Frequently Answered Questions
We understand how important it is that you get the information you need to help you decide whether you wish to become a foster carer, so we have created this page to answer your questions in more depth. If you are curious to learn even more our dedicated team are ready and waiting for your call.
General questions about Foster Caring
Foster care is an arrangement whereby a safe and supportive home is provided for a young person who is unable to remain with their own parents or guardians. The Local Authority in which the young person is from is responsible for fostering arrangements, including supporting and planning the young person’s care plan. The young person would have come into care either by a voluntary arrangement between the parents and the Local Authority, a court order or the police have needed to remove a young person because of immediate safety concerns.
Foster carers can be birth family members, although this is less common. Foster care can be a short or a long-term arrangement, depending on the risks associated with the young person returning home to their family. LiKa support all foster placements that may be needed for a young person.
Children from a range of backgrounds enter into foster care, from babies to 18-year-olds. The reasons for this are numerous and complex. There is no standard child you would expect to see in a foster placement, which is why we love our carers to be as diverse as the children we care for.
There are now arrangements that can be made to allow a young person to remain with you until they are 21 because some young people need longer periods of time with you to be nurtured, supported through education or to further develop their independence skills. This is called ‘Staying Put’.
A supervising social worker is allocated to each foster carer. They play a different role to the social worker who works with the young person. All foster carers have a supervising social worker who supports them by matching children to your care, training, advocating for your needs and ideas, supporting you at professional meetings and offering you regular supervision in your home where you get to offload, share experiences and discuss ideas to support the child.
As long as you are a carer you will always have a supervising social worker allocated to you.
There are numerous types of foster placements and as a carer you could be approved to care for most if you meet the criteria. What will suit your needs will be part of your fostering application and assessment.
Emergency – This is a placement with little or no warning. It is usually the same day or out of hours when it is difficult for social workers to fully understand the child’s situation. These placements normally last a few days to a few weeks.
Short-term – This can be from a few days or up to two years, depending on a child’s circumstances. When they are placed in foster care a minimum period of stay is normally given. However, plans are never certain, so many short-term placements can go on to become long-term, if everyone is in agreement.
Long-term foster care is when social workers have assessed that children are unable to return to their birth family. In these circumstances many younger children are placed for adoption. However, with older children a long-term and stable placement will be found. If the young person was already living with you and settled this could continue as a long-term arrangement.
Parent and child placements are set up when there are concerns about a parents ability to care for their baby. They can be of any age, male or female. Sometimes it involves young mums, who are deemed to be vulnerable and without support. Other times it may be a parent struggling with their own difficulty such as mental health or learning disabilities. If a mother is already assessed as unsafe, then the baby’s father may be offered an opportunity to have their abilities assessed. The outcome will be the baby remains with them and they move on, or the baby is removed from their care and placed for adoption. You help the social workers make this decision by reporting on the developments made whilst they live with you.
Respite fostering gives support to families if they need a short rest from their caring duties. Normally the family will be experiencing difficulties and stress and are in need of some rest. For many families this will be because their child has a significant disability.
Respite can also provide support for foster carers so they have time to recharge their batteries and remain on top of their game. This can be anything from an overnight stay to a fortnight’s holiday.
Remand fostering – is an alternative to custody if a young person is awaiting court proceedings. Being placed in the community with a supportive foster family is seen as a more positive way to provide a young person with an environment where they can rethink decisions they are making about their life and hopefully prevent further offending in the future.
Do not worry, there are not too many essentials. However, a few things that you will need to have;
You are over 21,
You have a spare room,
You are financially stable,
You do not have a criminal record that means you pose a risk to a child,
You have a good command of verbal and written English,
You are eligible to remain in the UK long term.
Even if you do not think you can meet all of these requirements, we would still love to hear from you as we still may be able to help you on your fostering journey.
Plan for about six months. This time includes the assessment, which highlights your strengths and areas to develop, as well as four full days of training. These are essential days you will need to attend before your assessment can be completed. Once you are approved, we will start to consider potential matches and get you off to a flying start.
All assessments go through an independent Panel in order to make sure we offer children high quality care. Panel members, who are made up of experienced social workers, an educational specialist, therapist, health practitioner and a young person who was brought up in care, will read and discuss your assessment. As part of this process they will meet you and the assessing social worker to ask questions. The Panel will then recommend the type of placements you can accept (age range, ability etc). Do not worry, they are a friendly bunch 🙂
Well it depends. Most of our carers work while being carers. However, if you were looking after a child under the age of five we would need you to be home full time. Finding the balance between the needs of the young person in your care and work can be difficult. As part of your application we would explore how you would be able to manage, which will include thinking about who your support network are. As a carer you will be expected to be available to attend meetings, training, support groups and to promote and support contact between a child and their family. It would not be ok if a child came to live with you and day care was a huge part of their life.
We want people to foster from all backgrounds. However, your health is important to us. Having a long-term health condition would not prevent you from fostering, but as part of the assessment you would need to have a medical examination. This is the same for any potential carer. We would need to see that your health would not be negatively impacted by becoming a carer and that a young person would not be significantly impacted by your health needs.
Good question, as they are very different. Adoption is a process which legally removes all rights and responsibilities from the child’s birth parents, and transfers them to adoptive parents. The child will take the surname of their adoptive family and lose all rights of inheritance of their birth parents. Children who are placed for adoption are generally below the age of seven. Unfortunately older children are not easy to place for adoption so are more likely to be placed for long term fostering. Contact with an adopted child’s birth family may be restricted to letter box communication or some infrequent face to face contact.
Fostering does not provide the same legal security for either the foster carers or the child. Parental responsibility may be shared between the birth parents and the Local Authority. You would have something called Delegated Authority. There will usually be some level of contact between the birth family and young person, which will be encouraged as long as it is safe. Social workers remain as part of any fostering arrangement for both the young person and foster carers, which is not always the case for adoption.
The allowance offered to you as a carer is up to £500 a week per child. This financial support covers both the expenses for the young person in your care as well as a fostering reward element, which is a thank you for your commitment.
You sure do. Once you are approved we offer to pay up to £500 to help get things ready, such as bedding, beds and other items that might be needed to become foster ready.
There are a few myths about how fostering allowances impact your benefits. However, they are generally not affected. Your fostering reward will not be included in calculating your benefits for Job Seekers Allowance, Housing and Council Tax Benefit, Disability Working Allowance and Working Family Tax Credit. Foster carers are approved rather than employed by LiKa and this status has a particular effect on means-tested benefits.
Foster children are not classed as dependant, which means you will not be able to claim Working Family Tax Credit while they are in your care.
If a child is eligible for Disability Living Allowance payments, it may be that their parents or previous carers are in receipt of this allowance. Therefore, it cannot be swapped instantly over to you. There is a process to follow, which can take some time.
The below link to HMRC has some helpful examples to see if your finances would be impacted by becoming a foster carer. Also, it explains what your exemptions are as well as what the tax free thresholds are. Click here.
You will. The government requires that you are registered as self-employed when you are a foster carer. Do not worry, this is something we can help you set up once you are approved to foster.
This should not be a problem. However, we would want to make sure that being a foster carer does not place you in any financial difficulties and that you are able to responsibly manage the fostering allowance paid to you.
Good question. When you are looking after children on behalf of the Local Authority they will delegate parental authority to you. You will have some decision making about the young person’s day to day life. However, this is significantly different to the total responsibility you would have with birth or adopted children. What you have consent for is negotiated and discussed in detail at the start of any new placement and reviewed regularly. For more information, click here.
That is a big yes! We have all different types of fostering families, but ensuring that you do not take on too much is important. If you are able to manage the needs of a young person and the expectations of being a foster carer for your young person being a single carer is fine.
We think this is one of the most important areas when it comes to setting up a fostering home. Matching you to a young person that fits your strengths is important. You are the crucial element of any matching and we will be guided by your thoughts and feelings on any potential placements we think might be perfect. You have your say from the beginning to the end of any placement.
Yes, you have to be at least 21 years of age for us to consider your application to foster. Keep us in mind on your 21st birthday.
We would love people of all ages to become foster carers. However, realistically this is not always practical. The upper age limit will depend on your ability to meet the needs in the fostering role. Your physical and mental health will be taken into consideration as well as your support network. Fostering can be demanding, so we would not want to put you at any risk by getting you in to a position where you felt overwhelmed.
The short answer is yes. The exception is babies who can usually share a room with you until 12 – 18 months. Legislation guides this, stating that it is important for a young person to have their own space to offer safety, relaxation and privacy. This may sound unrealistic in London. However, we only want what is best for our children.
If you have the space you can have more than one child, especially when there are large sibling groups who need placed together. However, fostering can be a challenging task, so we would need to take into consideration how much time, energy and support you have to assess your ability to meet the needs of more than one child in your care.
You would need to be in a relationship for at least two years. Offering a consistent and stable home to a young person is important and we feel it is best if you have had some time together before applying. Despite one of you potentially being the primary carer, we would need you to apply jointly as we would expect that you would be going on this exciting journey together. Mark us on your calendar and get in touch when ready.
Yes please. We accept all sexual orientations who want to apply to foster. This is not only something LiKa values, but is also protected by law.
Yes, but we would need you to talk openly and honestly about your record, we are aware that we all make mistakes, it’s what we learn from them that matters. However, some criminal histories, including offences against children or violent crimes, would mean that we would be unlikely to progress with your assessment. All potential carers have an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) police checks carried out as part of this process.
A large part of your role is to advocate for the young person in your care. Language is an important part of this and we would recommend that at least the primary carer is fluent in English and is competent reading and writing in English.
It is important that at least the primary carer is a British resident or has Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. We would not want your immigration status to impact on the continuity of care a young person was receiving.
You can. However, your new home would need to be part of your assessment. Ideally we would like you to be settled into your new home before applying to foster. A new fostering placement and moving into a home at the same time could be difficult to manage.
You can. However, if there are extensive renovations or improvements that will most likely not be completed by the time your assessment is finished, we would recommend you wait. We will need clear time scales for completion and confirmation that the work will be finalised before the assessment begins. We know that building works often run over!
We love foster families with pets. We also know that they are part of your family, and with this their needs will be considered as part of any assessment and matching to a young person. Some children cannot be placed with pets for numerous reasons, so you will need to bear this in mind because it could impact on how long it takes for LiKa to match you to a young person.
There are always ups and downs with relationships and this is what we prepare you for as part of your fostering journey. We up-skill you with training and support to be able to manage if there are difficult moments. We place a lot of emphasis on the match of the young person in your care to meet your skill level. Sometimes, it may be best for a child to move to another foster family. However, this is a very last resort and the decision is not be taken lightly. Every change in a young person’s life significantly impacts on their emotional resilience and ability to bounce back.
You can, but we would prefer you to be smoke free. LiKa expects all foster homes to be smoke free to protect the health of the child placed. If you are a smoker and would not be able to give up then we would need you to smoke outside. As a smoker, you would not be matched for baby placements, children with severe disabilities or health issues such as asthma.
We want carers of all faith backgrounds because it is important that children have the opportunity to be placed in families that have similar values and beliefs to their own. You will need to bear in mind how you will discuss alternative religious beliefs or sexuality with a child because it is important that differences are valued and respected.
Definitely not. There is no diagnosis that can automatically prevent you fostering and we welcome anyone with diverse mental health histories. As part of any application there will need to be a medical recommendation given by your doctor. It would need to explain if your doctor felt any mental health diagnosis might impact your ability to stay healthy while also looking after the needs of a young person.
Qualifications are not expected within your role as a foster carer. Your life skills and experience of the world are the most important factors influencing how we assess your strengths and areas to develop. As part of your role we will send you on lots of bespoke training throughout your fostering career, helping you work towards a recognised qualification if this is something you would like.
Yes, and we hope they do! We would want any child placed with you to experience being part of your family. That includes holidays. The decision to go on holiday with you is made by your social worker. However, there would need to be a significant reason to deny your young person this opportunity.
Questions about Training & Support
We offer a lot. Any foster carer will be expected to do training as part of their role. This is an area that LiKa prioritises and takes great pride in. We want you to be the best that you can be and to do that you need the best tools available. As part of the assessment process we offer three Skills to Foster days as well as an introductory day in Systemic Family Therapy ideas. This is your basic training.
Once you have been approved as a foster carer we then offer a range of training that focuses on everything from child development and systemic family therapy approaches to caring with young people who struggle with substance misuse. As a little extra, we use real actors to practice some of the skills you have learned. As they say, practice makes perfect. We aim to get you through 12 days of training in the first 12 months of your fostering journey, and 6 days every year after. Every foster carer is different as well as the children they look after, which is why we also create bespoke training that fits your needs and situation you are in.
Fostering is a rewarding role. However, there can also be challenges. During your family’s fostering career there may be some form of allegation or complaint made against you. This is not unusual when caring for children who have been traumatised. You will be supported by your Supervising Social Worker (SSW) through this process, but you should know that there is a balance that your SSW needs to hold between support and following a formal process. For more information click here.
The safety and wellbeing of the child is paramount, therefore any allegation made will be taken seriously and investigated appropriately. This does not mean that your SSW does not believe you or thinks you are abusive, rather they are holding the balance between supporting you and ensuring the child’s safety. Both can be done at the same time.
Your SSW will also signpost you to The Fostering Network, with whom you have complementary membership, who offer independent support and advice with respect to complaints and allegations. If an allegation is made, there is a referral made to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), which may also involve a referral to the police.
If allegations are substantiated then the foster carers would be de-registered via Panel. Any allegations would be recorded on their file and may result in an investigation involving the Police and Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO). The LADO is informed of all allegations against adults who work with children. If it is felt that the allegation is serious a strategy meeting with the LADO and police may be convened to put together a plan for the next steps. Outcomes may be that the carer needs to be interviewed by the Police under the term “interview under caution”. At this point we would advise them to seek legal representation for additional support during this process. During this time, LiKa will be able to emotionally support them. However, we will not be able to give specific advice because this could be a conflict of interests. This is why we advocate independent support through the Fostering Network. Once the Police have spoken with carers and the young person. A further strategy discussion may be convened with the LADO to advise the next steps.
If the allegation is substantiated allegation the Police may investigate the allegation formally. During this process the carers are kept well informed, including receipt of written documents outlining the investigation and recommendations.
All agencies will offer you training. However, the approach they take, what they focus on and how this is prioritised in their agency will differ. LiKa’s approach is based on Systemic Family Therapy ideas, which influences all the training that we offer. This means our training is grounded in creating more dynamic and stronger relationships between the foster carer and young person. LiKa also offers more training in your first 12 months than most other agencies.
The majority of training is for applicants and approved foster carers. However, we like to broaden this out. We also offer your children training designed to help them understand fostering and their role as part of the fostering household. This is a big step for you, but also your children. We will want to meet with them to not only see how they feel about being a part of your journey, but also how they will be part of it.
If you are a couple we expect both of you to attend the training offered. We would also love to see your support network, if they would like to see us. We open training to your backup carers, who are an important part of your support and we think it is helpful they are able to experience the same training you do so everyone is on the same page.
We would love it if you could. The Fostering Minimum Standards regulations outlines the minimum training that is expected from you to continually meet the requirements of being an approved foster carer. At LiKa we set the bar above the minimum that is asked of you because we want you to be brilliant. However, we are flexible in what we offer. Training is both half and full days, online and is offered on different days in the week, so you have plenty of flexibility.
This will happen, but it is ok. However, it is important to catch up. We have a running list of training days in multiple cohorts. You can pick up the days you have missed at another time in the year. We are here to make sure you succeed, so we will try our best to accommodate you.
That is ok. We all learn differently. Training days are interactive and experiential. You will always be given handouts, we may recommend reading that you might be interested in and offer you additional online learning to complement areas that you enjoy. These days are designed to both be educational as well as fun. It is also an opportunity to meet other carers. These training days are not formal. You do not need to study, sit exams or write extensively. It is more about your participation and listening to the ideas presented. Again, we want you attend as many possible, so we will support you however we can.
As part of you first year in fostering you need to complete something called the Training, Support and Development Standards or TSDS. This booklet is completed over the first 12 months in conjunction with your supervising social worker. The TSDS promotes seven standards of professionalism. The booklet asks you to evidence how you are meeting these principles and values that underpin the way you care for children. It is also evidence for the great things you are doing in your role and how you have done this to support the young person to meet their development needs. Once you have completed this, LiKa would love to support you with more specific learning that you might like to work towards. Maybe one of the diploma specific to your role as a foster carer?
We love to show our support and dedication to you in numerous way. We offer you regular and thorough supervision with one of our dual qualified social workers (this means they are qualified as social workers and systemic practitioners). Supervision is a space where you share ideas, and guidance is offered as well as linking your training to your day-to-day role as a foster carer.
- We also offer you 24 7 support over the phone. It does not matter what time of the day or night, there will always be one of our duty social workers at the other end of the phone. No matter how big or small, we can talk it through.
- Group supervision, which is every six weeks and facilitated by one of our family therapists. This is an appreciative and supportive space whereby you can speak about dilemmas, how to think creatively in caring the young person you are looking after as well as sharing ideas the other LiKa carers attending.
- Financial support that makes sure you are not out of pocket and not financially strained caring for a young person.
- Membership of the Fostering Network, which has several benefits including discounts on a range of products and insurances, legal advice as well as regular fostering updates.
Questions about Dealing with Concerns, Complaints & Allegations
They are very different, so it is always important to clarify what terms are being used.
Concern might be some negative feedback about a foster carer. This might come from anyone in the network, including the young person. This is not classified as any abuse or neglectful behaviour. This might include the foster carer consistently being late for meetings, not adhering to tasks or talking negatively about the young person in their care. This might be a conversation between the supervising social worker and foster carer to clear this up and think of a new approach.
Complaint refers to an issue that a child, or someone on behalf of a child has made about a process within the agency. This would be dealt with through LiKa’s separate complaints policy process. This is a more formal process and may involve it being recorded in writing, a meeting and the people involved in what has been raised. A complaint could include a professional who is unhappy with a placement terminated by the foster carer or how the foster carer spoke to a professional or birth family. A complaint does not represent abuse from a carer. However, there may be care standards raised as part of this process, which may need to be worked through and a plan developed to support a different approach.
Allegation refers to an issue that a child or a person on behalf of a child has about the behaviour of any employee, director, foster carer, volunteer, or anyone undertaking work on behalf of LiKa Family Fostering. Any allegation that is made will be managed through our allegation management process. These ‘behaviours’ may include:
- Behaving in a way that has, or may have, harmed a child;
- Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child; or
- Behaved towards a child in a way that indicates he or she is unsuitable to work with children; and
- Using sexually inappropriate words or making any sexual advances towards a child.
Fostering is a rewarding role. However, there can also be challenges. During your family’s fostering career there may be some form of allegation or complaint made against you. This is not unusual when caring for children who have been traumatised. You will be supported by your SSW through this process, but you should know that there is a tension that your SSW needs to hold between support and following a formal process. For more information click here.
The safety and wellbeing of the child is paramount, therefore any allegation made will be taken seriously and investigated appropriately. This does not mean that your SSW does not believe you or thinks you are abusive, rather they are holding the tension between supporting you and ensuring the child’s safety. Both can be done at the same time.
Your SSW will also signpost you to The Fostering Network, with whom you have complementary membership, who offer independent support and advice in respect of complaints and allegations.
If an allegation is made, there is a referral made to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), which may also involve a referral to the police.
If allegations are substantiated then the foster carers would be de-registered via Panel. Any allegations would be recorded on their file and may result in an investigation involving the Police and Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO). The LADO is informed of all allegations against adults who work with children. If it is felt that the allegation is serious a strategy meeting with the LADO and police may be convened to put together a plan for the next steps. Outcomes may be that the carer needs to be interviewed by the Police under the term “interview under caution”. At this point wee would advise them to seek legal representation for additional support during this process. During this time, LiKa will be able to emotionally support them. However, we will not be able to give specific advice because this could be a conflict of interests. This is why we advocate independent support through the Fostering Network. Once the Police have spoken with carers and the young person. A further strategy discussion may be convened with the LADO to advise the next steps.
If the allegation is substantiated allegation the Police may investigate the allegation formally. During this process the carers are kept well informed, including receipt of written documents outlining the investigation and recommendations.
Not necessarily. However, the outcome of any investigation from an allegation will influence how your fostering career progresses. Should the allegations be substantiated, this would impact whether children would be placed with you again. LiKa’s Fostering Panel would be reconvened to hear about the allegation and your supervising social worker would submit a report outlining what had been alleged, outcomes and a recommendation. Panel will decide whether you continue at all as a foster carer, continue with new conditions to your approval or that you are deregistered. Deregistration would mean that you would no longer be able to foster with LiKa and may significantly impact on whether you are able to foster with any other agency.
This depends on the allegation, type of abuse alleged and who was involved. If the young person will be free from harm and remaining with you does not impede the investigation, they would remain with you. However, this decision will be made by some of the professionals involved in this process, such as the child’s social worker, LADO and the Police.
It is likely that once an allegation has been made any foster children in the household are likely to be removed pending an investigation. An alternative may be that the person who has the allegation made against them moves away from the house until the investigation is completed.
As part of any investigation any other young person living in the fostering home, including your birth children, would also need to be considered as part of the safeguarding process. The Local Authority has a duty to ensure that all children are safe from harm. If it is felt that any other child may be at risk of harm or have suffered harm while in the home they would also be subject to the investigation and a plan to ensure their safety would need to be developed.
Safer caring is a big part of your role as a foster carer, protecting you and the young person in your care. Safer caring is a term we use in fostering to promote open, transparent and safe ways that people are looked after and cared for in a fostering household. You will have your own rules in your home, so it is about tweaking these and thinking how a foster child can make sense of them, follow them and have a say in how they would like to be cared for.
- Send you on training to skill up in this area and make sure you have a safe fostering household;
- We develop safer caring plans with you, which is a plan involving all aspects of looking after a young person, so that everyone is clear on the rules and expectations;
- You will keep daily records on events, times and activities in the fostering house. This is uploaded on to an electronic system daily; and
- We will promote safer caring conversations between you and your young person so that this is a typical part of their fostering journey.
Recording every day and having a clear safer caring policy will reduce any mistaken allegations. Bear in mind that sometimes children disclose abuse and accuse someone in their lives now, when they are in fact referring to another event that relates to a person in their past. Children need to be supported through this process carefully.
Questions about Transferring from Another Agency or Local Authority
Sometimes a change is needed from one fostering agency as your circumstances may have changed, you are not getting the support or training that you need, or perhaps you are moving house. There are a number of steps to take if you wish to transfer from one agency to another. However, there are clear guidelines for this, which all agencies must abide by. It is not uncommon for carers to want to change. However, you need to make sure that any move does not disrupt a young person already in your care. If you want to join LiKa from another agency we would know how we can meet your needs and what would you expect from LiKa?
Overall, the process is fairly straight forward. However, there are few points that would need to be followed. You would need to formally resign from your current agency. It should be able to provide you with the document / format it would need you to complete to make this happen. The agency then has 28 days to complete your resignation process and will need to inform you in writing that this has been received and processed. Once you have formally resigned, LiKa will be able to begin your assessment. You will be familiar with this process because you would have already have been through a similar procedure with your previous agency. References and background checks will need to be re-requested, including a detailed reference from the agency you are transferring from. If you do resign from your original agency and plan to move to LiKa it is a given that you will automatically be recommended for approval from LiKa or our Panel. For more information click here.
Your current fostering agency cannot prevent you from resigning. Legislation guides the freedom of movement of carers between agencies, highlighting that they should not be prevented from doing this, blocked or pressured to remain. It is good practice that the agency you have resigned from offers you an exit interview to discuss your time with the agency, how you found it and what may have led to you leaving.
The short answer is yes. LiKa will need to complete background and reference checks and a detailed report. All agencies complete their assessments following a structured format. However, all agencies will approach this differently. At LiKa, we use ideas based in a Systemic Family Therapy approach, so the way we work through this process with you might feel a little different.
It is definitely still possible. However, this may take a little more planning. It is important that the young person is not at a disadvantage by this move and that they are not impacted. This would need to be taken into account throughout the whole process. When informing your agency that you would like to change, the young person’s social worker and responsible Local Authority would also need to be informed. There would need to be a meeting with both agencies present, Local Authority and any other key professionals as part of any transfer plan. Timescales, responsibilities and working within a structured assessment plan would need to be discussed and actioned to ensure the continued care of the young person. There is a detailed and legislated plan for any foster caring wanting to leave one for another while looking after a young person. This would be discussed in depth with you if this was representative of your situation. We could talk to you over the phone before you make any decisions.