What is Fostering?
Fostering is a way of providing a stable family life for children and young people, who are unable to live with their parents at a point in time. This allows children the chance to thrive in a safe, secure, loving and caring home environment with foster carers.
Who can be a Foster Carer?
Almost anyone can be a foster carer, as long as they have love to give, the patience to work through difficulties and the dedication to invest lots of time and energy. Neither your age, ethnicity, marital status or disability, nor if you are LGBTQ+, play a part in determining whether you’re suitable. We need at least one foster carer within a household to be at home on a full-time basis and, have a spare bedroom for your foster child.
Once you decide to apply to foster with us, we will also be considering your personal and professional references, and, your health and wellbeing, any experience you may have caring for children, and that you have British Citizenship, or permanent leave to stay in the UK. We also carry out police and local authority checks on all applicants. All these subjects are covered more fully in the Application Process section.
What our Foster Carers say
“We have enjoyed being foster carers over the last few years to the two sisters who live with us. It is always a joy to see their bond growing as we encourage them to play together. Sometimes it can be challenging due to their differing needs, but it is always rewarding. It is thought that sibling relationships can be one of the most important that we can have in our lifetime, emotionally and socially. It is an honour to support them as they both grow to know one another and their wider family.”
– Clare (Amicus Foster Carer)
“I have been fostering with Amicus since they began. I never realised that I would get this amount of support from them whilst doing this rewarding job. So anyone who really wants to make a difference don’t think you can’t, because you can!
The ‘Amicus family are there for you.”
– Andy and Ben (Amicus Foster Carers)
Types of Foster Care
Children and young people come into care for a variety of reasons, and we offer a wide range of fostering placements to aim to meet their needs. We will ask you if there is a particular type of care you are interested in providing, and the assessment process will take this into account, so that your approval as a foster carer matches your skills, knowledge and experience.
Short term foster care is for children and young people whose care plan is uncertain. The child may be placed with you following removal from the family home due to concerns about the safety of the child, or perhaps the birth parents are temporarily unavailability due to illness, or a child may require somewhere to live following a breakdown with another foster carer or adopter.
Short term placements are very flexible, and could last from a few days or weeks, or sometimes a number of years. The child may return home to birth family, move to live with other family members who have been assessed, or move into a long term fostering or adoption placement. Short term fostering can be extremely varied, and Amicus will make sure you are equipped to manage any challenges that may arise.
A number of short term placements become long term arrangements. This can happen when there has been a good initial matching process, and the on-going hard work and commitment of the Amicus foster carers.
Long term foster care is for children and young people who will not be returning to birth family. Long term care requires a commitment from the foster carer to provide care for as long as is needed. This may be up to the age of 18 years, and even beyond under the new ‘staying put’ arrangement designed to help young people move on to independence when they are ready.
Unlike adoption, when in long term foster care, the children and young people remain in the care of the Local Authority and fostering regulations apply throughout the time they are living with you. As a long-term foster carer you will not be granted parental responsibility for the child you are caring for.
Sometimes a child requires a long-term placement and a match is identified at the outset. In other cases, a child may be placed as a short-term placement and the care plan then becomes long term. If both the child and the foster carer want the arrangement to become long term this will be considered by the child’s social worker in consultation with Amicus.
As a long-term foster carer you will get to see the young person in your care flourish into a young adult, the rewards gained from this are multiple. As their foster carer you will build a strong relationship with the young person as you guide them through their childhood and meet the challenges along the way.
As a foster carer, you could be offering specialist care to children with complex needs which can include a range of physical and developmental disabilities. Amicus offer a great deal of support to foster carers who offer a home to children with complex needs, and although this requires a huge commitment to time and training, can be a valuable, rewarding and enriching experience.
Amicus have a commitment to offering full and varied life experiences, setting challenges and providing nurture to all young people, of all abilities.
Short Break fostering is when you provide care for a child or young person over a short period of time, usually somewhere in between a weekend to a fortnight. This can be a ‘one off’ or sometimes a regular arrangement. These foster carers become extended family for the child, creating a feeling of safety and opportunities for new experiences. This also provides a break for the main carers.
Often the children and young people see their short break carers as extended members of their birth or foster family.
Parent and Child
Child and parent fostering is where you offer a home to both. The parent may be under 18 and will be a looked after child themselves. Sometimes they will be placed during the pregnancy, so you can help them prepare.
There are a number of reasons why a parent may require a placement. They may need additional support, help and advice, and your role will be to teach and support, so they can move to independence. Or there may be significant concerns about parenting capacity and assessments are being made about their capacity to provide care to their child. In this situation as a foster carer you will be contributing to the assessments, maintaining clear and concise recordings to provide to the social worker and Court.
Child and parent foster carers are provided with specialist training.
Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children
Many asylum-seeking young people have been separated from their families, either in their Homeland or during transit to the UK. As you can imagine, these children are often distressed and frightened as a result of the overwhelming experiences they have been through. Fostering young people who are seeking asylum does have its challenges but is also hugely rewarding as you start to see them settle into their new life in the UK. In some cases, the children will speak little or no English. As a foster carer specialising in asylum seeking fostering, you can help teach these children the skills they need to successfully build a new life and ways to overcome their traumatic past. We will work very close with you and provide specialist training to help you support children who are seeking asylum. We try to place children and young people with families where some of the culture or language may be known about the young person to be placed. However, this is not always possible, and we therefore want foster carers who are resourceful and will be able to help the young person to maintain their cultural needs.
The Application Process
Our assessment process enables Amicus to learn about you and your family, and together decide whether fostering with Amicus is for you. It is an extremely important process to ensure that all children and young people placed in foster care are safe, secure and can reach their full potential. In line with regulations, Amicus follow a two-stage process, which generally takes between 3 and 4 months.
Making an initial enquiry is easy and this can be done by filling out our online form, by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 01179555039.
Once we have received your enquiry a member of the team will call you to answer any questions you have and to discuss whether fostering is right for you and your family. We will talk about your reasons for considering fostering and ask you to share any previous experience working with or looking after young people, details about your home and the time you have to care for children.
Initial Home Visit
A social worker from the fostering team will visit you at home to discuss fostering in more detail, and answer any additional questions you have. They will complete a brief assessment with you and your partner (if applicable) in relation to your wish to foster. The visit will also give you the chance to share your, understanding, ability and motivation to meet the needs of Children Looked After. You will be able to discuss the fostering role and have the opportunity to highlight any experiences you have had that may strengthen your application to foster. We will ask about your family and support system and their feelings about fostering. Together, we will take the decision as to whether you think fostering is for you, and then we will progress to the next stage.
The Skills-to-Foster Preparation Training
You will be required to attend a two day course called Skills to Foster which is informative and fun. You will be invited to attend before the assessment begins or during the assessment. The facilitation of this course is managed by Amicus managers and social workers with additional support and input from approved foster carers and young people that have experienced the care system. The trainers will produce feedback which will be considered as part of your application.
Once the decision has been made to proceed, following the initial home visit, we will provide you with an application pack which includes: application form, application guidance, DBS on-line link, mentor information, giving you the opportunity to talk to an Amicus foster carer. During this stage, a number of checks will be undertaken which include: your local authority, probation, finance, employment – if applicable, and education, if you have a school age child. We will also complete personal references. You will be expected to undertake a health assessment with your doctor, which Amicus fund. We will need to complete a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check on you, your partner and any members of your household who are over 18, if applicable. Once all of the above checks and references have been returned successfully, you will progress to Stage 2 of the assessment.
You will now be allocated an assessing social worker, who will undertake a number of home visits with you and your family. This will give the you the opportunity to assess your support networks, accommodation and lifestyle, financial circumstances, income and expenditure, the reasons you wish to foster, and to reflect on your life experiences, and how they may influence your fostering career. The social worker will then produce an assessment report, which will be shared with you, for your approval, before it is presented to the Amicus Fostering Panel.
You will be invited to attend the Amicus Fostering Panel to meet with the panel members, where you will have the opportunity to ask them questions. They will consider your assessment and will then make a recommendation about your approval as a foster carer(s), the final decision is made by the agency decision maker. Your approval is valid for twelve months, after which will follow annual reviews.
Once you are approved as a foster carer, you will be allocated an Amicus supervising social worker, who will be on hand to help and support you throughout your fostering career.