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How do you find out which fostering providers to approach?
As with anything in life, when it comes to becoming a foster carer, you should do your research. As a foster carer, you will need excellent support so you should look for local fostering providers who offer quality, 24 hour support. Smaller agencies are often better placed to offer quality, tailored support.
The Fostering Network have a tool on their website that allows you to search for local fostering providers. Moreover the internet is an excellent source of information. However, you need to know what you are looking for when deciding which fostering provider might best suit you and your individual needs.
I want to become a foster carer, shall I approach a fostering agency or the Local Authority?
Deciding who you want to foster with is a personal choice. The Local Authority prefer to place children with their in-house foster carers and will give them priority. Therefore you might get a greater choice of children. Increasingly, however, due to the shortage in foster carers, fostering agencies also receive a high number of requests.
The main difference between fostering agencies and Local Authorities is in the quality and level of support you will receive. In particular, smaller agencies such as Eastern Fostering Services will know you, your family and the children you foster very well. This means that when you need to call for help, you will speak to a team member who knows your situation – no need for lengthy explanations!
I have found some fostering providers – what now?
Fostering providers should offer you the chance to talk either over the phone or face to face.
Here is a quick suggestion of what you might ask them:
- What support do you offer carers?
At Eastern Fostering Services, we offer excellent fostering support to our carers. We have a team of Supervising social workers whose job it is to support you and your family. The team has a wealth of fostering knowledge and share a passion to make a difference in the lives of children. This support is available to our carers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Additionally, we recognise the importance of high quality training for foster carers. This helps carers grow in knowledge, develop new skills and consequently increase confidence and resilience. You can find out more about how we support our carers and what they think of us here.
- Can you tell me about your matching process?
At Eastern Fostering Services, we believe in bringing about positive change for children. This is very difficult to do if children are constantly being moved between carers. For those children who need stable, nurturing homes, it is vital to match carers and children with great care, diligence and wisdom.
Whilst we want to be able to offer a home to every child, we recognise that it is far more important to match children and carers well. We will never knowingly make a poor match and we will do all we can to get as much information as possible to allow for solid matching.
Our experienced team will listen to our carers and the children and do all that we can to ensure the success of fostering arrangements.
- How does the assessment process work?
The Fostering Assessment will be carried out by and Eastern Fostering Services assessor. They will build a relationship with you and visit you at your home. Their job is to produce a report called a Form F. This report gives information on your childhood, your adult life, your working life, your relationships, your experiences and your outlook on life. It will outline all the strengths you have that will mean you can foster with confidence. The Form F will be given to the fostering panel. They will then meet with you and ask you a few questions before you are approved.
Many people find the assessment process quite cathartic and view it as an opportunity to reflect on their life and recognise their own strengths and vulnerabilities so that they are as prepared as possible for the fostering experience and what it might require of them.
- What positive outcomes do you achieve for children?
Making a positive change to the lives of children is the whole raison d’etre for Eastern Fostering Services. There are of course many variables that affect the children and what outcomes are possible. However, we will always work hard and do all that we can possibly do to make sure our children are championed and advocated for. You can view our statement of purpose for more information.
- What training and development do you offer?
Eastern Fostering Services offer a range of training covering a variety of subjects. This training is aimed at building our carers’ knowledge and skillset, thus equipping them for the varied nature of fostering. Have a look here to see why we believe training is important and what our carers think of our training.
- Which children do you need carers for?
There are hundreds of children across Essex, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire who are in need of a stable, secure and loving home. We are looking for carers across the spectrum of these children. It is true to say that all children in need of foster carers have experienced loss of some kind and have difficult life experiences to overcome. If you want to talk to Eastern Fostering Services about fostering, please do contact us.