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Focus on foster care: emergency fostering

17.09.21

If you’re interested in becoming a foster carer, there are many different types of fostering to suit your individual circumstances.

Emergency foster care is when a child or children (siblings) need to be rehomed urgently for their own safety. It can be a devastating experience as their lives are turned upside down.

In this instance, foster carers need to be able to respond quickly and calmly to meet the child’s immediate needs and help them feel safe and secure under difficult conditions.

“The children were so young and came to us as an emergency. We never expected they would stay but they have and they are doing really well” – Jessica, foster carer

What is emergency foster care?

Babies, children or young people may require emergency foster care if it’s no longer possible for them to remain at home and they need to be taken to a safe and secure home environment.

A child may be taken into emergency care at any time of the day or night. They may arrive at the foster carer’s home with only the clothes – or nightclothes – they are wearing.

The priority is always to provide a safe and comfortable environment where the child can be cared for until the appropriate measures are taken and a longer-term foster home can be found.

“Fostering is more than just a job, it really is a way of life. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else now I have found this” – Kat and Simon, foster carers

Why do we need emergency foster care?

There can be a number of different reasons why children and young people are taken into emergency care. Sometimes it might be an unexpected bereavement, parental health problems or issues relating to addiction.

At other times, a birth parent may feel temporarily unable to cope. Whatever the situation, the child is likely to be traumatised by being suddenly removed from their birth family and they may show emotional distress and sometimes challenging behaviours.

We rely on our emergency foster carers to be able to respond calmly to the situation and do what it takes to help children to feel safe, welcome and secure in a friendly home environment.

It may take hours or days, or even months before a more permanent arrangement can be made and foster carers need to be flexible and able to adapt to whatever is needed to support the child or children.

In some cases, the child will be reunited with their parents whereas in others they will go forward for adoption or long-term foster care.

What does it take to be an emergency foster carer?

We look for particular types of people to become emergency foster carers, as your home will be the first place a child comes to after they’ve been removed from their normal environment.

  • Patience, compassion and understanding as well as the flexibility to respond to a challenging situation and remain calm during a time of upheaval for the child or children.
  • The ability to cope with foster children with additional needs – such as babies who are suffering from substance withdrawal and who need extra soothing or children with disabilities.
  • Room for everyone – you also need to have a spare room to foster a child and, generally, all foster children need a room of their own, even siblings. An emergency foster carer needs to have a bedroom set aside at all times.
  • The willingness and preparedness to be called upon 24 hours-a-day.

Of course, you won’t be doing this on your own but with the support of our specialist team, including your supervising social worker. You’ll be offered extensive, first class training to help you to manage different types of children and scenarios.

What training and support do emergency foster carers receive?

Our foster carers receive a generous package of pay and allowances, plus perks and benefits to help the household budget go further.

We offer free specialist training to give everyone the skills and confidence they need to support vulnerable young people. This begins with our foundation Skills to Foster programme and includes a whole range of specialist training courses, some of which are mandatory and some of which foster carers can opt to do.

All foster carers have regular contact with their supervising social worker and the support of their wider local team, including therapeutic care professionals, psychologists and more. Carer support groups add to the feeling that you’ve got a strong, supportive family at your back.

“I love and enjoy the work I do with the children placed in my care. Sometimes it can be challenging but mostly it is very rewarding. I get to train in a wide range of subjects, which has helped me understand my role as a foster carer, and helped me to care for my foster children to the best of my ability” – Jacquie, foster carer

How long will it take to be approved as an emergency foster carer?

It normally takes around four months to become approved as a foster carer because the process is very detailed and thorough.

However, with more than 8,000 children nationally waiting for foster carers, National Fostering Group has pioneered a way of getting certain people approved faster.

This fast-track process can take as little as two months in some cases. It isn’t about cutting corners, but using online and virtual platforms, prompt checks and more intensive meeting schedules to achieve faster approvals.

Read a foster carer’s experience

Marie and Carol’s foster carer took them in as an emergency placement when the girls were 10 and nine.

At first things were chaotic and the girls used to fight and swear and knew nothing personal hygiene. After their father died, the court decided the girls will remain with their foster carers long-term.

“My wife and I have genuinely grown to love them as our own. These girls have overcome so much and they’ll be a part of our lives long after they’ve become adults and left our care” – Marie and Carol’s foster carer

Want to become an emergency foster carer?

Being an emergency foster carer is rewarding and varied. If you’re interested in finding out more, contact your local team for an informal chat.

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