Fostering provides a stable family life for children and young people, who can't live with their parents. This could be for one of many reasons including:
- a parent going into hospital
- a parent not coping because of substance misuse
- a parent not coping due to mental ill health
- a child being abused or neglected
Some children stay in foster care for only a few days or weeks until their families are able to care for them again. Sometimes it isn't possible for them to return home and alternative plans are made either through permanent fostering or adoption. Placing them with a foster carer allows children the chance to thrive in a safe, secure, loving and caring home environment.
We need foster carers who live in South Lanarkshire and surrounding areas to look after children of all ages who are from South Lanarkshire.
Foster carers work as part of a team with the child's social worker, birth parents and any other agencies involved in the child's care.
What we look for
We need carers over the age of 21 from all walks of life. Single applicants as well as couples and families are welcome. Couples do not need to be married or in a civil partnership but they must have lived together for a minimum of 2 years.
All potential foster carers need to value children and young people for who they are.
Children and young people will need their own room. It may be that siblings will want to share a room and this option is something we would want to explore on a case by case basis.
We will expect you to be of good health and fit to meet the day-to-day care needs of a young person placed with you.
There is good evidence that passive smoking can damage the health of children so we won't place a child under the age of five, a child with a disability which restricts their movement or a child who has a respiratory condition such as asthma with foster carers who smoke. If you do smoke we will encourage you to consider options to help you stop and ways you can minimise the impact of your smoking on the health of children.
Pets can be a benefit and bring enjoyment to a young person, however, part of the assessment will include suitability of any pets to be around children.
Fostering is a commitment for both parties, if you are applying as a couple it is important that both of you attend preparatory groups and are actively involved in the assessment process which will include statutory criminal record and reference checks.
Interim foster carers will care for children for a limited period of time, working with the social work team to either help the children return to their birth family, or to move on to a new family - either an adoptive family or permanent foster family.
Interim carers care for children at the point when they are unable to remain at home with their own families and need to be looked after and accommodated.
The expectation is that the children will stay with their foster carers until they can return home, or if this is not possible, until they move to either permanent foster carers or adopters, where they can remain until they reach adulthood.
Interim foster placements can last for a few days, weeks, months or even longer in some cases. Sometimes, if children have spent a long time with interim carers and are unable to return home, carers want to care for the child permanently.
The children range in ages from newborn babies upwards. Sometimes family groups of brothers and sisters need to be looked after and, if possible, it is preferable to try to keep sibling groups together.
Have you thought about fostering but worry that you would find it too difficult to 'let a child go'?
Permanent fostering is intended to provide young children with a 'forever family' where a decision has been made that they cannot return to their birth family.
Most children or young people are over the age of 8 and may be part of a sibling group. They will have experienced the loss of their birth family and have lived with interim carers for some time. They need carers who will accept them as part of their family, will help them feel secure, achieve their potential and accept that there may be ongoing contact with their birth family.
Permanent placements are carefully matched and, unlike adoption, the legal responsibilities for the child or young person will shared with the local authority and foster carers. This includes having an ability to sign consents and make key decisions in health and education in partnership with the social work department.
Most permanent carers are either adding to their existing family, have been interim carers to the child or young person or wish to care for children and young people whilst having the support of the team around the child.
If you decide you want to be assessed as a foster carer, a social worker from the Family Placement Team will visit you and your family home to assess both you and your family's suitability to foster.
The assessment will include looking at the skills and experience you already have as well as areas that may need further development and support.
A series of checks including health and social work and criminal records will be undertaken on you and the adults aged 16 and over in your home. You will also have the opportunity to provide references from people who know you well.
We aim to complete the assessment within six months. The assessment involves writing a report about you (called a Form F) which you will have the opportunity to read, and to contribute to, before your application is presented at the Fostering Panel.Your portfolio
During the assessment process you will be supported to prepare some statements of evidence of your skills and experience in response to statements relating to the fostering task. This will be incorporated into your assessment.
South Lanarkshire Council is a registered fostering agency. This means is that we must carry out various statutory checks on people who apply to be foster carers. These checks are repeated as your circumstances can change. These are the checks we must carry out regularly.PVG (Protection of Vulnerable Groups)
As a registered foster carer, you are required to be registered with Disclosure Scotland PVG Scheme and we will assist you with this. If you are an existing scheme member, we will undertake a check. If you have a criminal conviction, it does not necessarily mean that you can't care for other people's children, but it will mean that we will have to discuss your convictions with you. If you have any convictions, it would be best if you mentioned them to us when you begin the application process, so that we can advise you and this can be taken account of from the outset.
We will also carry out enhanced Disclosure Scotland checks on anyone else in your household over the age of 16.Medical reference
It is important that you are able to look after children on a day-to-day basis and for that reason we will require a health check. Existing medical conditions will not necessarily be a barrier to fostering, however, we would want to take account of these as part of the assessment. Your doctor will be asked to provide a medical report which is confidential and our medical advisor will inform us if there are any issues which we need to consider in relation to you becoming a foster carer. Please let us know at the beginning of the process if you have a history of medical problems.
This check is repeated every two years.Local authority check
We will check if you have had contact with social work agencies in the past and whether this is relevant to your application. This check is repeated every two years.Employment history and employer's reference
We will talk to you about your employment history since you left school. We may also ask for a written reference from your employer if you are working. If you are no longer working we may ask for a reference from a previous employer.Previous partners, older and adult children
If you have been married before or were in a long term relationship we may want to contact your former partner and any children of the relationship. We understand that this may feel intrusive. If you are worried about this, please talk to the social worker when he or she visits you at home to discuss your application.Personal references
We will need to take six references from people who know you (and your family). We will visit these referees to discuss your application. Two may be from relatives.
Following your Introduction to Fostering at our preparation course and the completion of your assessment, a report (Form F) will be written which will be shared with you.
The report will be presented to the Fostering Panel which you will be invited to attend.
The social worker who has been working with you during this time will also attend the Panel with you. The Panel's role is to discuss your application and hear from you how you have found the process following which they will make a recommendation to your suitability to foster.
It is the Agency Decision Maker who makes the final decision about your approval and he/she will inform you within 21 days of their decision.
Support and advice
Once approved, you will have a named supervising Social Worker whose job it is to support you and your family with the fostering task. You will receive a copy of our Carer's Handbook. This contains a wealth of information about the things you need to know about being a foster carer.
You will have a written agreement with us setting out the terms of your approval and the role and responsibilities of both you as a foster carer as well as those of the Fostering Service. This agreement will detail the number, age and sex of the children and young people that may be placed with you.
We keep copies of the written agreement and it will be subject to regular review.
You will meet with your supervising social worker on a regular basis, at least monthly and he/she will support you with your training and development needs. We have a well resourced training programme which is regularly reviewed to keep abreast of up-to-date information and knowledge. In addition there are opportunities to attend external conferences and we also invite prominent speakers and researchers to meet with our carers on occasion. New carers are expected to attend core training in their first year and any further training which is identified as part of their development plan. An SVQ Level 3 in Child Care may also be offered if you want to study for a qualification.
Foster carers have a generous respite allowance of up to 28 days per annum in recognition of the complexities of the fostering task.
Foster carers have the benefit of access to 24 hours support and advice if required through a dedicated out of hours service.
As an approved foster carer/short breaks carer you will receive a weekly maintenance allowance for each child in your care. The amount of the allowance is dictated by the age of the child.
- 0-4 - £139.33
- 5-10 - £158.72
- 11-15 - £197.56
- 16+ - £240.30
We operate a Payment for Skills Scheme, whereby foster carers receive a weekly fee in addition to an allowance for each child they care for. The Scheme recognises the skills and experiences of foster carers and their fee reflects this. There are 3 levels of skill fee; new carers will normally begin on level 1.
- Level 1 - £123.73
- Level 2 - £160.85
- Level 3 - £197.98
In addition to fees and allowances foster carers will also be able to claim for equipment they need for the fostering task and travelling expenses occurred whilst fostering.
Fuller details of all the financial supports will be outlined in more detail during your assessment.
Once you have decided you are interested you (and your partner) will attend preparation and training sessions where you will receive more information about fostering, with the opportunity to meet a current foster carer.
A preparation course will cover a range of topics including early childhood experiences and the needs of children who have been accommodated, the legal framework and the roles of others you will be working alongside once a child is placed with you. It will provide you with an opportunity to talk through any issues and concerns you may have and hear first hand from a foster carer about the reality of fostering.
This should help to prepare you to look after a child who has been looked after and accommodated and help you understand how this may differ from raising your own child.