North Lincolnshire Council

Useful information about fostering

Information on fostering in North Lincolnshire is listed below.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions or issues you wish to discuss.

How old must I be?

Legally, any foster carer must be at least 21 years old. There is no legal upper age limit. Fostering can be a physically and emotionally demanding role so all applicants will have to demonstrate they are sufficiently fit and active enough to cope with the pressures of fostering a child.

What if I have suffered from ill health in the past, have a medical condition or disability?

None of these things would automatically prevent you from fostering. However, you will need to agree to us obtaining medical information from your GP. This will enable us to consider each case on an individual basis.

Do I have to be married?

Foster carers do not have to be married. They can be married, in a civil partnership, cohabiting or single. For couples, the important factor is the strength and stability of your relationship.

What if I am lesbian, gay or transgender?

An individual’s sexual orientation will not prevent you from fostering. You will be assessed on your ability to care for children.

Do I have to have a job?

Foster carers can be employed or unemployed but applicants would need to consider their availability to care for a child. We would expect carers of babies and pre school children to be available during the day.

Do I need to have children of my own?

No. Whilst many people do have their own children at home or grown up and living away, others do not and are still successful foster carers.

What if I have committed a criminal offence?

This really depends on the nature of the offence. Certain minor offences may not prevent you from becoming a foster carer. However, other offences including those against children, sex offences, domestic violence or violence generally will. It is vitally important that you inform us of any offences for which you have been cautioned or convicted.

When you apply to foster you will be required to agree to us contacting the Disclosure and Barring Service. We will undertake these checks on all household members aged 16 and above. We will also carry them out on extended family members who are likely to come into regular contact with foster children.

What kind of checks do you carry out on applicants?

We are legally obliged to carry out statutory checks. These include:

  • Disclosure and Barring Service (criminal offences)
  • Medical reports from GP of each applicant which are then considered by a medical adviser
  • Checks from current and previous local authorities where you have lived
  • Three personal references from people who have known you for longer than two years
  • Family member reference

We will also undertake the following checks:

  • Health Visiting Service
  • Previous partners (in discussion with applicant)
  • Employer’s reference
  • Interview with your children and any adult children

What is the process for approval?

  • At the end of the assessment, your worker completes a report outlining their recommendation for approval as a foster carer; you will also see the completed report and add your comments.
  • The report and your comments, together with all of the statutory checks, are presented to the Fostering Panel which you are invited to attend along with your assessing Social Worker.
  • The Foster Panel makes a recommendation to the Agency Decision Maker based on the assessment information and any questions asked of yourself and the assessing social worker.
  • The Agency Decision Maker considers all of the information and makes a final decision with respect to approval.
  • This decision is made within five days of the Agency Decision Maker receiving the minutes from the Fostering Panel.
  • You will then be informed verbally by the Assessing Social Worker and in writing.

How long does it take to become a Foster Carer?

  • After your initial enquiry we will telephone you within five working days to provide more information and arrange a visit within seven days if you wish to proceed.
  • You will then be invited to attend the next skills to foster course and complete an application form.
  • Your allocated social worker will undertake a thorough assessment of you and your family which takes up to eight visits – this will be completed within four months
  • The total timescales from application to approval should be within six months. However, if you are an existing foster carer within an agency or another local authority we will be able to ‘fast track’ your application.

Many applicants have existing skills which are transferable to fostering tasks. We will work with you to build upon those skills to support you to continue your development as a foster carer.

The reasons children come into our care are varied. Some of the children come from backgrounds where they have been neglected and their parents have not been able to meet their basic needs and some children have suffered abuse.

Social Workers and other professionals work hard to keep children with their parents or wider family. However if this is not possible, foster carers play a vital role in providing a safe and caring home for children.

If you are a foster carer, vulnerable children and young people will be coming into your home. For this reason you will be asked to go through a period of preparation and assessment. You will need to show that you have the skills required to care for other people’s children and that you understand how it feels for children to be separated from their own families.

As a foster carer you will need to:

  • be able to provide a good standard of care for other people’s children. This will involve promoting their health, education and leisure interests;
  • be able to listen and communicate with children in a way that is appropriate for their age and understanding;
  • be able to help the child keep in contact with their friends and family as appropriate;
  • be able to set appropriate boundaries and manage children’s behaviour without the use of physical punishment or other unreasonable behaviour;
  • ensure that the child is cared for in an environment where they are safe from harm and abuse;
  • work as part of a team with the child’s social worker, teacher and other professionals, including attending and contributing to meetings;
  • provide a stable home that can give the child warmth and the stability they need;
  • have a positive attitude to diversity and equality issues;
  • be committed to a programme of further training.

The skills to foster course is divided into eight areas of learning. The training includes group discussions, exercises, written materials and video clips.

Applicants meet existing foster carers and children in care during the sessions.

The training is over five days and is a mixture of evenings, weekends and weekdays. Applicants are expected to attend the full training sessions.

An additional session is run for children of potential applicants.

Allowance – you will receive a generous weekly allowance to cover fostering for a child. These payments do not affect any state benefits you may be receiving.

Training – a comprehensive package of training is delivered each year to foster carers. There is an expectation that foster carers complete a training support development (TSD) portfolio within the first year of approval and attend specific mandatory training courses.

Fostering social worker support – you will have your own allocated fostering social worker to support and guide you through your fostering role. As a minimum they will visit you monthly. They will also be available to you on a daily basis by telephone.

Bi-monthly foster carer meetings – the bi-monthly foster carer meetings provide an opportunity to meet with other foster carers, senior managers and hear guest speakers.

Foster Care Association – membership of a local Foster Care Association group who meet regularly for coffee, discussion and to share issues.

Annual Flamingo Land trip – each summer foster carers enjoy a social event with other carers and foster children at Flamingo Land.

Fun day – each summer foster carers and children enjoy a social day filled with fun events.

Annual panto – each year foster carers and their households are invited to join other carers at a local pantomime.

Sons and daughters of foster carers – sons and daughters of foster carers receive specific training during the Skills to Foster course. They also take part in the above social activities as well as having the opportunity to join “The Whacky Club” (a group specifically for children of foster carers).

Buddy scheme – support from experienced foster carers.

Foster carers coffee mornings – regular coffee mornings for foster carers and their families to get together and have a chat.

Weekly information updates – weekly updates to keep you in touch with what’s happening.

Fostering network – all foster carers are provided with a membership offering magazines, discounts and independent support.

In July 2012 the North Lincolnshire Council Fostering Services Team was inspected and judged as Outstanding by Ofsted. Some of Ofsted’s comments were:

  • Children and young people are at the centre of everything the service does
  • Foster carers are valued, and feel valued, as part of the team working with individual children and young people
  • The overwhelming majority of foster carers reported that they are treated as professionals and that they feel they are a core member of the team working to support children and young people

You can read the Ofsted report for the North Lincolnshire Council Fostering Team on the Ofsted website and see for yourself!