Below are some of our most freqently asked questions from people who are considering becoming a foster carer. If you can't find an answer to your question here, please don't hesitate to get in touch. You can call us on 0191 561 2223 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is there an upper age limit to fostering?
No, you just need to be healthy and have the right attitude to help children and young people. Often, people in their later years have a great deal of experience, and we know they make amazing foster carers. Fostering does require some stamina, so all we ask is that you have the physical and mental energy required to meet the needs of the children you're caring for.
Can I foster if I have a pet?
Yes, acessing all the pets in the home is part of our assessment process and we know many children enjoy living with pets! If you have a dog, we'll need to make sure that it isn't a dangerous breed and that it will be safe to have children in your family home. We also need to know the dog's habits and routines, and any other factors that could be risky to a child or to your dog.
What happens if I don't have a child living with me and drop my income for a while?
When preparing to foster, you need to think about your income and outgoings and what you need to live on. We can provide information about fees and allowances but these are payable when you are caring for a child. You may want to continue full or part-time work alongside fostering but we ask you to talk to us about what this entails, so we know what it means for any children who stay with you. You can claim benefits when you don't have a child living with you.
Can I foster if I smoke?
Yes, but it shouldn't come as a surprise that we encourage smokers to quit. You will not be able to have a child under five in a smoking household and we also require that no smoking takes place inside the home.
Do I need to be able to drive to foster?
No, but it does help. All of our children are from the Sunderland area and are likely to have school arrangements within the city. However, this may still be a few miles away, and foster carers tend to manage day to day life with the children more easily if they have access to a car. We do recognise the value of teaching children to travel on public transport and this may be your preferred method of getting around.
Do I have to take the child to school?
Wherever possible, we want foster carers to act as good parents and take children to school (dependent on age and stage of development). It helps children to feel more secure and enables foster carers to have daily contact with schools, to understand everything that is going on there.
Can the child go to school closer to where I live?
Schools, teachers and friends can be very important and stable elements of a child's life, especially when they had to move into foster care. We all avoid changes to a child's school because it is so important that they have continuity. However, where permanence is planned, this can often be a time where it is good to make sure that a child placed in a school close to their foster home and local community.
Can I foster for Together for Children if I live outside of Sunderland or Washington?
Yes, but we would need to be sure that you could take children to school and other arrangements. There is sometimes a need for a child to stay with a foster carer who lives further from the city area.
Can foster children share a bedroom?
Children should have their own room, unless it is agreed that it is in the best interests of a child to share with a same-sex sibling, perhaps because this will provide the comfort the children require. Cared for children should never have a shared bedroom with unrelated children or with adults in the household. The exception is babies up to the age of two, who may have a cot in the foster carer's room but must never share a bed.
Can I foster and be a childminder?
Yes, but both agencies must be aware of the arrangements and the numbers of children placed will depend on all child caring commitments that you have. You will be registered with Ofsted as a childminder and Ofsted also regulate fostering services. Experience as a childminder can be very valuable for fostering, however, we need to ensure that the needs of all children can be fully met and are not compromised due to the dual role.
If I find that fostering is not for me, what can I do?
We provide you with lots of opportunities to talk through anything that is concerning you about fostering and always try to support and encourage your development or offer different ways of approaching things. We don't give up on our foster carers and we value the work they do very much. However, foster carers are entitled to resign and the process is a smooth one. We just ask that you talk to us about this and that we can all work together to ensure the needs of any children are planned for properly and in good time.
I've heard that foster carers may be the subject of allegations by the child. Is this right?
Foster carers can be subject to allegations and these situations can be very upsetting for everyone concerned. What we do is set out a very robust approach to safe care and we train our foster carers in how to think about safe care for everyone in the household. We talk regularly with foster carers about safe care arrangements and by setting out a sensible approach to the way in which children are cared for in your home, we know this minimises risks of false allegations.
We must listen to children whenever they say they have been hurt or harmed. What we aim to do is to reduce the risk of any situation be open to misinterpretation and seek to encourage building positive relationships with children. Where allegations do happen, we deal with these quickly and transparently, and foster carers are offered independent support.
Can I take the child on holiday?
Yes, we encourage foster carers to build a family life with children and for many children, this involves them going on holiday with the foster carer. Good planning is vital and if you're going abroad, there will be passport and birth parent consents to think about. The needs of the child, ensuring that holiday accommodation is going to be suitable and ensuring that everyone who needs to be consulted is, are key to making this a very positive experience for everyone.
Can I make day-to-day decisions about the child's life?
Together for Children will delegate some decision making to foster carers in respect of the child they are caring for. The extent of this will depend on a number of factors, including how long they have been with you, their legal status and the relationship. Delegated authority matters will be discussed and clearly set out in writing and will be reviewed as required.