How much do I get paid to foster?

When you become part of the Blue Sky team you will not only receive a friendly, supportive and professional service. You will also benefit from an allowance up to £588 per week depending on the type of placement and your fostering experience plus 14 days paid holiday (respite) a year (21 days for TLC foster carers).

What are the essential requirements of becoming a foster carer?

You need to demonstrate that you genuinely like children and young people, be open minded to the types of children and young people that need support and looking after and can remain resilient when things get tough. You need to have one spare bedroom. You need to have a strong local support network. You need to put fostering first and be available for daytime meetings and for when the child or young person needs you.

How long does it take to become a foster carer?

The whole process will usually take approximately 6 months, during that time we will appoint a social worker, who will assess your suitability to be a foster carer. You will complete a portfolio of your skills and attend a number of information sessions and a two day ‘Skills to Foster’ course. We will also take up references, carry out a number of background checks and ask you to complete a medical form with your GP. When all this has been completed you will be invited to attend and meet a Panel of advisors where your application will be presented.

Can I continue to work and be a foster carer?

The agency prefers where possible; for the primary carer to be at home and ready to fulfil the needs of the child should they be out of school or ill and to attend important meetings that will take place concerning the child’s welfare. However, we are realistic in appreciating that an income will need to be earned to support the family in between foster placement. If the main person providing the care can be at home or work from home that is ideal.

Who can be a foster carer?

We welcome applications from people who are married, living together, single or divorced, from all backgrounds and ethnicities and from all walks of life.

I Practice A Religion, Can I Foster?

Yes you can! In fact, we are always looking for foster carers from different backgrounds, cultures and religions so we have the most opportunity to match young people with the foster carers best suited to them and their cultural and religious needs.

What support can I expect?

When you become an approved foster carer you will be allocated a supervising social worker who will meet with you once a fortnight to discuss how the child/young person is progressing. You will also be able to speak to a member of the team 7 days a week, 24 hours per day, 365 days a year. There are support meetings with other foster carers in your area.

What training and learning opportunities are available?

After completing your ‘Skills to Foster’ course and becoming an approved carer there will be planned learning opportunities available throughout the year, covering topics such as keeping children safe, managing behaviour, developing self-esteem in children and promoting good health.

What is the difference between fostering and adoption?

Although both involve the care of children and young people, they are quite different.  Whilst fostering is a temporary arrangement with the goal of the child or young person returning to their birth home, adoption is a permanent arrangement and your adopted child will have the same legal status as if they were your birth child.

On occasions, foster placements are classed as ‘long term’ and can mean you are responsible for their child or young person’s care until they reach the age of 21.

How does an agency differ from a local authority?

Blue Sky is a fostering agency. We recruit, train and support our own team of foster carers and we offer their foster homes to local authorities. 

Local authorities have their own team of foster carers but rely on independent agencies to offer additional support where need arises, especially where a child has additional needs or a sibling group needs to be kept together.

Why does a foster child have to have their own bedroom?

Of all the questions we’re asked, this has to be the most popular!

It’s fair to say almost all children and young people in need of a foster home will have suffered some type of abuse or neglect.  As a result, they may exhibit behavioural problems such as verbal aggression or anger issues. Part of making them feel safe is to give them their own space where they can be on their own, if they wish.

Additionally, and very importantly, if you have children of your own, they need their own space, too. If they’re sharing their parent, it isn’t fair to expect them to share their bedroom, too. No matter their age or what they may say to you, they need their own sanctuary.

I am single, can I foster?

Yes, most definitely! In fact, there are times when we are asked, specifically for a single female or single male foster carer. Some children and young people will have had a negative experience of females or males; they’ll feel safer with you. 20% of our foster carers are single (both male and female).

What are the age restrictions of fostering?

Fostering isn’t about what age you are. Fostering is about offering a vulnerable child or young person a secure and reliable home. Fostering is about respecting young people, offering them sound advice, guidance and boundaries and enabling them to be themselves, achieve their goals and enjoy their lives. If you can meet this criteria and have a stable home life, we’d love to hear from you.

My children live at home, how will they be affected by fostering?

That’s quite a difficult question for us to answer. It depends on so many variables. There’s no doubt they will have to share their parent(s) with another young person which can be difficult, equally, it can be a hugely positive experience for your own child(ren) and lifelong friendships are formed. It just depends on the people involved. The assurance we can give you is that we always consider the needs and situation of every member of your household before we talk to you about a potential foster child. This is why we ask you to be very open and honest with us about yourselves and your home life. For example, if your child is having trouble at school or you are worried about them, we will be prepared to safeguard them from a potentially unsuitable placement. 

One of the biggest issues for foster carers own children is saying ‘goodbye’ to a foster child when they move on. We think that says a lot about their experience of being part of a fostering family.

Our foster carers own children made this short film explaining their experiences as a birth child who fosters.

How long does the assessment process take?

Ideally, four to six months, but, as we depend on the prompt co-operation from other agencies such as your local Education Department, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS),  Health Visitor and GP, as well as your personal reference providers. If they don’t respond quickly, time is wasted. If you have had previous relationships, we will need to chat with your former partner(s). If you have children, they will be part of the assessment process as will anyone close to you who will have a significant presence in your home, such as a parent, sibling or friend. This is a very time consuming part of the assessment but it is vitally important we make sure you, your family and foster children are safe and happy.

Whilst gaining references, we will visit you many times to write your ‘Form F’. This is a lengthy document describing your childhood, your relationships with parents and those around you, your work experience and, if you have children of your own, your parenting style. It is an extremely detailed document, covering virtually every aspect of your life. Many of our carers find this an interesting and enjoyable experience, but it does take time. It will be updated to reflect any changes to your personal circumstances occuring throughout your fostering career, such as your increased experience of foster caring, moving house or a new pet coming to live with you.

What will the foster children be like?

Where do we begin! From sibling groups to children with special needs, to teenagers; they’re all individuals!

If we have to generalise, we’d say they’re all a bit bewildered and anxious (this shows in many ways).  They’re unsure and they’re vulnerable.  Most will have experienced neglect in some form and some will have experienced some form of abuse.

The most important thing to say is that they are still just children. They just haven’t had the security, stability and care to enable them to thrive and achieve their goals; this is where you come in. You will be the person who gives them all those things and gives them back their childhood. Don’t worry, we’ll be there every step of the way to support you, offer you guidance, training and our time. Everyone in the Blue Sky office is there to give you their time, a listening ear and help. That’s our job.

I rent my home, can I foster?

Yes. All we ask is that you gain the written permission from your landlord. We will help you with this. The bottom line is to remember the value you will add to a young person’s life and you don’t need to own a house to do that!

We are a same sex couple, can we foster?

Yes, so please do! It really saddens us to think there are many fantastic people who think they can’t realise their dream to foster just because they are a same sex couple. Quite frankly, the foster children want nurture, support and security and that isn’t solely provided by a standard male and female partnership. Not by a long chalk!

Please, don’t waste time worrying about your personal set-up when you could give a child a future. 3% of our foster carers are same sex couples.

I can’t drive, can I foster?

Fostering is such an interesting and diverse career and we know that only you will know what it’s like to live with your foster child or young person day in, day out. Because of your specialist knowledge of them, we (and they) need you to attend routine planning meetings and so forth. Meetings are not always held near to your home and it is essential you can get them easily. In addition to this, there are times when children need to be transported to school, medical appointments, clubs and to have contact with their family. Again, the venues may not be easily accessible by public transport. For these reasons, we think it is important the main carer is able to drive and has access to a car. Talk with us about this if it raises issues for you.

Can foster carers have pets?

Yes! In fact, most of our foster carers have pets of some sort. Caring for pets tends to go hand in hand with the caring nature of foster carers. Once you’ve taken your first steps towards a career as a foster carer, we will begin the assessment process and your pets are an important part of this process.

Importantly, over and over again, we have seen the way children coming into care find it less daunting to make friends with your pets before they make friends with you! Your pets can be instrumental in helping a child or young person settle in your home.

How will you support me when I am fostering?

We understand that becoming a foster carer is a life changing experience for you and your family so as part of our team, we offer support in many ways. From your initial training, we move on to offer you bespoke training to support the children in your care. We offer a comprehensive out of hours service provided by our own, qualified, supervising social workers who will know about you and your foster child(ren). During office hours, everyone in your local Blue Sky team will  support and help you.

We all need help at some point, so, If you wish, during your assessment, we can ‘buddy’ you with one of our experienced foster carers living near to you. Your ‘buddy’ will support you and enable you to experience life as a foster carer. They will be there to answer any questions you may have and will remain your ‘buddy’ for as long as you wish – even after you become a fully- fledged foster carer! They will still be part of your local support network.

Every region has local Support Groups; a regular chance for you to get together with other Blue Sky foster carers living near you and there are lots of Blue Sky events arranged for you, for your family and for the children and young people in your care. You are never lonely when you foster with Blue Sky!

Do I have to pay tax and NI when I foster?

All foster carers are classed as ‘self-employed’ by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) department, so when you become a  foster carer, one of your first jobs will be to register yourself as being ‘self-employed’.

Once you’re registered, you are automatically registered for Class 2 National Insurance Contributions.

The HMRC holds regular ‘webinars’ to explain tax and NI contributions for foster carers, which are really popular and useful. They are easy to understand and will explain everything very clearly. You can sign up for as many webinars as you wish and there is a support service for any questions you may have.

What does my fostering allowance cover?

Your fostering allowance is actually two payments in one. One part is covers your foster child(ren)’s living expenses such as food, clothing, school uniform, school day trips, toiletries, entertainment costs, savings and so on. It should also cover expenses such as heating and lighting. Your Blue Sky social worker will explain this in more detail, but just to reassure you, you will receive a generous fee whilst fostering with Blue Sky.

I have a criminal record, does that mean I can’t foster?

Whilst there are a number of criminal offences which would exclude people from becoming foster carers, equally, there are a number which won’t. 

Everyone’s background and experience is different so we assess each applicant on their own merits. The most important thing is that you are completely honest and open with us at every stage of your assessment.

If you are concerned about this in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact us for confidential advice. We are not here to judge you, we are here to help you achieve your wish to foster children and young people, so please, get in touch.

What is a Form F?

When you begin the process to become a foster carer, you will be allocated an ‘assessing social worker’. This person is a fully qualified social worker, who, with your help and that of your family and friends, will write a lengthy document which will be all about you!

This document is called a Form F.

I’ll be giving up work to foster and worry I’ll feel isolated being at home.

We understand giving up a regular job is a big step, but please be reassured, you won’t feel isolated. Aside from your fostering role, you’ll have a network of other Blue Sky foster carers living nearby. Social events, informal gatherings, meetings and training will soon fill your life and you’ll be with people with the same fostering experiences as you. You won’t be lonely, or bored, we promise!

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