Be prepared for fostering
There are probably many questions you'll have and here we've put together the top 5 questions that prospective Foster Carers ask when we first meet with them.
We answer these questions to help you on your way in reaching your decision about whether fostering is right for you and provide you with the channels to take the first steps on your fostering journey.
#1 How long will it take for me to be registered and be able to foster children?
As a new fostering applicant there are a number of factors which can affect the process, but the most common issue is the statutory checks that have to be completed including the DBS, medical assessment and references. We will strive to have these completed as quickly as we can and on average it will be 12-16 weeks before you are approved with Channels & Choices. If you are thinking of transferring to us having access to your original assessment paired with our highly skilled assessors can drastically reduce the timescale.
#2 What’s your Ofsted rating?
Only 30% of Local Authorities are judged as good or above by Ofsted. Channels & Choices is judged as Outstanding overall which puts us in the top 15% of the UK. Every service will have an Ofsted report which should be made available to you and this details the judgements as well as what the service does well and not so well. The gradings are: Inadequate, requires improvement to be good, Good, Outstanding.
What I Wish I Knew Before Fostering
#3 How will I get paid if I don’t have a child in placement?
Foster carers tell us this is one of their biggest worries and we have heard of carers spending their life savings through these periods whilst waiting for children to be placed with them. Channels & Choices is the only fostering service, to our knowledge, that guarantees foster carers work and pay at any time that they may not have a child living with them. Although it is rare for our carers to have availability we do this through offering work within our outstanding children’s homes. Not only does this remove the financial stress for foster carers but it also allows them to learn alongside our skilled residential teams and build relationships with the amazing children we work with. Many of the children will move through to our fostering families as part of our award winning ‘stepping stone’ program.
#4 What support do children receive?
It is sad to hear that an ADHD assessment from via CAMHS (The local Authorities mental health service) currently takes 2 years and that fostering placements are breaking down as a result of children not having school placements.
This isn’t the case at Channels & Choices, we can commission expert services such as an ADHD assessment immediately with our inhouse Psychologist and we can offer instant school (primary & secondary) placements from our in-house school.
As a small fostering company we ensure that each child has a well thought out care plan that is specific to them. We have high aspirations for all children we care for and we encourage them to help shape the service going forward through regular forums and opportunities for them to tell us what is good and what could be better for them. For all children placed with our foster carers we provide unrivalled support from our fostering Social Workers, instant and regular therapy services, access to our school and a great variety of activities and events to help them widen their community and network. All of these factors ensure placement stability and consistency of care which is a great foundation for them being able to reach their full potential.
#5 What support do Foster Carers receive?
We believe that you will not find the level of support that we provide, anywhere else and we strive to have fantastic relationships with all of our Foster Carers. Our highly trained Social Work team all have small caseloads so that they can provide the highest level of support to our foster carers and this formed a strong part of our Outstanding judgment by Ofsted. Our unique POD system ensures that our foster carers have regular forums with our management team, social work team, therapy team, and other foster carers in order to help share experiences and identify strategies for working with children in our care.
We also encourage our foster carers to help shape the future of the fostering service as well as increasing their community and support network through a range of opportunities. The less formal opportunities include regular family activities such as a summer fayre, our famous firework display and the annual panto trip to the Marlowe Theatre to name a few. The more formal opportunities include bespoke training from Professor David Shemmings OBE as well as access to our Advanced Skilled Foster Care Diploma equipping both new and experienced foster carers with new skills and career development.
What I Wish I Knew Before Fostering
Researching fostering and choosing the right agency can be the first MAJOR hurdle. You need to be confident they will provide you with the best training and support.
I hope this helps you become more confident when you talk to fostering agencies as you will know exactly what to ask.
Sarah Belsham – Senior fostering administrator
Compare 3 fostering agencies with these 10 best practice check points.