If you’re considering becoming a foster carer this year, the process of applying is far more straightforward and inclusive than you might think. The most important, and time consuming, stage of the process is deciding if fostering is right for you. It is a big decision!
There are a few common myths which dissuade many from even taking the first step to find out more. Misconceptions such as thinking you can’t foster if you’re single, gay or if you don’t own your own home. Don’t rule yourself out; if you would like to foster but maybe have a concern that you will not be able to call us, our Carer Engagement Officer, Nicky is happy to have an informal chat with you and discuss any concerns or queries you have. There is no such thing as a bad question! If you’re between 21 and 70 and have a spare room then you can usually be considered for fostering.
If you fall in to that category then you need to decide if you have the requisite skills and personality to be a successful foster carer. Traits like patience, the ability to listen and a great sense of humour are essential as are communication skills, consistency and energy. Fostered children and young people are looking for someone who can offer them love, safety, security and support. You do not need to be a super hero just a normal person who is willing to give love to a child when they need it most.
There are many different types of fostering that people choose; all come with challenges and rewards; the more people learn about fostering the more they realise which type of fostering they and their family would be most suited to.
It might be emergency and short term placements which could be taken at short notice, while longer-term plans are being considered. Or you could be needed to offer a break to the family of a child with disabilities, or part-time care to children with complex needs so they and their family can have a break.
You might be able to offer short term care, which lasts up to two years while the family courts make decisions about what the best long term plan is for the child. The hope is that they will be able return home to their birth families but sometimes this is not possible and they will move into long-term fostering placements which allow children to stay in a family where they can feel secure, often while maintaining contact with their birth family. There is a particular need for these types of foster care for teenagers and sibling groups. The young people often stay with their foster family into adulthood and beyond and become a permanent member of the family.
It is estimated that this year over 1050 more foster carers need to be recruited in the North West. There is a shortage of family homes for these children and you could make a huge difference.
If you decide you’d like to be a foster carer there is a thorough process to complete before being approved.
This process begins by speaking with Nicky our Carer Engagement officer who can answer any initial questions you may have and she will want to learn more about your motivation to foster. We will organise for a member of our team to visit you at home so you can get to know more about Alpha Plus and so they can see the bedroom you are planning to use and get to know you better. This is a two way process, when you decide to foster with Alpha Plus we want to you feel confident that you are applying to the best possible agency for you. So ask lots of questions!
After these initial conversations, you will be invited to make an application. This is followed by a three day pre-approval training course called ‘Skills to Foster’; statutory checks such as a medical with your own GP and a DBS check will be undertaken. You will then be visited on a few occasions by a social worker who will assess your suitability to be a Foster Carer and compile a report. This report, called a Form F, will then be submitted to a fostering panel which will make a recommendation as to your suitability to become a Foster Carer. The agency decision maker should then be able to approve you as a Foster Carer.
If successful, you will then be waiting to have your first child or young person placed with you – and that’s when the journey and the fun really begins!
If you’re ready to take the next step and discover more, enquire today.