Looking after a baby
Babies may enter the fostering service for a number of reasons and may be looked after until they are found an adoptive family or returned to their birth parents or a family member.
Babies placed in fostering may be very young and vulnerable, and you will need to be at home full time to keep them healthy and to meet all their needs. You will need to ensure you interact and play with them, provide a variety of experiences to stimulate all their senses and promote healthy physical growth. Many babies will require regular contact with the birth family, sometimes daily.
Case study: Victoria is a new baby that has been taken into care because her parents have drug and alcohol issues and are unable to take care of her. She will stay with a foster carer until the courts decide the best outcome for her. She may eventually move back to her parents, live with other family members or an adoptive family may be found.
Looking after a child under 11
These children may have come from traumatic environments and need your love, patience and support.
You will give them the support, encouragement and confidence to achieve in life. You should be actively involved in their schooling and provide a positive attitude not only for educational values but for the development of social skills too.
You will be responsible for creating happy memories by arranging outings to events, museums or the cinema, giving them the chance to learn about the world they live in, and develop interests and hobbies. Reading stories together and encouraging them to pick up books will also be enjoyable and build essential skills.
Case study: Yordanos is recently divorced and has now lost her job. She is finding it increasingly difficult to look after her 10 year old twins Nasih and Azzeza and is suffering from depression. She needs some time to organise herself and get back on her feet, so the children go to live with a local foster family. She meets up with her foster family three times a week until it is possible for the children to come home.
Looking after a child over 11
This is an exciting but can be a difficult age to be, and this will often be reflected in their behaviour. They may be confused or frustrated by their experiences and will need someone who will be patient and listen to them. You will need to be understanding of their problems and be able to communicate with them in a way they can relate to – while setting clear boundaries. You must be flexible and be able to handle unexpected situations.
This is an important time for their educational development and you must encourage and promote their studies and plans for further education. These are the years when young people start making decisions and developing the life skills that will shape their future. You need to be a strong and positive role model and a central figure in their growth, guiding them through the transition into adulthood.
Case study: Steven is 13 and doesn’t get on well with his new stepfather who can be physically abusive. It is decided that it would be best for him to leave the family home and live with a foster family. He enjoys his new family home and still sees his mother each week.
Asylum seeking young people
A large number of young people come to the UK as unaccompanied asylum seekers, separated from their families. We need to recruit more foster carers to offer them a caring home. These young people arrive in the UK scared, alone and with an uncertain future. Wherever they are from, they all need a home where they can feel safe, secure and supported. You would offer a stable environment to help them settle in a new country, allowing them to look forward to the future.
Case study: Jamal is 13 and has escaped a country at war. He has arrived in the UK with no family or belongings, and knows nobody in the UK. His fostering family give him a feeling of safety and support, enrol him in a local school and help him to settle in his new country and look positively toward the future.
Caring for a young person with complex needs, you will be required to provide a safe, stable and supportive environment. You will ideally have experience of working with teenagers and an understanding of challenging behaviour and the difficulties young people face. You will get an enhanced reward and ongoing training. You will have to be available full-time and you must not have any other person under 16 living in the household.
Carers will receive monthly clinical and group supervision and 24 hour specialist support as well as on-going training to meet children's needs. They will also benefit from enhanced allowances and retainer fees.
Case study: At 11 years old, Robert had a poor school attendance record and was already part of a street gang. Islington placed him with a male specialist foster carer who understood that Robert would find rules and boundaries difficult. His carer worked with professionals in helping to address his individual needs and it emerged that Robert was dyslexic. He is now attending an alternative education provision where he receives intensive support and is making steady improvement at home.
Supportive lodgings for 16+
Host carers offer young people aged 16-21 supported accommodation, helping them with their transition to adulthood. These young people cannot live with their own parents, but do not want the restrictions of foster care. You offer the young person their own room and lend a listening ear, teach them how to budget, shop and cook, helping them to become fully independent by the time they move on to their own place.
You will teach the young person life skills such as using the washing machine, ironing their clothes, and advise on who to go to sort out any worries about college or relationships. Carers will be invited to all of the training that foster carers attend.
Case study: Aiden is 16 years old and his mother has recently died. His father is not around and so he moves into a supported lodging placement where he has his own room and front door key. He continues with his education and the carer supports him with his plans for the future and helps him develop his life skills.
Family-based short breaks
Family based short breaks offer a regular overnight or weekend break at your home once a month or up to 26 days or more a year to a child or young person with disabilities. It gives the child an opportunity to meet new friends and have some fun while giving the family valuable time to relax and recharge their batteries.
The scheme provides care for children with a range of disabilities. Some may have a physical disability, sensory impairment, learning difficulties or autism. Additionally, we may have some children who have complex health needs.
Case study: 12 year old Abbey is physically disabled and in a wheelchair. Simon, her father, works long hours and is finding it difficult to look after her. To give both Simon and Abbey a break she goes to stay on a family-based short break one weekend a month. She enjoys the break and gets to experience new activities and play with the family dog. Simon gets to rest and have some time for himself.
What is the next step?
If you have any further questions please call the team on 020 7527 7933 or 0800 073 0428 or email us at email@example.com
We also recommend you attend one of our online information sessions to hear more about fostering. They are run on Facebook Live and you can post any questions to the team and foster carers presenting.
Details of the next sessions can be found on our how to apply page.