Finance and fostering – How we support our carers financially

For most carers, the desire to contribute to the life of a young person who need support, nurturing and understanding is their prime motivation.

Placing a child’s needs first and making the home a safe, caring space where they can be themselves is the most rewarding experience that foster caring can offer.

However, Jay Fostering also makes sure its carers are well paid for the work they do; for some families fostering makes both emotional and financial sense.

At Jay Fostering we provide guidance on what you will need to spend your allowance on to give your foster placement the best chance of a balanced life.

Because we not only value the foster child in your care, but we also value your time, expertise, patience and compassion, the allowance can help you with your own household finances.

The role of a foster carer doesn’t come with a salary, but it is still an important, full time job and the funding reflects the time and commitment carers give. In addition to the allowance, there are tax exemptions available for carers. The government has set a threshold for foster carers on lower incomes and many pay no income tax on their allowance.

Some carers with multiple placements might find their income is above the tax exemption, but this is normally the exception to the rule.

The government views foster carers as self-employed; this means that if you are liable for tax, you will have to complete a self-assessment form. It does not necessarily disqualify you from tax credits and other forms of benefits as these will be calculated alongside your annual income.

At Jay Fostering, we truly believe that fostering can work for both you and your foster placement and whilst it is personally rewarding in countless ways, it also pays financially too.

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 0845 688 4899

The Benefits of the Fostering Mentor

Fostering is, without question, one of the most challenging, rewarding and transforming things a person, couple or family can do.

At Jay Fostering, we understand that inviting a vulnerable and often neglected child or teenager into your home, learning to see the person behind the behaviour and making a real difference to their life isn’t something anyone enters into lightly.

Some of the most successful foster caring matches that have happened in recent years have been the product of intense support for the foster carers.

Most agencies involved in fostering agree that the higher the degree of support a carer can receive, the better the outcome will be for both carer and foster child.

If you are considering fostering, it is important to use an agency or service that will give you access to a fostering mentor.

Most mentors are foster carers or former carers themselves and they will understand exactly the challenges you face because they will have experienced them directly themselves.

Accessing support from a fostering mentor means having a person who will listen to you in a non judgemental way and allow you to discuss any difficulties you might have.

Often, having someone to listen is enough, but mentors can give practical advice based on many years of experience about what approaches work and what doesn’t.

The benefit of a mentor is often that they can see a situation with a fresh pair of eyes and put themselves in your shoes or the person you are caring for.

Often, if you are dealing with difficult or challenging behaviour, it is hard to take a step back and assess what is really going on. This is where a mentor is invaluable.

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 0845 688 4899

How to Help Your Foster Child at School

Unfortunately, a large proportion of children in foster care are still likely to experience problems in school.

The reasons for this are several; from a difficult home life to movement between different schools during key stages of childhood, foster children absolutely need extra support to help them achieve academic success.

After all, school is not just a place for children to receive an education. It is where children develop valuable social and behavioural skills, gain friends, take part in non-academic activities and events, and perhaps most importantly, have a structure and sense of purpose, which a foster child may lack in other areas of their life.

As a foster carer, there are many things that you can do to help your foster child get the most out of their school life and overcome the obstacles that they can face, simply by being a child in care.

Set up your foster child for success

Having a computer with a word processor and internet access, learning materials such as a dictionary, thesaurus and encyclopaedia, stationery, and a quiet place to work, are all fairly basic but invaluable resources that you can have in your home to help your foster child succeed at school. You should also ensure that your foster child has all of the items they need to work at school too, from notepads and pens to a full uniform that complies with their school’s policy.

Help them with homework

Having support at home is something that many foster children have severely lacked prior to being put into care. Spending time with them, not only to help them with completing homework on time but also reading, drawing, and watching educational television or browsing the internet, is crucial not only because it helps to enrich their school life, but also because it allows you to strengthen your bond with one another.

Keep an open communication between yourself and the school

It is the responsibility of the foster carer to keep the child’s school up to date on any significant changes or issues in the child’s life, so that the school can react or accommodate these appropriately. You should also attend open evenings and other school meetings that give you the opportunity to meet your foster child’s teachers in person, and enable you to stay informed of their progress or hear about any particular concerns that they have.

Allow and encourage them to go on trips and participate in activities

School trips and after-school activities or sports clubs are one of the highlights of school life for children, as they provide additional opportunities for them to bond with their school friends and broaden their individual horizons. Encourage your foster child to take part in these activities and ensure that you have the finances available for when these opportunities arise so that they don’t have to miss out.

Set clear expectations about their achievements and performance

All children need a structure and framework for their school life, but foster children can require this more than most. As a foster carer you should openly communicate with your foster child what you expect of them with regards to their homework completion, uniform, punctuality, attendance, and grades, and ensure that they are meeting your expectations by keeping in contact with their school if necessary.

Talk to your foster child about their long-term goals

Taking care of a foster child can mean you become very focused on the ‘here and now’, but like all other children, foster children need long-term goals. These can be forgotten or not even considered at all when children move between homes and schools, so take the time to chat with them about their future hopes and ambitions for their education, career and life in general.

Help them to make and keep friends

Although it’s easier for young people to keep in touch with their friends thanks to social media and mobile phones, friendships can still get lost along the way when a foster child moves schools. Being in foster care can also mean that a child is unfairly stigmatised, making it even more difficult for them to make friends in the first place. Allowing your child to play or spend time with friends outside of school, whether at home or elsewhere is an important factor in helping them to ‘fit in’ and have a school life that feels as normal and settled as possible.

If you’d like more help or advice about helping your foster child at school, you can contact us at Jay Fostering Tel: 0845 688 4899 or email – enquiries@jayfostering.com

Information for your first placement from some of our experienced foster carers

Your duties as a foster parent start as soon as a child walks through the door, so it is important that the child feels welcome and relaxed from day one. Each child brings their own challenges and rewards and provides a different experience of being a foster carer.
Both the child and the family will have to make adjustments, but these are adjustments worth making. A successful integration can lead to one of the most rewarding experiences a family can have, and quite possibly change a life of a child for the better.

Here are four ways which will help aid a smooth transition of your foster child into your home.

  1. Be approachable
    It is important you are friendly, so meet your foster child with a smile and positive body language so they know the door is always open. If your foster child is of a young age and proportionally smaller than you, kneel down to meet them at eye level when you are talking to them. This way, you won’t seem as so “scary” but more of an equal that they can learn to trust.
  2. Be Sensitive
    You may want to give your foster child a welcoming hug and show your affection, but some children may be sensitive to touch. After all, in their eyes you are still a stranger. Be aware of your child’s reactions but don’t overact or make a big deal about things. Trust will build slowly if you have created a warm and welcoming environment.
  3. Introduce routines and rules
    Routine will be influential in creating a sense of normality, so let them know how things operate in your house. Don’t be forceful, but try to be as clear as you can. Your child might have problems adjusting to your rules because of their past so always be understanding. Remember your child may be too afraid to ask questions so try to cover all angles. Keeps the house running close to normality so the atmosphere stays at a more relaxed level
  4. Be Patient
    The amount of time it takes for a child to adjust is completely unique; no two children will ever be the same. The child’s temperament and previous circumstances will play an influential role, and children who have had multiple caregivers may take longer to feel at home with you. The first weeks at a new home will be the most traumatic, and a difficult period for children to be able to retain all of the information they have been exposed to. Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself and ask your child what you can do to make them feel more comfortable.

Fostering can make a positive difference to young people’s lives that are unable to live with their birth family. Children are fostered for a variety of reasons, and in many cases fostering is a temporary solution while their own family is supported, to enable them to return home. Foster families provide support and make it possible for children to be in safe and secure environment.
Many looked after children have specific or complex needs. These can be physical difficulties, challenging behaviors or learning problems and foster carers can make very positive changes to the lives of these young people. Many foster carers cope with complex needs of children and ensure they do their best to support the child or young person.

Fact! ‘Fostering’ is a family of people who provide ongoing and professional support 24/7

You will have your own supervising social worker who will work closely with you and guide you through the fostering process, assist you with any subsequent placements you may have. Our dedicated team of Supervising Social Workers and Support Workers will also provide you with 24 hour support, 365 days of the year. Our training is comprehensive and delivered locally by our team of specialist trainers, and you will also have access to our network of carer support groups – a great peer support service. With the Jay Fostering you are never alone – you will be part of the wider team of professionals who work together to improve the life chances and quality of life of a foster child. We understand that many looked after children have complex needs which can be challenging for our foster carers, this is why we invest a great deal in ensuring you have the right support and training. Listed below is the support you will receive as a foster carer with Jay Fostering:

  • Supervising Social Worker: You will be allocated a SSW who is there to provide support whenever you need it, you will have regular visits and phone calls and they are there 24/7 for you to contact
  • Regional Management Team: Our Regional Managers and Team Managers are here to support your SSW and our foster carers in providing quality care for our children and young people
  • Buddy Scheme: Experienced foster carers responsible for mentoring and supporting our current foster carers
  • Support Groups: Peer to peer support held locally for you to discuss issues with local social workers and also other foster carers within your area
  • Support Service: For some fostering specialism’s we can provide additional professional support services to assist you, this can include the use of local support workers
  • Foster Talk: All our foster carers are members of Foster Talk, an independent organisation providing quality professional support to foster carers
  • Regional Trainers: Responsible for providing you with appropriate training to help you acquire the specific skills required to look after local children and young people.

What are the essential requirements of a successful foster carer?

Being a successful foster carer takes a lot of skill and effort. They will not only have to build strong relationships with their foster children, they will need to build relationships with their fostering agency as well as other professionals involved around the children.
Below are some necessary requirements of a successful foster carer:
Relationship with the agency and other professionals

  • A successful foster carer will be willing to work closely with the agency to fully understand the needs of the child and what is expected of them to ensure that the goals for the child are met.
  • A foster carer must be willing to participate with necessary training proposed by the agency. Fostering agencies are continually seeking ways to improve their methods, services and procedures to ensure that both the child and the foster carer receive the best support. A foster carer must have a strong understanding of childcare and the problems children may face; therefore it is important that a foster carer is up-to-date with these developments.
  • A foster carer must be flexible in their approach to childcare and apply all training in their care accordingly.
  • A foster carer must be able to admit that they need help and seek support from their agency or from their local authority when they need it.
  • A foster carer must be able to act on behalf of their foster children during school/college meetings etc.

What happens during a fostering assessment?

Whether you’re at the very start of your fostering journey and doing research before you make an initial enquiry, or whether you’re preparing to have an assessment soon, we understand that you may feel apprehensive about this step.

As you’d expect, the fostering assessment process involves an in-depth analysis, but it shouldn’t be intimidating or frightening. So, to help you feel more at ease when your own assessment approaches, today we’re going to outline how a foster care assessment works in a little more detail for you.
 
When will your Jay Fostering foster care assessment happen?

The foster care assessment is usually the third stage in an individual or couple’s foster care application journey. Following an initial enquiry, which may happen over the telephone or in person, you will receive a fostering pack full of information to help you decide if fostering could be a good fit for you. Next you will be visited by one of our team who till talk to you in more detail about fostering and how it might impact on your lifestyle, as well as answering any questions you may have about the process. If you decide to proceed, the next step is to complete a fostering application form. This will be followed by your fostering assessment.
 
What is the fostering assessment process?

Once we receive your form, we will allocate an assessor who will work with you and your family during the assessment process. They will visit you at your home on a number of occasions and work through your application with you, gathering information about your family life, your background and history and about current and previous relationships.

We will identify any previous experience you have of looking after children or providing care. Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks will be carried out to confirm whether you have any previous cautions or convictions. The questions you are asked will be probing, but are designed to find out how fostering might impact on you and your family, so it’s important to answer fully and honestly. Your assessor will always try and make you feel as relaxed as possible. You will also be asked to provide the names of referees as part of this process, and these people will be contacted in relation to your application.

This process will help your assessor put together what is known as a Form F in relation to your application. This will pull the collected information together and you will have the opportunity to review your Form F before it is passed to the Fostering Panel. You will meet with the Panel to discuss your application and find out whether they will be recommending that your application be progressed. This gives you the opportunity to discuss with them your experiences, circumstances and other details outlined in the form.
 
Want to learn more about the assessment?

Hopefully this post has helped you feel a little more relaxed about the fostering process as a whole and about any approaching assessment meetings you may have.  If you’re unsure whether you could be suitable for fostering or you’ve been put off by what seemed like a scary process in the past, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We are always happy to answer questions to put any concerns you may have at ease.

Jay Fostering: Can I foster?

Here at Jay Fostering we know that successful foster families come in all shapes and sizes, so today on the blog we’re debunking a few myths to explain who can foster and help you to decide if becoming a foster parent is something that might be a good option for you.
 
First, let’s talk about the three most important things you need to be able to commit to before becoming a foster parent. Along with a bedroom that could be used exclusively for a foster child, you’ll also need the patience and understanding required to help nurture a child placed in your care. As you’d expect, being able to commit time to care for a child properly is also incredibly important and at least one carer needs to be on hand all of the time. However, if you are part of a couple where one of you works full-time or you are a single parent, fostering could be an option for you.

Fostering as a single parent
 
We have lots of foster parents working with us who are single parents. You don’t need to be part of a couple to foster; what matters is that you’re able to dedicate enough time and energy to looking after the child or children in your care. As a single foster carer this may mean that you need to be at home full-time or have flexible employment that can fit around the needs of a child.
 
LGBT fostering
It doesn’t matter whether foster carers are single or part of a couple, gender or sexual orientation is not a factor for consideration either. We’ll always consider whether candidates are capable of providing a stable and caring home for a foster child, so if you think you fit the bill, do get in touch.
 
Fostering for retired/older people
 
Fostering can be a very rewarding experience for older and retired people. Many people find when their biological families move out or they no longer work full-time that they have lots of energy they’d like to share with others. If this sounds like you, you could be a great candidate for fostering! There is no upper age limit for becoming a foster parent; so as long as you’re fit and healthy your application will be considered like any other.
 
Fostering for all
 
We welcome fostering applications from individuals and couples from all ethnic groups and work with social workers to place children of diverse ethnic groups. When placing a foster child, workers will always prioritise the needs of a child, which means you’ll need to support a sense of positive ethnic identity or religion but you won’t necessarily need to be of the same ethnicity or religion to be matched with a child. If you have any questions, please get in touch for a chat – no question is too silly.

Can I foster if I don’t have experience of childcare?

As part of your fostering application, you’ll be assessed to see where you may need extra support as you prepare to become a foster parent. While we do welcome applications from individuals and couples who have experience of caring for children – either within their career or perhaps looking after other family members – if you’re hoping to look after children for the first time we can support your fostering journey too.
 
Hopefully this post has answered some of your fostering questions but if you have any outstanding queries about who can foster, or anything else, please get in touch with our team and we’ll be happy to talk through them with you.