Frequently Asked Questions
Who can apply to become a foster carer with the Five Rivers Fostering Service?
To be considered as a foster carer you will :
Do I have to own my own home?
No, you can rent your home from a private landlord, council or housing association. But you will need their written permission to say that you can use the house to foster.
Do I have to have a partner?
No. Foster carers can be single or in a relationship.
What sort of checks would be carried out on me and my home?
As well as a DBS check (the Disclosure and Barring Service, previously known as CRB), we complete checks with Local Authority and the NSPCC. We obtain three personal references which will include a reference from someone in your extended family, adult children of the family who live away from home, employers, ex-partners (where applicable), and social media checks. We would also carry out a medical and financial assessment, and a health and safety check on your home. You will need to give your consent for all of these checks to be undertaken. Without it, we cannot proceed with your application.
I am intending to be the main foster carer. Do you need to carry out checks on my partner?
Even if you are the main carer, anyone sharing your home will have some involvement in, and influence on, the fostering task. So yes, we will need to carry out checks on your partner and we would expect you both to participate in the assessment process and training. We will also need to carry out checks on all adult members of the household.
Would previous criminal convictions prevent me from fostering?
Not necessarily; it would depend on the nature of the conviction and when it occurred. At an early stage, every applicant undergoes the ‘DBS’ mentioned above. This is a government database check to check your suitability to be able to work with vulnerable groups, so we would expect you to discuss any previous or current convictions with us as soon as possible. We will then decide whether or how it might affect your application to become a foster carer. This information would remain confidential at all times.
Can I choose which age group or gender I would prefer to foster?
You can state a preference; however, our procedure is to approve our foster carers to foster children and young people from the ages of 0-18 (or 5-18 if there is a smoker in the household). We identify a child/young person within that range who we believe you would be well suited to. We encourage you to be open-minded and willing to explore all ages and, preferably, genders as well. This means we can achieve the very best match between the individual needs of our children/young people, and the skills, experiences and home environment of our foster carers.
How much will I know about the child or young person before they are placed with me?
If we identify a suitable match between you and a child/young person, our Placement Officers will discuss their details with you and you can then decide whether you would like to be considered. To help you make an informed decision, we provide you with as much information about them and their background as possible, including any difficult behaviour and how to manage it.
Can I still work and be a foster carer?
Foster carers receive a fee while they have a placement and we require a carer to be available within the household to meet the child’s needs on a full-time basis. In some cases, it may still be possible to continue working but fostering must be your primary focus, and we expect you to be available to attend training, support groups, and children’s/young people’s meetings.
Will I receive training?
Certainly. You will complete a preparation training course called ‘Skills to Foster’ during your assessment, and once you have gained approval you will receive comprehensive on-going training and development.
What support will I receive?
You can call for help or assistance at any time, and this includes our out-of-hours, on-call service, staffed by our supervising social workers who are supported by a Duty Manager. You will also be supported by your supervising social worker who meets with you every month and is in regular contact with you by phone and email.
You will also be invited to our foster care support group meetings and will have membership of Foster Talk and the New Family Social (if applicable).
What sort of help would I get with a child who has special needs or a disability?
If a child has on-going medical needs, this will be explained to you before the placement is made and naturally you will receive all the assistance necessary. Our role is to support our foster carers and this may include providing specialist equipment or training.
How long is the assessment process, and if I’m approved when would I see my first placement?
The length of the assessment process is usually around four months, but can take up to six. Once you have been approved, our placement officers will be informed immediately and will start work on finding you a suitable placement. There’s no set timeframe from enquiry to your first placement, but typically once approved most of our carers have a child placed within six weeks.
What is the difference between fostering with an Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) and a local authority?
Independent Fostering Agencies (IFAs) are privately owned companies that provide a fostering service to local authorities. Local authorities recruit foster carers to care for children and young people, and hold legal responsibility for them. However, if they do not have an appropriate placement with one of their own foster carers, they will ask independent fostering agencies, such as Five Rivers, if they can offer a suitable foster home with one of their foster carers instead. As an IFA, we are registered and inspected by Ofsted.
Does Five Rivers place more challenging children and young people?
This can be the case, and if so you will find that Five Rivers provides you with a very high level of support. This includes 24/7 support, all year round. You also receive a professional fee as well as a generous fostering allowance to cover your costs. We also provide regular training and specialist support to enable you to meet the needs of the foster children and young people you look after.
What is the difference between the Five Rivers Fostering Service and other Independent Fostering Agencies?
Five Rivers is an Independent Fostering Agency that operates as a Social Enterprise. This means that any surplus we make is reinvested into the services we provide. In addition to fostering, we also offer Crisis Intervention, Residential Child Care, Assessment & Therapy, and Education services.
As a foster carer, what will I be paid?
Payments vary according to the type of placement, and we discuss the financial details with you when we first visit you at home. You’ll receive a professional fee for your services, as well as an allowance to cover the extra costs you will incur; for example, food, clothes, basic travel and household bills.
Will I be taxed on this income?
As foster carers are deemed to be self-employed for tax purposes, the amount of tax you may pay will depend on your personal circumstances. If you’re unsure, it’s a good idea to take professional advice and get the help of an accountant to deal with your tax return.
Each year, Five Rivers provides you with an annual statement of payments and expenses to assist with this.