due to the risk of abuse or neglect. Placements offer a safe living arrangement for these children temporarily, from birth to an age of 18.

Training and Assistance

A foster parent is entitled to receive intensive training, which is sponsored by the placement agency. Monetary assistance is also extended to help foster parents meet the child’s day to day expenses. The amount of reimbursement varies from state to state and even city to city.

Reunification

The foster caring concludes with the reunion of the child with his or her biological parents. This reunion takes place either at 18 or when the State decides that the conditions are suitable. In exceptional cases, the child is adopted by the foster parents for good.

Keeping in mind the complications involved, the Australian government runs numerous placement agencies to make the process of adoption easier and fruitful for the foster parents. If you are yet to decide or feel the need for more information, do refer http://www.cyf.vic.gov.au, which is the official “care for youth and families” website by the state government of Victoria, Australia.

Drusilla Modjeska is a social worker working in the field of Child adoption & care for more than 20 years.

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What Is Fostering?

If you love children and are looking for a way to have a positive impact on their life then you may have thought about foster care before. Fostering is a way for people to help children who have faced disadvantages in their lives enjoy some stability and positive reinforcement by offering up their homes and their time.

Fostering comes in many guises, however, and can range from short relationships with a variety of different children to very long and intense ones with others. Foster carers differ as widely as the children they look after and they can offer anything from day care to children who return to their birth parents at night but need some extra care during the day, to long term caring where children become part of the foster family for extended periods.

The reasons for children ending up needing the help of foster carers can also vary widely. For example, it could be because of illness in their birth family or due to relationship breakdowns or even unsafe situations in which the welfare of the child has become threatened. In all of these cases, the provision of a safe and stable environment can be truly life changing for children and ensure that their future is brighter.

Fostering means opening up your personal home and your everyday life to children, so it’s not for everyone. Those who are able to provide adequate care and attention to the children who need it most are sure to find it an extremely rewarding experience. Social workers and fostering agencies will be able to help you discover whether you are a suitable candidate for fostering, both for your benefit but, more importantly, also for the benefit of the children you would potentially be caring for.

One thing that people need to be aware of when considering starting to provide foster care is the difference between this and adoption. When it comes to adoption, the legal ties between a child and its birth family are severed. This is not the case when it comes to fostering. Instead, legal responsibility for the child remains with the birth family or the local authority. However, the relationships formed between foster carers and children remain crucial for the wellbeing of the child.

Anyone who finds themselves asking ‘what is fostering?’ and who is keen to find out what they can do to improve the lives of children who need a little extra nurturing is likely to be a good candidate for the job.

Adam Singleton writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.

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How Independent Fostering Agencies Can Help

For busy Local Authority social workers, suddenly finding a child they work with placed in an Independent Fostering Agency can be a bit different from the norm. Firstly the agency start requesting all the necessary paperwork for a looked after child and additional information on top of that – risk assessments, placement agreement forms etc. It can be a bit daunting when all the social worker wants to do is settle a needy child in a safe place and move on to the next dilemma!

The aforementioned paperwork can’t be avoided and having it on file is a requirement of OFSTED for all fostering agencies, which, like Local Authority fostering teams are rigorously inspected. However once this process is completed, the fostering agency is there to help you. Each foster carer has a supervising social worker with a relatively protected caseload so which means they have more time than many busy social workers to support the carer in delivering a good service both to you and the children in placement. To make the most of the placement it is vital that the supervising social worker is your first port of call. She or he can negotiate finer details and requests from you with the foster carer so that your wishes can be fulfilled. For example you may need additional support for contact with birth family or getting the chid to and from school – this is something that needs to be discussed with the social worker in the first instance. The role of the supervising social worker is to protect the foster carer from any unnecessary stress and thus allow them to concentrate on the important task of caring for children. He or she needs to be included in the lines of communication in order to make this happen smoothly.

Additional services provided by the agency include family support workers, life story work with children, contact supervision, support when a child is out of school and many others. These services can be negotiated with the social worker at the time of the placement or at a later stage if the need arises.

Most social workers who have used independent fostering agencies have found the quality of work to be as good if not better than that of their Local Authority counterparts. This is largely because of the lower caseloads held by the agency social worker, which enables them to provide excellent support to the foster carer. In addition, the extra services that can be offered by the agency can often really make the difference. Agencies are willing and able to help in any way they can and to make life easier for busy social workers.

South African born Keith has lived in the south of England for most of his life. After graduating from University with a degree in Business Information Systems Management he decided to start Strawberrysoup a website design company based in West Sussex and Dorset. Keith successfully gained entry into the Southampton University Air Squadron and spent over 12 months training to fly. Since then he has continued to follow his interest in flying and has now began his own training in the form of a Private Pilot’s Licence. Keith also spent 13 months working within the Image and Printing Group at Hewlett Packard in Bracknell. Throughout his time there, he was responsible for many activities including events organisation and website design and maintenance.

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Private Fostering

It is estimated that more than 15,000 children in England and Wales are privately fostered – but many people are unaware that they are involved in a private fostering arrangement, or that the law says they must notify the council.

Private foster care is when a parent asks someone to look after their child under 16, or under 18 if the child is disabled, for 28 days of more. Private foster care occurs when a child or young person is cared for by an adult who is not his or her parent(s); a person with parental responsibility for them.

Private foster care may occur when a parent makes alternative arrangements (including financial arrangements) for the care of their children or young people and it is important that the potential carer has a good understanding of the child’s needs

Although the LA is not involved in making these arrangements, it is important that they are notified about them.

The following are examples of the type of children and young people that might be involved in private fostering arrangements:

come from abroad for their education and health care

live with a friend’s family after separation, divorce or difficulties at home

live with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend

have parents who come to this country to study or work but whose working hours make it difficult for them to care for their children.

arrangements made during parental illness or children living with other adults because their parents study or work involves long or unsociable hours

a child from overseas staying with a host family while attending a language school or overseas students at boarding school who stay with a host family during the holidays.

Under the Children Act 1989 there are a number of responsibilities designed to safeguard children that may be privately fostered. The key points are:

It is the responsibility of the parent, carer, and anyone else involved in making the private fostering arrangement, to notify the local council of the private fostering arrangement.

Upon notification, it is up to the LAs to satisfy themselves that the welfare of the children who are privately fostered in their area is safeguarded and promoted. They also have to satisfy themselves that private foster carers are suitable and also ensure that private foster carers receive any information that they may need to help them care for the child.

Where the private fostering arrangement is made in an emergency situation, the requirement is that parents’ notify the local authority within 48 hours of the child being placed with the private foster carer. 

Privately fostering a child is always a big responsibility, and the LA has a duty to oversee the arrangements to promote the welfare of the child and to ensure they are protected.

Joe is a qualified UK social worker who supports SimplyFostering in recruiting foster carers in the UK.

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Fostering Partnerships

FOSTERING PROVIDERS – WORKING TOGETHER

The problem – The chronic shortage of foster carers in the UK.

There are many thousands of unsuccessful enquiries made to the 800 UK Fostering Providers annually. Simply Fostering estimate that 60% of people who express an interest in fostering, are not taken to the next stage because they do not meet the requirements of the Provider they have contacted. On occasions IFA’s will refer some of these enquirers to their Local Authority, however, this is not reciprocal. The vast majority of unsuccessful enquirers are lost, probably forever.

Reasons why a Fostering Provider decides not to proceed with an enquiry includes the applicant does not live in an area the agency covers, the applicants have younger children of their own or the applicants are only interested in looking after a specific age group.

There are a high number of IFA’s who are looking only to recruit foster carers who have the experience and potential to look after challenging teenagers, as those type of placements are the most common referrals for most IFA’s today.

In July 2009 Simply Fostering launched a new initiative called the ‘Fostering Enquiry Clearing House’. The thinking behind the idea was to try and utilise effectively the foster carer enquiries that were not being used or followed up by Fostering agencies and Local Authorities.

Simply Fostering contacted all of the Fostering Providers nationwide, explaining the reasoning behind the service and suggesting that they arrange to forward their unwanted foster carer enquiries which Simply Fostering would then send to Fostering Agencies whose criteria for assessment might match the enquirer’s circumstances.

As an added incentive, the referring Fostering Providers are paid an administration fee, if the enquirers go on to become approved as foster carers.

To date, only four Independent Fostering Agencies and one Local Authority have shown an interest in the service and have referred enquiries.

A big thank you to Capstone Foster Care who have been at the forefront of referrers having referred 80 enquiries to date. Also the same to Kaleidoscope Foster Care, recently one of their referrals successfully proceeded to assessment and approval with another Agency.

The Fostering Network estimates a shortage of at least 8,200 foster families nationwide. Every potential fostering enquiry is precious. If as a society we are to utilise the resources available to us effectively and provide the choice and diversity of placements needed for children in the care system, all Fostering Providers should be enthusiastic participants in the Simply Fostering’s ‘Fostering Enquiry Clearing House’, and if not, why not?

For more information contact:

Annette Webb

Simply Fostering

mailto:info@simplyfostering.co..uk

http://www.simplyfostering.co.uk

 

 

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