In this article, we’ll be discussing the importance of creating a care plan for successful foster care placements and other important details that you need to be aware of should you want to become a foster carer.
What is a care plan?
A care plan is a document that details why children are living in a certain place, like a foster home, with an extended member of their family, or another residential home.
The plan will go into detail about what will happen to the child during their time in foster care, how long they can expect to be in foster care, and what will happen after their stay.
A lot of the details in this plan will depend on the child’s age and the reasons why they were put into foster care in the first place. For example, a plan may stipulate that an older child may live on their own in a semi-independent unit after their stay in foster care, whereas a younger child may move to another foster family after a certain period.
Important points to cover in a care plan
The aim of a care plan is to set out the steps needed to make a child feel comfortable, regardless of where they will be staying.
Some of the important parts of a care plan that should always be considered are:
- Creating a sense of permanence for the child, even if they are only staying in foster care for a short period of time – this includes making the child feel welcome, at home, and stable in their new environment.
- Pay attention to the individual needs of each child by incorporating their perspective in all areas of the care plan.
- Involve the birth families of the child where possible to nurture their relationship, even if there is no plan for them to return home after being in foster care.
- Focus on fostering strong, positive connections for the child, especially for those who have not had stable relationships in the past.
What do foster parents do?
A foster parent is someone who will provide care to a child that has been placed into foster care – often because they have experienced some form of abuse or neglect.
As a foster parent, you will work with a team of professionals – including the family courts, the child’s birth family, care solicitors, and a social worker – to make sure the child is getting the care and support they need.
You will usually agree to look after the child for a certain period of time, after which they will return home or move to alternative accommodation.
What disqualifies you from fostering?
A big part of the care plan will involve finding a suitable foster carer for the child. Not everyone can be a foster carer, some of the following points could mean you’re disqualified:
- If you have a history of violent or sexual offences.
- If you have a physical or mental health issue that would prevent you from being able to care for a child.
- If you have a full-time job where you work outside of the home.
- If you don’t have adequate space in your home for a child to stay.
- If you’re below the age of 21.
- If you are the owner of a dog breed that has to be registered under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991/1997.
How long does it take to become a foster carer?
To become a foster carer in the UK, you will have to go through a 7-step process:
- Apply to become a foster parent through your local council or an independent fostering agency.
- Attend a mandatory fostering preparation course.
- You, and every adult you live with, must pass an enhanced with barred lists Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
- You and your family will be assessed by a social worker.
- You can state any of your personal preferences – like the age or gender of your foster child.
- You will meet with a fostering service panel to review your application.
- The fostering panel will then decide if you’re allowed to foster or not.
You can find out more about the process of becoming a foster carer on the Government’s website.