We’re often asked, ‘can you foster if you have pets?’ and our answer is yes! Dogs, cats, and all sorts of other animals can be a fantastic addition to your foster family. As long as you are over the age of 21 and have a spare bedroom, we’ll always consider you for fostering.
Being in foster care is difficult for any child, but it can be even more challenging for LGBT+ youth. Many young people have reported feeling they have to hide their sexual identity in their foster homes – which is why it’s important for foster carers to be open and accepting about all sexual orientations and gender identities.
There are lots of misconceptions surrounding age when it comes to becoming a foster carer. Many people believe that there is an age limit for foster parents, when in reality there isn’t! As long as you have the dedication, time and space to welcome a child into your home, it’s likely you’d make a brilliant foster parent.
In order to foster you need a spare bedroom. But what happens when your house isn’t big enough and you don’t have the space to welcome a foster child? Can foster parents get help with housing?
Frustratingly, the answer is: it can depend. But in most cases, no, it likely won’t be possible for you to get a bigger house to become a foster parent.
Many people who are looking to foster or adopt feel that very young children would be a good fit for their family. After all, babies are cute bundles of joy- but it’s important to remember that looking after a baby is very hard work for any parent. So, can I foster a baby?
Simply put, it is possible to foster babies, but it is rare that very young children come into care immediately within a long-term placement plan.
When a child enters foster care, their relationship with their birth family changes but those connections will still be important. Fostering contact with birth families will help to maintain a child’s identity and culture. Keeping in contact with parents and other family members helps a foster child stay in touch with where they come from. A child in care may even one day return to their families, so maintaining that relationship is vital.
You’ve done all the paperwork, you’ve passed the assessment, gone through the training, and planned the million and one things you want to be ready – and then the call comes: there’s a foster child that’s perfect for your family!
What do you do next? In this article, we take you through 5 things you should know to feel confident saying ‘yes!’ to your first foster placement.
You’re likely familiar with the separation anxiety many children show when leaving their parents or carers, but those feelings can also affect caregivers themselves.
Parental separation anxiety typically occurs in families when a child goes to nursery, starts school, or spends time away from home. For foster parents, it can also be part of the difficult process of saying goodbye to a foster child leaving your care.
Having a new baby is stressful for any parent, but can be full of difficulties for teenage mums in unsafe situations or who are struggling to take care of themselves.
If you’re interested in becoming a foster carer, you might be wondering if foster children can share bedrooms. While foster children usually need their own room, there is one potential exception: same-sex foster siblings.
Read on to learn more about why foster children need their own space, and when and how foster siblings can share a room.
When you bring a foster child into your home, they’ll quickly become part of your family – and you’ll want them to share in all your family activities, including holidays! We encourage our foster families to include foster children in travel plans, but there are a few things to consider first.
Here’s what you need to know about travelling – locally or internationally – with your foster child.
There are a lot of questions to consider when deciding to become a foster carer, but none more important than how a foster child will fit into your family – which might leave you wondering what to expect from foster children of different ages.
‘Can I be a foster parent and work full time’ Is a popular question, but the reality about working and becoming a foster parent isn’t always straightforward. Many foster carers dedicate themselves to fostering full-time, while others continue to work part-time. There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to working and fostering, but there are some important considerations to take into account when you’re deciding to become a foster carer.
For any young person leaving home to live on their own for the first time, the experience can be a bit overwhelming – and it can be more challenging for young people who don’t have a close family support network, like teens in foster care. That’s why the government and Compass Fostering step in to help during that difficult transition period.
A lot of the young people in our care at Compass Fostering are teenagers. Unfortunately, some people think teenagers will be difficult, distant, or troublemakers – but often the relationships between teens and their foster carers are some of the strongest and most rewarding we see.
Our foster carers come from all sorts of backgrounds and bring their own unique strengths and abilities to the fostering experience. At Compass Fostering, we focus on building the strengths of our carers through the REACH approach.
Bringing a new foster child into your home is an exciting time for the whole family. You may not know exactly what to expect, but you want to make them feel as welcome as possible.
To help things go smoothly, follow our top foster child bedroom ideas!
If you’re interested in fostering a child, you might be wondering about the UK National Standards for foster care. These are set out by the UK government, and give important guidance for fostering services, local authorities and foster carers.
They may seem complicated, but don’t worry – the concepts underpinning them are simple to understand, and if you decide to foster with Compass Fostering, we will guide you every step of the way.
As a foster carer, you’ll come across children with many kinds of special needs, ranging from learning disabilities to cognitive and physical ones. Many diagnoses require specific attention, but a few principles of care form a good foundation to help meet the unique challenges of caring for young people with special needs.
If you’re considering fostering a child with special needs, or if a child in your care has recently been diagnosed with special needs, here’s how you can support their development:
There is an ever-growing demand for foster families in the UK, for every child people think is in foster care, there are actually two. With an increasing need for foster parents, and seriously underestimated numbers when it comes to foster care, it is vital that children are given the safe and stable home they deserve.
For many, filling out tax forms can be a puzzling time. Endless numbers, phrases and thresholds can quickly turn a simple task into a chore. We know that tax can be a tricky territory to navigate, so we’ve prepared a guide to help you better understand foster carer tax returns.
Foster carers are required to follow specific tax guidelines and are entitled to unique tax allowances that help reduce their overall tax bills. Whether you are a new carer, a seasoned carer or are thinking about fostering and how your earnings will affect you, this guide will help you get to grips with foster carer taxes.
A common misconception surrounding fostering is you won’t be allowed to foster if you smoke. As a children’s protection service, Compass are dedicated to ensuring all the young people in our care are provided with the highest quality of support; ensuring that they can lead healthy lives. If you are a smoker, you are considered eligible to foster although there will be restrictions in place.
There are many misconceptions surrounding who can and cannot foster. Often these myths lead to many people believing that they would not be able to become foster carers when in fact they could! At Compass Fostering, we actively welcome carers from various backgrounds, religions, race, ethnicities, gender and sexual orientations as these do not define your ability to be a great foster parent.
A third of LGBT people think they will face barriers when applying to be a foster carer. We want to demystify any myths or worries that you may have when considering fostering and introduce you to Mark and Nick; a same sex couple who are a shining example of brilliant LGBT foster parents.
Can I foster if I am gay/lesbian/bisexual?
Yes – sexual orientation has no bearing on a person’s ability to be a foster carer. Whatever your sexuality, you just need to be able to offer the warmth, care and stability needed for foster care.
Can I foster if I am transgender?
Yes – your sex and/or gender do not affect your capability or suitability to foster.
Can I foster if I’m in a same-sex relationship?
Yes – couples can apply to foster together as a primary and secondary carer. A same-sex relationship does not act as a defining factor in your capacity to foster.
Mark and Nick’s story
Mark and Nick have been fostering with Compass for over 7 years. They currently have three foster children living with them and have created a loving, supportive family together. ‘When we applied with Compass, I was worried that they wouldn’t want a same sex couple or our house wouldn’t be big enough,’ Nick remembers.
‘Initially it was a fear of what people would think of a gay couple looking after someone else’s child, but we are a strong couple and knew we could address any challenges sent to “test” us and thought to ourselves “if others can do it, why can’t we?”’
‘We are just ordinary people- we had a house with a spare bedroom and that’s all that we needed.’
Luke, (23), one of their foster children is living with them in a ‘staying put’ arrangement. He came to Mark and Nick when he was 16 years old. He was the couple’s first foster child and has been with them ever since.
‘We were worried that Luke would leave soon after he came to live with us, as he was 16, he’d turn 18 and he could leave- but we could see that he needed us.’ Luke had been struggling with his own LGBT identity and Mark and Nick helped him through this period. The family even moved to a new house after Luke’s time in care came to end so he could continue to stay with them.
When in assessment, Nick was asked by their Social Worker why he wanted to foster. He remembered how he struggled as a child with his own identity- and to help a young person through this would be a worthwhile achievement. ‘We believe that everything happens for a reason and I believe that Luke came to us for the right ones. He was just 16 years late to us.’
Within their first year of fostering they were nominated and won FosterTalk’s New Carers of the Year award in 2014, act as ambassadors for other foster carers and commit their time to focus groups with Compass.
C, another of their foster children said that being cared for by LGBT foster carers doesn’t make much of a difference to him in his day to day life. ‘I don’t really think about it that much, they’re just ordinary people that look after you. It feels just like a normal everyday family, except they’re the same gender.’
Both Mark and Nick act as role models and provide support for every young person that steps into their home and they have created an environment where each of the boys feel safe. ‘A typical day in our house is similar to the TV shows where everyone is running around in the morning, yelling “where’s my trainers- have you brushed your teeth- have you got your bag?” It’s just what we call a typical family life. ‘
‘You don’t just open your home when fostering, you open your heart, your mind and a whole new way of life for all involved.’
If you believe that you could provide a safe and caring environment for young people who need it, please get in touch with us to find out more about foster care. Our welcoming team of professionals will be happy to take you through any questions you may have.
There are many different reasons why a child might be taken into foster care. We’ve created this infographic to explain some of the main ones.
Whether you’re near the end of your assessment process with us, or your fostering journey is just beginning – it’s good to have an idea about the types fostering assessment questions you’ll be asked in the final step of your assessment: your fostering panel interview.
This isn’t a session to grill you, but more a chance for the panel members to get to know you as a person. Whilst this can feel daunting, you will have had lots of discussions with your Assessing Social Worker about the topics that these questions are based around. The group of people sitting on the panel will have read your assessment (your Form F Report) and considered your own personal circumstances and lifestyle, so mostly they are tailored to you as an individual.
That being said, it’s always good to have an idea about the kind of thing you’d like to say, how you’d like to come across to others and being able to put your thoughts into words.
Take a look through our 4 fostering assessment questions to prepare for and have a think about how you would respond – we don’t want to put you in a position where you are surprised by anything we ask you.
“Why would you like to be a foster carer?”
If you’re this far into the assessment process, you’ll have been asked this fairly often by now, likely at the beginning when you first showed interest in becoming a foster carer, throughout the process with your Assessing Social Worker and now finalising your assessment. You’ll be well-versed in your response and that’s great, they will want to make sure that you’ve thought about your motives especially this far into the process!
“What’s your support network like?”
We want to make sure that you as a carer will be getting the support you’ll need from those around you, emotionally and physically, like help with the school run or doctors’ appointments. We’ll be there for the expertise, guidance and everything else, but it will be good to know that you’ve got someone you can have a cup of tea with when it gets a little challenging.
“How will your family adapt to fostering?”
This could cover one or many things; perhaps you have children who will need to share their space with another child when they may not have had to before. Or maybe your partner works away from home occasionally and you’ve had discussions around how this will fit in with placements. You could be a single applicant who has applied along with the support of a family member who lives outside of your home.
Whatever your circumstance, it’s important to know and acknowledge how fostering with affect those around you, both for your family members as well as the young person you’ll be caring for.
“What did you think about your Skills to Foster course?”
We believe in empowering our carers to develop a full range of skills and professional expertise – not only to help and support the children they look after, but also to enrich and enhance your own lives.
The three-day Skills to Foster course is an important part of your assessment, we like to offer you the opportunity to mix with other prospective foster carers, learn about the types of care that young people may require and create an environment that you feel comfortable asking questions in.
They will be interested in your take away from the course, and as you’ll be required to attend additional training once you become a foster carer it’s good to have an idea about what you find stimulating, too.
Our experience in fostering
Hi my name is Paul and my family have been fostering for nearly 16 years, initially with the Local Authority and now with Compass Fostering.
Over the years I have tended to foster problematic boys which I have enjoyed. It is about being able to make a difference in their lives and understanding why they behaviour the way they do. Watching them develop and grow as individuals gives you an enormous sense of satisfaction and they still come back to say hello as adults!
Through my knowledge and experience over the years I now work in specialised fostering with Compass and look after young people who need more high level supervision. It’s also about being an advocate for the children you foster, for them to have someone who cares enough to fight their corner.
Every journey starts with a single step. I took mine first step into fostering 15 years ago. I am now a full-time foster carer to a young man with learning difficulties. Looking back my wife and I had talked about fostering and decided we would look into it when our youngest child reached 16 years old. We did not know what to expect but both felt we had a lot to offer a young person or siblings; a good and loving family home life.
There it was an advert saying we are looking for foster parents for two boys, siblings, aged 12 and 8. So I rang the number and enquired. It was the local authority and we were asked to attend a course over 6 weeks of 2 nightly sessions of 4 hour tuition. It gave helped us understand what was expected of foster carers and how to handle situations that might arise. Most of it was common sense but there was the information about happenings that did not occur in most parental lives.
Some things are hard to understand at first like us having a social worker then the children having a different social worker yet we all worked together. Lots of acronyms that everyone talks about. SENCO, EBD, MLD and ADHD and lots more. Section 20 or a full care order did not mean anything to us at first. Then LAC reviews every 6 months and Multi–Professsional meetings.
My advice is keep written records and inform your supervising social worker about everything, and if you’re not sure seek advice first. Don’t panic if something happens outside of your control, just contact out of hours support and inform them of the situation. Most placements are pre-planned and are done in stages, unlike emergency placements where it can be a lot quicker. When most children move in there is a period of time we have called the honeymoon period which both parties try very hard to get along together.
Before you have a placement I would ask what are the rules about pocket money, clothes allowance and savings. Contact with birth family, telephone contact and letterbox contact. Mobile phones and Internet use are hard to monitor and can cause lots of problems. We have always believed in actions carry consequences so without getting into arguments it can be discussed with the children before anything happens.
Routines are a part of every day life and we always try to establish them in a positive manner so it becomes a pleasure instead of a chore. Every school day is similar which helps in becoming acceptable norm and also stops any problems that might arise before we get to school. Activities are pre-planned and enrolment is encouraged. There are lots of small rewards for positive behaviour and any problems discussed when everyone is at base level.
We have been with Compass now for over a year and our young man is progressing and learning lots of every day chores which will help him into some kind of independence. Training is good and offered on a regular basis. There is a myth that independent companies only receive the children who are too hard to place locally, this is definitely not the case and there are not enough carers to take every placement. We can honestly say that we have been supported at every level.
On the day I rang and enquired about the siblings who needed fostering the were was an animal programme on TV and at the very end they were advertising for people to look after a three legged donkey. They received over 3,000 calls. We were fast tracked through our fostering course and went on to foster the 2 brothers who stayed with us until the oldest reached 21. They are now 23 and 27 respectfully and both working full time. After are initial meeting with the boys I asked the social worker how many calls they had received to foster the boys and you probably guessed. Just one.