Finding support from other foster parents

The first foster placement for a newly trained carer is invariably a daunting and challenging task.

Taking a step into the unknown and inviting a child into your home who will normally be dealing with a range of overwhelming feelings requires support and help.

All foster carers, whether new to caring or not receive close support and help from us at Jay Fostering, as we put carer well-being as a top priority.

However, another very effective tier of support for carers that should not be overlooked is the support they give each other.

Peer support and mentoring in foster caring is invaluable; hearing directly from another person who has experienced (and overcome) the same challenges can help to make difficult situations seem manageable.

Fostering requires a wide range of talents, from managing the mundane and the everyday (dealing with schools, bedtimes, pocket money and routines), to coping with the fears and worries that foster children invariably have.

Challenging behaviour or dealing with a child in distress can be overwhelming for even the most experienced adult to deal with on their own.

Friends and family who are not carers might be able to sympathise, but they rarely have the insight required to help because they have not experienced fostering first hand.

This is why a fostering mentor is such an invaluable resource for carers, someone who knows your situation because they have been there themselves.

Having this kind of expert help can make all the difference to carers and foster children and ensure that the placement is a success.

If you are considering becoming a foster carer and would like to work with Jay Fostering, an organisation that values experience, insight and mentoring its carers, simply contact us on 0116 277 0066

First steps to fostering

Becoming a foster carer is a major life decision and not one that anyone enters into without serious consideration and care.

At first the process of becoming a foster carer might seem complex and daunting, but at Jay Fostering we support all prospective carers throughout.

Once you’ve first made contact a carer recruitment officer will get in touch and explain more about the fostering role with Jay Fostering and assess your eligibility.

The next step will be an initial home visit from a social worker who will come to your home and discuss fostering with you in greater depth.

At this stage it will be important to see whether you have a spare room that is suitable to be used as a child’s bedroom so this is something that should be prepared in advance.

Following the visit, you will need to submit a formal application and then you will be visited over a period of weeks by a fostering assessor and there is a mandatory disclosure and barring check.

The assessment stage includes a three day ‘skills to foster course’. Following this there is a selection panel that candidates attend to find out if they have been selected as carers.

This might seem like a rigorous and lengthy process but it is designed to make sure that carers make informed decisions and won’t be overwhelmed by the challenges of fostering.

Above all, throughout the process you must be able to show that you can offer a secure, stable and supportive home to a young person facing difficulties in their life.

If you feel that you can offer an environment to a young person that reassures, nurtures and offers commitment and stability, then you probably have many of the attributes required of a foster carer.

If you are considering becoming a foster carer and would like to work with Jay Fostering, an organisation that values experience, insight and mentoring its carers, simply contact us on 0116 277 0066

Fostering Siblings

Often when children and young people are placed into foster care they have brothers and sisters. Some siblings stay with the birth family, but others can be fostered together and at Jay Fostering we frequently require foster carers who are able to offer sibling groups a secure and loving environment.

Fostering multiple children at once can enable brothers and sisters to stay together at a time of immense emotional disruption in their lives.

Some of the only stability they might have in their lives when they enter foster care can come from each other.

However, this can present foster carers with additional challenges in providing the young people in their care with a stable and secure home environment.

Having several young people to cater for can put a carer’s organisation and time management skills to the test.

It can also be a pressure on the space in your home, so having enough room, time, resources and patience to adequately provide for multiple children is essential.

At Jay Fostering we look to recruit carers who already have experience of parenting and it follows that parents who have raised several children will be well placed to cater for sibling groups.

We also make sure that with every foster placement that carers are supported and given all the help, advice and assistance they need to make the placement a success.

Sibling groups, just like individual children, might well exhibit challenging behaviour during a foster placement.

Children struggling to deal with unmanageable feelings and complex emotions can present an individual or a collective challenge to the carer.

However, a stable, supportive and loving environment where adults can see beyond the behaviour and understand the child can often help them make considerable progress.

Helping siblings to stay together and help each other can be one of the most rewarding aspects of foster care.

If you are considering becoming a foster parent and would like to work with Jay Fostering , an organisation that values experience, insight and mentoring its carers, simply contact us on 01162770066

Specialist Fostering

Foster care can be necessary for children and young people for a range of reasons, but there are some foster placements that are the result of abuse and neglect.

The most traumatised, damaged and distressed children need carers with specialist skills in order to help them firstly navigate the challenges of foster care itself and secondly deal with the results of abuse and neglect.

Other children who are already in the foster care system and who have had traumatic experiences might have found it hard to fit in a number of foster families.

Where foster care continues to break down and the young person is left without a family who can look after them, a specialist foster carer might be called upon to offer a place. Children who have experienced abuse or neglect or who’s families have been devastated by a bereavement can present specific challenges to the people looking after them.

This means that the carer often needs as much support as the foster placement, and at Jay Fostering we provide this through skilled professionals who work with our foster carers and their families.

At Jay Fostering, we carefully match the needs of foster placements to the skills and experiences of foster carers to avoid carers being overwhelmed. Specialist foster care is caring at its most challenging, but it is also caring at its most rewarding.

Children who have experienced abuse in their formative years or who have been abandoned by their biological parents are desperately in need of adults in their lives that they can trust.

To be able to offer a young person the type of stability, reliability and emotional security that they have lacked in their family home is a rare commodity.

However, the patience and care that you can put into a vulnerable young person will be rewarded by the knowledge that you will have made a significant difference to their life.

If you are considering becoming a foster carer and would like to work with Jay Fostering, an organisation that values experience, insight and mentoring its carers, simply contact us on 0116 277 0066

Statement from Ian Anderson, Jay Fostering Chief Executive

There have been a number of debates in the press recently regarding cash incentives or other inducements being offered by a small number of independent fostering providers and some Local Authorities to ‘poach’ foster carers who are already registered with either an Independent Provider or a Local Authority.

Just for the record, at Jay Fostering we never have and never will offer cash incentives to poach foster carers. There are currently over 93,000 looked after children in the United Kingdom of whom 55,400 are with foster families registered with either a Local Authority or an Independent Fostering Provider. Fostering Network, an established charity in the sector, noted in January 2016 there was a national shortfall of 9,070 foster carers.Fostering services, whether they be independent or public sector, should focus on encouraging new families to come forward to fill the shortage that Fostering Network has identified; poaching from each other is not the way nor is it ethical. Any provider, irrespective of being independent or public sector should abide by a professional ‘no poaching’ code, and, if this is not practicable then we would support the Government taking a stance to outlaw this.

Foster Carers have the right to be registered with whichever Agency or Service they choose and base that choice on the support and training they receive from their selected provider. There is little or no comparable and validated evidence in terms of cost differentials between independent and public provision, but there is evidence of a difference in the service levels to carer households and also the regulatory outcomes of all providers that are a matter of public record.The continual public outbursts between organisations about who should be able to do ‘what and how’ are becoming extremely tiresome. Children’s services is a highly regulated service and one that is continually in the public eye and my suggestion to all those battling it out in the media today is that it would be better if they focused their efforts and attention on the vulnerable children and young people that we are here to support and forget their personal profiles.

Fostering is a major undertaking for anyone and the best carers have the skills and support to make a real difference in the lives of vulnerable young people. If you are considering becoming a foster carer and would like to work with Jay Fostering, an organisation that values experience, insight and mentoring its carers, simply contact us on 0116 277 0066

Parent and Child Fostering

Jay Fostering’s Parent and Child foster placements provide a cost effective option to support the needs of what can often be a challenging situation. The services use our specialist foster carers who have the skills, experience and commitment to accommodate parent/s and children in a supportive home setting.

These placements offer some distinct advantages over residential placements including consistent support in a family environment, the opportunity for parents to maintain significant links with their local networks, vital for transitions to independent parenting, and continuity of care for the child if the outcome is separation from the parent.

Our specialist carers provide practical parenting skills and support within the boundaries of a family home, enabling emotional support, stability and guidance to parents. Carers selected for these types of placements are rewarded with an enhanced support package including 24-hour telephone support, weekly supervision visits, specialist training and development, and access to professional support groups.

The development of a range of services enables Jay Fostering to be more responsive to particular needs and situations while offering our Local Authority customers and parents more choice. Jay Fostering have a number of experienced, trained carers who have shown special aptitude and skills in this area and are able to offer a range of Parent and Child placements including:

Pre-Birth Placements

These placements provide a secure and stable base enabling young people to prepare for the birth of their child whilst also learning parenting and independent living skills and understanding their own and their baby’s needs.

Parent and Child Arrangement

Specialist placements with high supervision and recording contributing to the parenting assessment completed by the Local Authority in a supported family environment.

Learning Fostering Skills

As a society, we are used to the idea that there are expert doctors, dentists, teachers or lawyers. It is less common for foster carers to be seen as experts in their field, but many have years of knowledge, experience and understanding in a vocation that presents all manner of challenges.

At Jay Fostering we often see new foster carers inevitably experience a learning curve when they accept their first foster placement and the most successful caring experiences are those based on training and knowledge.

It goes without saying that most carers new to fostering bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience from their family lives and careers, but in caring there is always something new to learn.

At Jay Fostering we provide a comprehensive training package to all new foster carers who work with us.

In a society that is constantly changing (along with the young people in it), no fostering organisation can afford for its members not to constantly add to their skills and knowledge.

If you are a new applicant with us, you will be invited on to a three day Skills to Foster course, which will equip you with the latest child protection and child safety skills.

In addition to this you will begin to learn how to deal with challenging behaviour, equality and diversity issues from highly experienced carers and the best practices they have used.

At Jay Fostering we know that learning doesn’t simply take place on training courses and the most valuable learning you will do is with your foster placement, the children you care for will be your best teachers. However, to make sure you are fully supported, we offer ongoing professional development on a range of different skills and the opportunity to learn online.

Fostering is a major undertaking for anyone and the best carers have the skills and support to make a real difference in the lives of vulnerable young people. If you are considering becoming a foster carer and would like to work with Jay Fostering, an organisation that values experience, insight and mentoring its carers, simply contact us on 0116 277 0066

Tips for Successful Summer Days Out With Your Foster Child

Summer can be a great time to see new things and introduce your foster child to new activities. With so many school-free days to fill, it pays to have a few potential activities and day trips planned.

Scheduling a few trips in advance will not only give all of the family something to look forward to, but it can also help ensure that everyone gets to have some input, allow you to ensure things run smoothly, and to stretch out your budget too.

Here are our top tips for successful days out with your foster children this summer…

Things to do, places to see

Planning a few free, almost-free or added value trips will help you to pack more in – remember you don’t necessarily need to go far for things to feel like an adventure. If you have children of different ages to entertain, it can be difficult to cater to their different needs and interests. This can be tackled in two ways; firstly by planning a couple of different days out where the main event on each outing appeals more to a certain age group, so every child has ‘their’ day. Secondly, you can try and factor something for everyone into each day.

Many museums and galleries offer free entry and during summer months will run extra entertainment for children. Combine a trip to an exhibition with a picnic in a park and you have a low-cost day that is both indoors and out, and allows children to expend a little energy too!

It’s also worth checking out the English Heritage website – up to six children can enjoy free entry to their 400 sites when accompanied by one adult member, and annual membership starts at just £41 per year. Trips to many of these sites can be combined with a visit to the seaside too, which ticks the boxes for every age group.

As we’re not always guaranteed great weather here in the UK, it is worth noting that many cinemas and theatres offer reduced rates during the daytime. For further inspiration, try looking at your local free newspaper or area website to see what events are running locally. Often organisers can’t afford to advertise things very widely so local press is a good source of information for happenings that could otherwise go under the radar.

Tips for planning your day trips

You don’t need to stick rigidly to a schedule for things to go smoothly but a little time management goes a long way. Make sure you’ve double-checked opening times, factored in potential transport delays and accounted for (several) toilet breaks too; it’s always a disappointment to arrive at an attraction only to find it’s closed or you don’t have much time to explore. Save time on the day by prepping snacks, drinks and picnics the night before.

It’s natural to be anxious about safety and security on days out, for peace of mind, be prepared by talking through potential dangers with children. Chat about not talking to strangers or wandering off, arrange a meeting point in case you are separated for any reason, and ensure kids are armed with your mobile phone number in their pocket in case of emergencies. Pack a mini first aid kid in case of scrapes and falls. And as we’re in Britain, it’s best to plan for sun and rain when it comes to getting dressed – you may even want to pack an extra set of clothes.

Finally, when you’re out on the day remember to enjoy yourselves! Make travelling part of the fun, and bring books, magazines and travel games (plus snacks) to make long journeys pass quicker.

You may find things don’t quite go in the order you expect as children can become distracted or you might find something else of interest to do along the way, but just go with the flow. And when the time to leave is getting close, start a countdown so that everyone can adjust to the idea of the day ending and perhaps focus on something nice you’ll do together when you get back home.

Do you have any top tips for planning the ultimate day out or any activities you’d recommend? We’d love to hear about them. And if you need any further advice on taking your foster child on day trips, you can always give us a call on 0845 688 4899.

What happens before a child is placed with you

When you apply to become a foster carer you’ll receive plenty of information and help to prepare you for your role during pre-approval training, and before your first foster child placement. Your training will take you through what the placement process entails, who is involved in placing a child with you and how you will be supported throughout the placement.

The foster placement process

Even before you are considered for your first placement, you will have worked with your agency team and discussed what type of children you will be best able to provide care for. This will include details such as the age and gender of children you will care for, as well as other details like whether you will care for sibling groups.

When a child has been identified as potentially requiring a placement, carers who are the best fit will be considered. If you’re identified as a potential carer, the child’s supervising social worker will discuss the proposed details with you, ensuring you know of any risks associated with the child’s placement. If you are happy to go ahead with the placement, the next stage of planning is approval, which is a process that may involve the local authority, your fostering agency, the child’s school or education service and potentially the child’s parents/other parties who have previously cared for the child. In an ideal scenario, an introductory visit will be arranged for children who are old enough.

Factors for foster placement

Alongside considering the closeness of match between potential carers and the child, a number of other issues will be factored in to help select a suitable placement. Geographical closeness to a child’s home and potential contact with their parents or extended family will need to be considered and if the child has siblings, whether they are best placed together. For disabled children, any additional needs they may have will be noted and prioritised within the matching process. Continuity of care is also an important consideration factor in foster placement and where possible and appropriate, the potential placement will accommodate the child’s current education and healthcare arrangements.

The placement plan

Once a placement is agreed a plan will be put in place for the care of the child. This should happen before the child arrives at your home but can take place within 72 hours of their arrival in care. The plan will cover details such as the child’s accommodation, any concerns relating to the care of the child,

day-to-day arrangements for care and where responsibilities lie. This means you should know if and when you might need to seek permission to involve the child in certain activities and how that permission will be sought. There will also be an indication of the length of the placement and whether it is likely to be short term or longer term. In short, the placement plan will outline everything you need to know in order to provide supportive and nurturing care for the child, so it’s a very important part of the process.

Do you still have questions about the placement process? We know it can seem complicated at times, but the Jay Fostering team is on hand to answer any queries you may have, large or small. Call us on 0845 688 4899 and we’ll be happy to talk things through.

Fostering and the whole family

One of the pre-requisites for fostering with Jay Fostering is prior experience of raising children either as a parent or guardian. This means that most carers (though not all) who work with us already have families of their own.

This can be a source of immense stability and strength for both foster carers and the children they look after, especially when they are new to fostering. Fostering can also present a family with challenges as new children enter the family unit with needs and concerns of their own.

If you are parents with children of your own, you must prepare carefully before you begin your first fostering placement. Your own children will have many expectations both positive and negative about how the foster placement in their home will affect their lives.

At Jay Fostering we believe that it is important to fully explore these feelings with them, even if at first they seem to be unrealistic or overly anxious.

If you are fostering with a partner or spouse it is also important that you explore how each other is feeling both before and during the placement.

The young person who comes to live with you and your family might well have strong feelings of abandonment or have come from a home background without stability or routine.

By welcoming them into your home you are offering the opportunity of becoming part of the warmth and stability that has often been lacking in their lives.

A family environment can be one of the most important and nurturing experiences for a young person in foster care, but in order for the placement to be successful the family’s needs also have to be addressed.

At Jay Fostering we often see that communicating, especially when there might be challenging behaviour or unmanageable feelings from the young person in your care, your family will be able to handle whatever issues fostering presents.

If you are considering becoming a foster carer and would like to work with Jay Fostering, an organisation that values experience, insight and mentoring its carers, simply contact us on 0116 277 0066