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What is Fostering?

Fostering is a way of providing a safe and stable family home for a child or young person who can’t live with their birth family.

Foster carers look after children on a day to day basis. This support can be on a full-time basis or a part time basis (respite) depending on the needs of the child.

Who can apply to become a Foster Carer?

At Evolve Fostering we welcome applicants from all backgrounds, nationalities, religious persuasions and ethnicities. It does not matter if you are single, married or in a relationship; straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual; a homeowner or renting. There is no age restriction, although you need to be reasonably fit and healthy. The three main criteria we have, are:

  • You need to have a spare room in your home

  • You need to be over 21 years of age

  • You need to have British Citizenship or leave to remain in the UK

What checks are carried out?

If you decide to apply to become a foster carer, we will undertake the following checks:

  • Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS formally CRB) checks on everyone in the household over the age of 18 will be completed
  • Checks with your local authority social work service
  • If you have children still in education, checks will be undertaken with their school
  • A check on your home and garden to ensure that it is a safe environment
  • A health assessment will be undertaken with your GP. Not all disabilities or medical conditions will prevent you from fostering so long as they are effectively managed
Will a criminal conviction prevent me from fostering?

A criminal conviction won’t always prevent you from being a foster carer it depends on the nature of the conviction and when it occurred but people with a history of sexual offences and/or cruelty to children or animals will not be considered. We carry out enhanced Disclosure & Barring checks as part of our application process. You must declare and discuss any convictions at the time of expressing an interest to become foster carers, failure to do so, irrespective of the offence, may have an impact upon your application.

How much is the fostering allowance?

The agency pays competitive rates (including holiday pay and bonuses), however, this is dependent upon the age of the child you are caring for, the type of placement and the child’s individual needs. The allowance includes a reward element (foster carer pay), a child maintenance allowance and an additional needs allowance for larger outgoings such as computers, holidays; birthdays etc. Children’s allowances will cover food and clothing; household bills; local travel and mileage; activities, treats, trips and presents; alongside the young person’s pocket money; personal allowances and savings.

Will I pay tax on my earnings?

Foster carers are classed as self-employed.

The agency provides foster carers with membership to “Foster Talk”, a national organisation, that includes information for foster carers on their self-employed status (i.e. tax advice). In addition, foster carers are able to access financial guidance from Evolve’s agency accountant at no cost.

See HMRC website, www.gov.uk/foster-carers/help-with-the-cost-of-fostering, for additional information.

How does an Independent Fostering Agency differ from a Local Authority?

Foster carers in the UK have the choice of registering to work with a Local Authority (LA) or with an independent fostering agency (IFA).

An IFA is separate from but works in partnership with local authorities to keep children safe.

There are several key differences between IFA and LA foster carers, they include:

  • The Age of Children – Children who need to be fostered by IFA’s are usually older than children fostered by LA’s, although this is not always the case. If you are only interested in fostering babies, it would probably be best to contact your local authority.

  • Fees and Allowances – The fees and allowances provided to IFA foster carers are generally higher than those provided to LA foster carers. If you have a child in your care full time, there is an expectation that one carer must be available on a full-time basis.

  • Levels of Support and Training – This will differ hugely between different LA’s and IFA’s. At Evolve, we offer support and advice 24/7. You will have a designated social worker who will guide and support you. You will receive regular training relevant to your role and supervision to support you with this. You will have the opportunity to attend regular meetings and support groups and receive peer support from other Evolve Carers.

Can I still work and be a Foster Carer?

Once you have a child or young person in placement, Evolve would expect that one foster carer in the household would be at home on a full-time basis. However, in some cases, it may be possible for you to continue working in some capacity. This should be discussed with one of our social workers as it will depend upon your individual circumstances.

How long does it take to become a foster carer?

Once we receive your enquiry a member of our team will make contact to take some details and answer any questions you have. A visit will be arranged for a fostering social worker to meet you in your home to discuss the process and the different types of fostering available. If appropriate you will be invited to attend the skills to foster training, once this is completed it usually takes up to 6 months for the assessment to be completed and presented to panel for their consideration. You will receive advice and support throughout the different stages of your fostering journey.

Can I foster even though I have my own children at home?

Yes, although we advise the need to consider the impact of fostering on your own children and whether they are of an age/understanding to manage the challenges of fostering. We will include your own children in our assessment and preparation process.

Foster children cannot share a room unless they are a young sibling group, and this has been agreed by the local authority.

Do I need to be able to drive to foster?

Yes, you will need to attend several meetings and transport children to school, activities and appointments. Often these are not in the local area therefore it would be very difficult to manage this without access to a car.

If I foster with someone else can I transfer to Evolve?

Yes, Evolve receives enquiries from carers who already foster and have had several carers transfer from the local authority or other independent agencies. If you have a young person in placement, we will liaise with your current agency or local authority to ensure this is as smooth as possible.

You will still need to have a full assessment, although this should be a much shorter process as you will already have experience of fostering. You will be able to continue to foster with your current agency or local authority whilst the assessment with Evolve is completed.

What is the function of the Fostering Panel?

The fostering panel is a group of independent people with relevant experience of children who have been involved with social care. They will consider your application and the fostering assessment. Your assessing social worker can provide you with further relevant information as to the role of panel.

Can I foster if I have pets?

Yes, however this will depend upon the temperament of the pet. Any pets you have that live in the home will be considered as part of your assessment and dogs will have their own risk assessment.