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FAQs from Prospective Foster Parents

There is a lot to think about when becoming a foster carer and there are always many questions that need answering before people make the decision to apply. So on this page we have compiled a list of the questions most often asked by applicants and you may well find the answer to your query amongst those listed below. But if you need any extra help, please don’t hesitate to ask your question on the form at the bottom of this page. We’ll call you back and go from there.

No you don’t. Archway Care foster carers come from a wide variety of work and educational backgrounds and with widely differing life experiences but the one thing they all have in common is a commitment to being a substitute parent. However, we are also aware that there’s a lot to learn about becoming and being a foster parent so we run a comprehensive six session preparation training programme as part of your assessment process which all applicants have to attend. We know too that fostering isn’t only about the adults in the home so we also offer a pre-fostering preparation session for all birth children aged between 6 and 18 years old as we understand that the introduction of a foster child will also have a significant impact on them as well. These programmes are not just about training; they are also an opportunity for you to find out whether or not fostering is right for you. You are not committed to becoming a foster carer with Archway Care just because you’ve agreed to come on our training programme so if, at any time, you decide you don’t want to go ahead we fully respect your decision.

Absolutely not. Whilst we do have married couples and partners as foster carers with Archway Care we also have single people, both with and without children of their own. All we ask is that couples are in an established relationship and been living together for at least two years.

You have to be at least 21 years old to apply to become a foster carer with Archway Care.

You don’t need to have had lots of, if any, experience of looking after children but you must have the desire and the energy to look after them as well as an awareness of what it entails. But if you do have children of your own living at home, we require that they must have all reached the stage where they can speak and express themselves verbally.

Not at all. Archway Care will consider applicants who live in nearly all forms of accommodation as long as they have a secure tenure and they have got their landlord’s approval.

No. You must have full Leave to Remain in the UK when you apply to become a foster carer.

This will depend on the nature of the offence and how long ago it was committed. You will be able to discuss this fully at your initial home visit.

Yes, each child and young person in the home, including any birth children, will need their own bedroom, though occasionally there can be exceptions to this such as fostered siblings of the same gender in a short term placement.

No, the process does not work like that. During the initial stages of your application your allocated assessing social worker will talk to you about the age group, gender, and number of children or young people you would be most suitable for. This will be discussed in greater detail if you choose to progress your application, but be assured you will never be asked to foster a child or young person who you do not wish to foster as this would not help them, or you.

What happens is that we are contacted by social workers working for local authorities all over the UK to ask us if we have a foster carer available who might be suitable for a particular child or young person who needs a foster placement. A structured process then follows during which we carefully review our available carers and whether they match the specific needs of the child or young person. If the situation allows, and in order to ensure the best possible outcome for the child or young person, this process can take several months. On the other hand, if the arrangement is being put in place by the local authority on an emergency basis it will be very quick, usually a matter of hours.

Yes it is. We ask our foster carers to put together a support network (whether family or trusted friends) to temporarily take over child care when the carer needs to attend appointments, meetings or training organised by Archway Care and also, for example, if the carer needs to visit the doctor or go to an appointment where it would be inappropriate to take children. Regular use of the same people offers continuity for the child or young person in foster care and also ensures they will be looked after in your absence in a supervised, safe and familiar environment. We will help you create your support network when we visit you.

Yes, foster carers with Archway Care receive a generous weekly allowance which reflects their dedication and commitment to what can sometimes be a challenging role. It is also important to note that foster carers are classed as self-employed for the purposes of tax and national insurance payments so must inform HMRC of their status.

Archway Care’s foster carers are entitled to 14 nights paid respite care each year to permit them time to take a holiday or just time away from the responsibilities of fostering children and young people.

Being a foster carer involves a greater time commitment than looking after birth children as, for example, you have to be available to attend meetings, take children to contact visits with their birth children, go to training sessions and always be available for school runs. The child or young person may also have a high level of need and have to have time out from school, which will require more of your time. Experience has therefore taught us that it is extremely difficult to hold down a regular job whilst being a foster parent so we would expect the main foster carer in the home not to have any other form of full time employment outside the home when children or young people are placed with them either on a short or long term basis. However your personal circumstances and various exceptions to this requirement will be discussed further during the assessment process.

To become a foster carer both you and your family members have to undergo a lengthy and thorough assessment during which you will be asked for a lot of personal information. This information and any other credentials we require to verify your identity and background will be held in confidential files at our offices and are subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act.

It usually takes up to eight months from initial enquiry to approval by Archway Care’s Fostering Panel though this can vary depending on individual circumstances.

Yes you can, but you will need to agree to smoke outside your house and out of sight of the child or young person in your care. This also applies to vaping. However, if you do smoke you will not be able to foster a child under the age of five years old.

Yes, although you can’t have more than two dogs in your home and all pets are subject to a risk assessment. All dogs also have to comply with the law which requires them to be microchipped and have their details registered with one of the authorised databases such as Petlog.

Yes, we will require you to do both school runs.

No, that’s not possible. Firstly because we view being a foster carer as a full time dedicated role, but also because foster children and young people often have challenges and issues which may mean they find it very difficult to be around other children.

It’s preferable, but if prospective foster carers are unable to drive they should be able to demonstrate that they have access to good transport links so that they can easily meet the child or young person’s needs, for example taking the child or young person to school, meetings, contact, activities etc.

This depends on the circumstances behind the placement. For example a child or young person taken into emergency care may well come with nothing at all, although very occasionally the local authority will provide an initial clothing grant.

Foster carers are responsible for doing this unless there are significant safety issues.

Yes they will, unless there are any significant safety issues.

We would like all children and young people to have a yearly holiday with their foster carers and as part of a foster family. Archway Care provides funds to cover this within our foster carers’ fostering allowance.

Some local authorities, via Archway Care, will support foster carers with travel expenses, others don’t.

Short term placements require 28 days notice and for long term placements we would like as much notice as possible, but not less than 28 days.

Archway Care will give you all the information you need plus ongoing support, guidance and training.

All children and young people in your care should be encouraged to take part in regular recreational activities as well as participating in family activities.

Fostering Services Regulations 2011 and 2013 states that foster carers can only look after a maximum of three unrelated children and young people. However exceptions may be made for sibling groups if foster carers have the physical space and skills.

Of course! There is no age limit when it comes to fostering but, as we do with every applicant, we will discuss all the implications with you as fostering can often be an emotionally and physically challenging role.