What is foster care?
Each year, around 30,000 children and young people come into care across the UK. Sadly, many of these children will have experienced some form of trauma, such as abuse or neglect. Foster care gives them a stable, loving place to stay when it’s no longer safe to live at home.
Children may be in foster care for just a night or two, several months or years, or until they reach adulthood; the duration will depend on the child’s circumstances and their care plan.
At ISP, we work with some of the most vulnerable children, who often have more complex needs and require specialist care and therapeutic support to help them to move forward.
Short-term foster care
Caring for a child on a short-term basis, from a night or two and up to two years, and often required while care proceedings are ongoing.
Long-term foster care
Offering a more permanent home for a child in care, which often lasts until they reach independence.
Providing a home for a child who has been taken into care quickly due to an immediate threat to their safety or wellbeing.
Respite foster care
Supporting a foster family who may be experiencing difficulties or in need of a break, by providing temporary care for a child. This is often 1 or 2 nights but may be longer in some circumstances.
Children with a disability
Providing specialist care to a child with a disability; this could be a child with complex medical needs, such as tube fed, limited mobility, full self-care needs, or a child with low functioning autism.
Parent & child fostering
Providing vulnerable parents with the skills and knowledge they need to provide a safe and nurturing environment for their child and meeting their ever-changing needs.
TYPES OF FOSTERING
There are many different types of foster care placements that we offer at ISP, including;
What’s the role of a foster parent?
While every child’s journey into care is different, often foster homes are the first positive experience of family life for the children we care for.
Alongside typical parenting duties, the role of a foster parent is to:
- Make a child feel secure, loved and part of the family, so they develop a positive attachment with a trusting adult.
- Encourage and support excellent achievements in education.
- Provide children with positive and memorable experiences that promote personal growth and development, such as holidays, family days out and fun activities.
- Work closely with other professionals to ensure children receive all the support they need to grow and start to heal from their trauma. At ISP, we have a network of specialist support, including social workers, therapists, advisory teachers, fostering advisors and more.
- Attend ongoing training to develop the knowledge and skills required to provide the very best care to children.
- Complete daily logs to celebrate progress, capture behavioural patterns and help identify areas for additional support and training.
Teresa & Phil's story
Teresa and Phil started fostering with ISP over 6 years ago. Today, their foster son, Jordan, talks to them about their time together as a foster family...
What’s the difference between fostering and adoption?
When a child’s in foster care, the local authority and birth parents are legally responsible for them. This is often a temporary arrangement, but can also be on a long term basis.
Foster parents receive a weekly allowance to cover the cost of the child in their care while providing them with a professional fee for their hard work and dedication. Foster parents may need to seek permission for various decisions, such as haircuts and holidays, and will often need to coordinate contact with birth family.
Adoption is permanent and the adoptive parent has full legal responsibility for the child.
The fostering journey
The process may not be as difficult as you think – we’ll aim to complete your fostering assessment within 4-6 months, but we’ll always move at a pace that’s right for you.
We have over 30 years’ experience in training and developing therapeutic foster parents.Read More
ISP foster parents typically receive a £26,000 fostering allowance per year for each child, most of which is tax-free.Read More
Who can apply to become a foster parent?
We welcome individuals from all walks of life to join our team of foster parents. You can be:
- Male or female;
- Single, married, divorced, co-habiting;
- Straight, gay, bisexual or transgender;
- From any ethnic group or religion;
- Any age over 21 – so long as you’re fit and healthy, and able to meet the needs of a child in care.
Of course, you’ll need to meet the initial criteria to foster, which are that you’re over 21 years old, have the legal right to work in the UK and have a spare bedroom that’s always available for a child in care.
How do I apply to be a foster parent?
Here are the steps you’ll need to take to apply to become an ISP foster carer:
- Take your first step – simply complete our online enquiry form or give us a call on 0800 0857 989.
- Initial call – we’ll give you a call, so you can learn more about fostering, the children we work with and the wrap around support we provide to our foster parents, plus answer any of your questions. If you’re ready to move forward, we’ll ask you a few questions and arrange a home visit.
- Home visit – one of our team will visit you at home, where we’ll spend more time getting to know you and vice versa. The visits tend to last between 1-2 hours and are a fantastic opportunity for you to find out everything you need to know to decide whether fostering is right for you. These can also be completed virtually via a video call.
- Apply to foster – you’ll need to complete an application form to be considered to become a foster parent. If successful, you’ll be allocated an independent assessing social worker, who start your fostering assessment. The application form can be completed online or via a hard copy that we can send to you.
Once your application has been approved, you’ll start your fostering assessment which generally takes around 4-6 months to complete.
How long do fostering placements last?
Foster care placements may be needed in an emergency for a night or two, or can be several weeks, months or years, or until the child turns eighteen - it completely depends on the child’s care plan.
Foster carers can choose which kind of placement type would suit them best – for example short-term (up to 2 years), long-term (more than 2 years), respite fostering (short breaks) and more.
Can a foster child share a bedroom?
No, it’s a regulation in the UK that every child in the foster home that’s over the age of 3 should have their own bedroom – this includes looked-after children and young people.
There may be some scenarios where the local authority may agree to place young siblings together and have them share a bedroom if it means they can remain together in foster care, however, these are special circumstances.
What kind of support can I expect?
With over 30 years’ experience of working with children and young people with complex needs, we understand the level of support that foster carers need to make an extraordinary difference.
Just some of the ‘wrap-around’ services that come as standard, include:
- Regular supervision – all of our foster parents and children have a regular monthly meeting with their dedicated social worker.
- Professional back up – a large team of professionals on-hand to support you, including therapists, social workers, counsellors and educational expertise. You won’t always need it but it’s there for you to access, whenever you do.
- 24/7 support - our helpline is open 24/7 all year round, including weekends and bank holidays.
- Training and development - we support your development as a person and a foster parent with an on-going programme of training throughout the year.
- Events and activities, all year around - we work hard to bring everyone together for regular events at local centres, and we hold family activities all year round.
- Online resources – an online portal – iSpace – which is a database of key resources including telephone numbers and our Foster Carer Handbook which is full of useful information.
- 22 nights respite – when you need time to relax and recharge, we’ll arrange for the child in your care to be looked after by another trusted family.
- Fostering Network membership - this brings you many useful and practical benefits, including insurance, legal protection, medical and stress advice helplines, as well as a Foster Care Magazine and members’ only events and offers.
You’ll feel that you and the child are at the centre and that there’s a strong support structure all around you at every stage of your fostering journey, helping you get the best for the children and young people in your care.