Posts tagged as: Fostering Advice

Fostering a Child Can Change Their Life – and Yours

Speak to any foster carer and you’re likely to hear a similar story: fostering has changed their life.

When our carer Deb was newer to fostering she said, “we’ve had our girls since November 2019 last year and they’ve filled our house and lives with fun, laughter, cuddles and drama. They give us insight into the world through their eyes, which is full of resilience, hope, joy and finding fun in everything they do.”

Deb's three foster daughters have thrived under their care. They are doing well in school and have been able to keep a stable routine.

Being welcomed into a secure and loving foster home can transform life for a child in need – and bring a host of benefits for foster families as well.

The benefits of care for a foster child

A child’s brain grows and changes rapidly in the first three years of their life, and the attachments they experience during this time can affect the way the brain is shaped. Experiences of neglect often have long-lasting negative effects – but foster care can give children the chance to build new secure attachments and begin to heal from past traumas. The benefits of foster care for children can be countless, but it can also cause additional trauma from being removed from their family, even if it is in their best interest. Our foster families help to build their confidence and their therapeutic parenting applied can help to support children through the initial tough times.

The benefits of a safe and loving environment:

  • Foster carers provide the security and stability crucial to a child’s development.
  • Modelling a positive family dynamic gives foster children a chance to experience a more fulfilling and positive life – and for children who may have felt like outcasts, there’s nothing better than to be welcomed into a loving home.
  • Many looked-after children experience unsafe or abusive living situations before coming into care. Foster care plays a vital role in giving children the chance to get out of those environments.
  • Foster care improves a child’s chances of succeeding in education. Not only are they able to access additional support and receive a carefully considered plan for their education, a safe and secure home allows a child to concentrate and improve their academic performance.
  • Positive bonds formed with foster parents and foster siblings can affect the way looked-after children behave towards others and give them a better framework for developing relationships in the future.
  • An encouraging home environment helps a foster child build critical social skills and become more confident in themselves.
  • Very simply – and very importantly – foster parents give a foster child the love they need to thrive.

Benefits for foster carers

Foster carers, like Deb, often discover that looking after a child in need is a life-changing experience. When some people begin looking into looking after children, some families draw up a pros and cons of fostering list. This is quite a crass way to make a decision, but it can help you figure out how your lives will change. The positives will always outweigh the negatives, and our foster families are a resilient bunch!

There are many benefits for foster parents, including:

  • Discovering the best version of yourself. As you rise to new challenges and strive to meet the needs of a child, you may discover skills and resilience you didn’t know you had.
  • Building new skills through training and experience, such as therapeutic parenting and conflict resolution.
  • Fostering a child broadens your family’s horizons and teaches your children empathy, kindness and acceptance.
  • You get to join a new and loving community of carers. At Compass Fostering, we see carers form wonderful and long-lasting friendships as they support one another through the fostering journey.
  • Foster care also benefits your community as it reduces the risk of that child ending up homeless or involved with crime.
  • Fostering is a deeply fulfilling act, as you get to watch a child overcome their past to flourish and grow – all while knowing that you were a key part of making that happen.
  • Foster carers often develop lifelong relationships with former foster children, with many keeping in touch and remaining important parts of one another’s lives.

If you need any more convincing about the benefits of foster care, this wonderful poem from one of our Compass Fostering carers shows just powerful an experience fostering can be.

Fostering can truly change your life for the better – and change the lives of children in need. Discover the difference you can make by getting in touch to find out more about become a foster parent with Compass Fostering.


Can You Foster a Child With a Criminal Record in the UK?

The question ‘can you foster a child with a criminal record,’ cannot necessarily be answered with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. Firstly, it is important to know that every foster carer assessment is unique and should be approached personally and individually. Every application is assessed and if you do have a criminal record, many things will be taken into consideration when it comes to processing your application. However, by law, only convictions that relate to offences against children, sexual offences and domestic offences can prevent you from fostering. Serious convictions, such as sexual assault, rape and any crime committed against children, will mean you will not be able to foster.

What is taken into consideration?

The main thing to take into consideration is your ability to care for a child and provide a safe and welcoming environment for them. If your criminal record reflects any risk to a child, you will not be able to foster. However, if it is evident the crime committed proves you no threat to children who may be put into your care, you may still be able to foster. Past offences do not necessarily mean you cannot become a foster carer. Children and young people need a special kind of person to really connect with and this will not be overlooked when you apply, if you are the right person for the role.

The application process

Part of your application process will include a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check on everyone living at your address over the age of 18. Before going through the application process, it is always expected that you talk to us about any criminal record you, or someone living in your household, may have. Being open and honest about these past offences from the very beginning will help to assess the possibility of you becoming a foster carer; the earlier you mention it, the better.

Talking about the past offences committed by yourself, or another person living in your household, can be a daunting prospect. However, having a criminal record will not automatically disqualify you from becoming a foster carer. Many things are taken into consideration when a criminal record is being assessed, including:

  • How long ago the crime was committed.
  • What crime was committed.
  • The severity of the crime.
  • The circumstances of the crime committed.

Always be open and honest

It is always important to be honest when applying to be a foster carer, so make sure you mention any criminal records as soon as the opportunity arises.

You can read more on the UK legislation around fostering with a criminal record here. Alternatively, you can learn a bit more about the process of becoming a foster parent and request a digital brochure today. If you have more questions about fostering a child with a criminal record, you can give us a call on 0800 566 8317 and we will be able to answer any questions you may have.


Keeping Families Together: Fostering Siblings

In the UK, 80% of children have at least one sibling. With children from a cross section of the general population being taken into care by local authorities, naturally many of these children will be part of a sibling group. There is an urgent need for foster families who have space and the ability to foster a small family of siblings. Across the UK, 86% of fostering services have a need for carers of sibling groups, but despite this, many children in care are split from their siblings.

By placing sibling groups together, you could offer these children even greater stability and support their mental health. The positive benefits are many – including better educational outcomes for children, extending into adulthood.

We spoke to two of our fantastic foster parents, Deborah and Brian Towey, who have been fostering for 2 years. Their current sibling group came to them in November 2019. Both Deb and Brian became full time foster carers to dedicate time to the twin girls and their little sister. We asked them about fostering a sibling group, and how their lives have changed.

Urgent need

Extra support – by fostering siblings you’ll see first-hand the positive changes that the extra layer of support can provide to children. Crucially, by keeping children together, feelings of isolation are greatly reduced. Deb says, “‘Obviously at first the dynamic of having three children is your house is a bit of a culture shock, but they settled in very quickly. They’re lovely girls, right from the beginning they easily settled in.’

A sibling group can find comfort in one another as well as their foster parents. “The first month is that transition period as you’re getting used to each other, and they’re getting used to your routine, and you’re getting used to everybody’s personalities.”

Attachment

Not comfortable alone – as part of a sibling unit, a child may feel more comfortable joining a new family. While fostering siblings can be hard work, the results of giving two children from the same family a happy home have shown to be very positive. “The two twins like similar things but they’re completely different. One of them is very quiet and shy, she’s coming out of her shell a lot more, but her sister is the confident louder one. We spend time together with them as a family, but also, we try to share time amongst them fairly, so we all get time alone with one another too.”

Support

Belonging – the comfort and security of being placed in a foster family along with a biological sibling can help a child to settle, as the only support or security they have ever known remains intact – the child is likely to be less frightened and not worried about whether they will ever be reunited with their brother or sister. This is particularly true of children who have come from violent or abusive homes.

Adapting to family life

Difficulties – studies have shown that older children in particular often struggle to feel part of a family. The dividing of their own family is so overwhelming that it can impact them and prevent them forming a bond with their foster family. Keeping children together creates instant reassurance and familiarity and can significantly help a child settle into a new home. It can also help them to embrace their new surroundings.

Deb says, “We have a big family, they see their birth family and they get given lots of things. Being three girls in the house, they have a lot of toys and clothes. We have to sit down with them and go through and pick what’s for charity. We talk about how other children don’t have as much as them or as many nice things and we choose things to give away to help.”

Keeping siblings together in the same home is vital for children and young people's sense on identity.

Future happiness

A bright future – for those children in sibling groups who are kept together, the opportunity to continue to share the relationship can allow siblings to thrive. Their wellbeing is boosted, making them happier overall. This has very positive effects on the outcome of a child’s life.

Fostering siblings can be hugely rewarding, and it isn’t just the children that benefit but also you, the foster parent. The difference foster parents can make is remarkable. While they may have had a few less holidays, Deb said that she wouldn’t go back to her and her husbands ‘old life’. “We love seeing them having fun. They have filled our house and lives with fun, laughter, cuddles, drama and given us insight into the world through their eyes, which is full of resilience, hope, joy and finding fun in everything they do.”

When you become a foster carer with Compass Fostering, you will be supported every step of the way. We provide training, resources and a supportive community to help you become a confident carer – get in touch to find out more.


How to Build a Strong Bond with Your Foster Child

It is never easy to come and live in a new home, especially when you don’t know anyone in it. Moving foster home can be a tough time for children and young people, especially I’ve they’ve been let down multiple times. It’s important that they feel welcomed and wanted. Here’s how you can start building positive relationships with children in foster care.

Groundwork

Quality time – making time for your foster child doesn’t just mean being around when they are home from school or having dinner together as a family. Quality bonding time can be as simple as watching a film together, enjoying an activity or walking in the park.
Building trust – just as enjoying quality time is a key bonding tool, so is giving your child space. This is especially true for older children. By being available to them at first, while allowing them room to breathe will help you both to adjust. This can take time. Allow your foster children to be themselves. It is important for the family dynamic and everyone within the family to have their own relationship.

Our foster carer Sara said that getting [her foster son] to bond with her and open up, “Was a process. The key for me was I let him drive it completely. I would say, what do you need from me right now? What would make you feel safer? That choice is vital.”

Bonding with a foster baby

Face to face – bonding with very young children is all about looking at your baby and seeing how they react – sit or lay down near your child face-to-face for a few seconds and watch what they are doing. Are they looking at you? If they make sounds or smile, make sounds, and smile bac. You can help the bonding process in little ways, and there is so much you can say without using any words at all. Say what you are doing and copy the sounds that your baby is making.
Singing – very young children enjoy hearing your voice. Share a story or sing along to your favourite tunes – you might even make up your own. Playing simple games with your baby to see what they enjoy can help the bonding process. Games such as peekaboo help to create moments between you and your child throughout the day.

The importance of routine

Safety and belonging – establishing routine from the beginning of a placement has many benefits. Routine creates a sense of safety and belonging. Children in foster care are often craving stability as their lives have been sent in many directions. A routine reaffirms safety and allows a child to find a key role in the family. The simplicity of reading a book before bedtime, brushing teeth after every meal, or helping with jobs around the house (tidying away toys after playtime) are all ways to build a regular routine. It is something they can come to depend on each day and will help strengthen their trust in you.

Reasonable expectations

Have fun – children like to have fun, and this can be a very good distraction during life changes. Find out what they like to do, what interests them – go for a walk and splash in puddles, read stories together, have a dance party at home, throw a tea party.
Privacy – part of helping a stable young person means providing them with unconditional love, compassion and privacy – this starts from a young age. You might be the first person in your child’s life to provide this. By offering your child the right to privacy you can help them heal and this will allow for the bonds between you to develop.

Build Trust

Listening – effective communication is back and forth between you and your foster child – it is not one-sided. It may be hard to hear what is going on in their mind, especially when it comes to those events they may have encountered before entering your family. As a foster parent, it is important to listen and respond in the appropriate way. You want them to feel like they can confide in you and that you are always there for them.
Praise – helping your foster child gain confidence is most positively achieved by praise. Even the smallest of achievements should be praised, as this will have great impact – building on their confidence and self-worth.
Physical contact – touch can help establish an emotional connection with your foster child. However, it may be that your child has experienced difficulties in the past and may take some time to feel comfortable again. It is important to understand that a child may not be willing to accept contact, so take the time to build their trust. This is something that your foster support team can help you and advise you with.

Our foster carer Sara said that when her foster son came to stay, on his first night he was upset. “I asked if he wanted a cuddle. He said no. I said that’s fine, no problem. I let him have the sofa to himself whilst I sat in the chair. This way I wasn’t crowding him. I gave him his space while staying in the room, ‘an I’m open to you if you need me’ gesture.”

When you become a foster carer with Compass Fostering, you will be supported every step of the way. We provide training, resources, and a supportive community to help you become a confident carer – get in touch to find out more.


Fostering Support: Advice on How Foster Parents Can Support One Another

It is great to know you are not alone on your fostering journey and that support remains available once a child arrives in your care. We have a dedicated team of local professionals on hand to support our foster carers who are providing a home for some of the UK’s most vulnerable children. We are here to help, and you can speak to us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We understand the value of support groups for foster parents. We know that carers can also connect to each other – providing support in all sorts of amazing ways.

You’ll find many local community groups for foster carers to join and most offer a place to get together regularly to meet for coffee, to chat and to share life’s ups and downs. Groups are run by experienced volunteers who are foster parents themselves and will welcome every foster family into a space where they can have fun, find support, and build a network in the local area.

How we can help

Extra support – we work hard to create a welcoming community that offers support and friendship. We can help you connect with local groups who meet regularly to share information in a relaxed and comforting setting. From coffee mornings and family fun days to support group conferences, we have a variety of events for you.

Compass Fostering support

Foster carers receive support and fostering guidance from various professionals including Carer Support Ambassadors, Clinical Psychologists, and our Lead Teacher for Education, overseen by an experienced management team.

Supervising Social Worker – as part of our commitment to you, every Compass Fostering foster carer will have a named, dedicated Supervising Social Worker who will get to know you and your family and the children you have fostered. They will be there to support you, and help with advice and guidance on any issues which may arise. You will receive regular support and supervision as you need it.

Carer Ambassadors
Carer Ambassadors support foster carers in different localities, helping with any specific needs identified by the social work team, such as transport or IT. Our local ambassadors play a vital role in our newly approved foster parent’s journey, and will make sure you have plenty of information so you can feel confident saying ‘yes!’ to your first foster child offer.

Joining the Compass community sets you up with friends for life, along with fantastic support and training. We pride ourselves on our carer support network of friends and colleagues.
Freelance Asian woman working at home, business female working on laptop and using mobile phone talking with customer on sofa in living room at home. Lifestyle women working at home concept.

Community
All our foster carers are registered with FosterTalk who provide support to foster carer households. This includes quality specialist advice and information, plus legal expenses insurance – rewarding foster carers by giving them access to a large range of discounts.
Our foster carers have created supportive, encouraging spaces for talking. Text groups and other online digital communication is also a vital part of our foster parent’s support network. We encourage our carers to get to know one another and to reach out.

Compass Fostering also organises days out for our fostering families, helping foster and birth children to get to know one another. Outings include picnics, boat rides, theme park days and many more. Days out prove really popular with our community, giving everyone the space to get to know Compass staff and other carers in their area.

You can read more about other support and benefits our foster carers receive here.

Foster Parent Support Groups Near Me

Local support for foster families – we cover all areas of England and Wales and we are always here to help support you on your fostering journey. You can find more information on our local offices providing training and support, and more on local monthly support groups in your area by following the links below:

Support groups in Kent, Essex and East-Anglia
Support groups in the North of England
Support groups in the East Midlands
Support groups in the West Midlands
Support groups in Greater London
Support groups across the South of England
Support groups throughout Wales

When you become a foster carer with Compass Fostering, you will be supported every step of the way. We provide training, resources and a supportive community to help you become a confident carer – get in touch to find out more.


Kinship Care: How is it Different from Regular Foster Care?

Family relationships can be complicated – sometimes when parents are unable to provide adequate care for their children, family members or friends will step in to help.

These arrangements, called kinship care or family and friends care, are often informal – but many also involve varying degrees of state involvement or oversight. While they aren’t classified as foster care placements, which typically involve a child being cared for by an approved unrelated/unknown foster parent, there are guidelines to how these arrangements work.

What happens when a child is in kinship care?

Kinship foster care sees a child living with a relative or friend who isn’t their parent. Often, these relatives or friends will step in when parents are unable to cope with the responsibility of caring for their child – sometimes due to mental health issues, drug or alcohol problems, or unexpected life circumstances like bereavement.

There are many types of care that involve friends or family, including:
Informal kinship care
When a family member or friend looks after a child who can’t be cared for by the birth parents, not at the request of the local council.

Formal kinship care
When a family member or friend looks after a child who can’t be cared for by the birth parents at the request of the local council. In these arrangements, the local authority takes on financial and parental responsibility for the child.

Private fostering
If the carer is not a close relative of the child (such as a grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle, or step-parent) and the child is under 16, then the arrangement is called private fostering. There is no financial support provided by the local authority.

Child arrangements order / special guardianship order
Child arrangements orders are legal orders where the court decides where a child will live, while special guardianship orders are legal orders where the court appoints a carer as ‘Special Guardian’ for a child until they turn 18. The local authority will sometimes pay an allowance to these types of carers.

Help for kinship carers

In most cases, it is the local council who provides support in the case of kinship care arrangements.

Depending on the formality of the arrangement, support may include:
Child benefits
Child tax credits
Help caring for a disabled child
Help for special education needs
• Fostering allowances for formal kinship care
• Fostering allowances for special guardians

Resources

Learn more about kinship care and access resources and support at:
Grandparents Plus: Around half of kinship carers are grandparents, but this non-profit offers advice and support for all kinship carers.
The Family Rights Group: This charity works with parents and relatives with children in need.
Buttle UK: Provides grants for parents in need, including carers.
Coram Children’s Legal Centre: Provides free legal advice as part of their mission to promote and protect children’s rights.

At Compass Fostering, we help members of the community train to become confident foster carers for children in need. If you’d like to find out more about what we do, please get in touch.


Can You Foster a Child if You Have a Dog?

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.
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Providing a Safe Home: Fostering LGBT+ Youth

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.
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Is There an Age Limit for Fostering?

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.
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Can I Get a Bigger House to Foster?

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.
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Fostering Babies: The Realities of Looking After Infants

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.
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How Does Fostering Contact With Birth Families Work?

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.
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5 Things to Consider For Your First Day With a Foster Child

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.
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How to Cope With Parental Separation Anxiety

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.
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Advice On Fostering Teenage Mums

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.

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Fostering Siblings: When Can Foster Children Share Bedrooms?

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.
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Make Memories Together: Travelling Internationally with Foster Children

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.
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Foster Child Age Ranges: What to Expect (and Can You Pick?)

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.
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Can I Foster and Work Full Time?

‘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.
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What Age Does Foster Care Stop?

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.
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Being a Teenager is Hard, But Fostering One is Totally Worth it

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.
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How to be a Good Foster Parent With Our 5-Step Approach

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. This approach underpins everything that we do at Compass and is a great starting point for how to be a good foster parent.
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6 Welcoming Foster Bedroom Ideas

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!
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The UK National Standards for Foster Care

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.
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Fostering children with special needs can be truly rewarding – if you have the right tools

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:
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What Disqualifies You From Being a Foster Parent?

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.
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Foster Carer Tax Return, Exemptions & Allowances

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.
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Can You Foster If You Smoke?

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.
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LGBT+ Fostering: Can I foster?

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.

Mark and Nick at FosterTalk’s Carer Awards ceremony

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.


Reasons For a Child to be Taken Into Foster Care

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.

Reasons For a Child to be Taken Into Foster Care Infographic


4 Fostering Assessment Questions to Prepare For

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.
Older Couple - fostering questions for Form F

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.
fostering assessment questions - Woman offering support

“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.

Learn more about fostering panel, or read our fostering questions and answers to learn more about fostering with Compass.


Every Journey Starts With A Single Step

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.