What is the difference between fostering with an Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) or with a Local Authority?

Independent fostering agencies are private companies working in partnership with Local Authorities.

Local Authorities are ultimately responsible for the wellbeing of all children in public care. They need to find the best way of looking after these children to make sure that they receive the best possible standard of care however, wherever possible Local Authorities will always look to place a child within Borough, where it is safe to do so utilising the exceptional skills of Local Authority Foster Carers.

Who can apply to be a foster carer?

Anyone can apply to become a foster carer . We recruit foster carers who are single, married, co-habiting, divorced, gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual and heterosexual. NRS Foster Care Recruitment has carers from many different religions and a variety of ethnic groups.

There is however a basic criteria you will need to satisfy

  • Room to foster ie: you will require a spare bedroom
  • You will need to be over the age of 21
  • Fostering is a full time career

Would previous convictions prevent someone from fostering?

A criminal conviction would not preclude someone from fostering it would depend on the nature of the conviction, it is always best however to inform us of any convictions and we can therefore let you know immediately if you would be precluded.

What sort of checks are carried out on me and my home?

As part of the assessment we will conduct an initial home visit to fully prepare you for the process. Every member of the family over the age of 16 will have a DBS check carried out, the Foster Carer will also need to have a medical assessment and you would need to attend some basic training and development. The process takes approximately 8-10 weeks, but we will always be there to support you through the process and guide you.

If I am going to be the main foster carer, do you need to carry out checks on my partner?

We will carry out checks on all co-habiting and married couples. Both parties will need to be part of the assessment even though one of you will be the main carer.

Can a child I foster share a bedroom with one of my own children?

We can only support applications where the foster child has her/his own bedroom.

Can I still go out to work and be a foster carer?

You are still able to work for mainstream caring however you will need to think about your own career as a Foster Carer which offers many opportunities in training and development and personal growth. The child will be your responsibility and may require time to settle. If you work in an environment whereby there is flexibility then there shouldn’t be a problem however, we do see foster caring as a true work from home profession. If you are a specialist carer one person in the foster care household would need to be available full time.

Can I choose how long I want children and young people to stay with me?

The Social Worker assigned to you will discuss the various options available for fostering ie: short, long, emergency and respite care. You can then decide which would suit you best.

Can I choose which age group or sex I would prefer to foster?

The Social Worker will discuss with you which age groups your skills may be more suited to and you may wish to express an opinion on this, after the discussion with the Social Worker you will both reach a decision on which age group maybe best for you.

How much will I know about the child or young person before they are placed with me?

The Local Authority will discuss as much information on the child/children as they have available. You should be aware that sometimes there is limited information available to begin with however as the placement progresses your allocated social worker will provide more and more details.

Who is responsible for taking the children to school and to the doctor etc?

As part of the job role, the Foster Carer would be responsible for meeting the needs of the child/children. Foster children need to be made to feel part of your family.

Are we allowed to smack foster children?

The regulations that govern fostering state that no form of corporal punishment is permitted. This would include any form of smacking, slapping or shaking.

What sort of help would I get with a child who has special needs or a disability

All and any known special needs or disabilities of a child will be explained to you prior to accepting the child in your home. The Local Authority will provide you with as much support and assistance as you may require, including introductions to specialist services.

How much fee/allowance will I receive and how is this decided?

Your weekly allowance for each child fostered is intended to cover living costs such as food, clothes, basic travel and household bills. There is also a reward element for the foster carer in recognition of the demands of the fostering task.

Will I be taxed on my income?

In 2003 HMRC set up a tax scheme for Foster Carers to simplify the calculation of their taxable income by comparing a 'Qualifying Amount' to their total fostering income.

Individual and more general advice on foster carer tax relief is available from a number of sources including HMRC.

If I decide to apply, how long will I have to wait before I begin having placements?

The assessment process usually takes 10-12 weeks although this could take longer depending on the complexity of individuals. Once you have been approved, the Local Authority will look to offer you placements within a short period of time. There are of course no guarantees but if you have become approved there are many children needing foster homes.