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What is Fostering?

Fostering is a way of providing a safe and stable family home for a child or young person who can’t live with their birth family.

Foster carers look after children on a day to day basis. This support can be on a full-time basis or a part time basis (respite) depending on the child’s needs.

Who can apply to become a Foster Carer?

At Beta Foster Care we welcome applicants from all backgrounds, nationalities, religious and ages. Whether you are single, married or in a relationship; a homeowner or renting; straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual. The three main criteria we have, are:

· You need to have a spare room in your home

· You need to be over 21 years of age

· You need to have British Citizenship to leave to remain in the UK

What checks are carried out?

If you decide to apply to become a foster carer, we will also undertake the following checks:

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS formally CRB) checks on everyone in the household over the age of 16 will be completed

Checks with your local authority social work service

Checks with the education department if your children are still at school

A standard safeguarding check on your home

A health check will be completed with your GP. Not all disabilities or medical conditions will stop you from fostering

Will a criminal conviction prevent me from fostering?

A criminal conviction won’t always prevent you from being a foster carer it depends on the nature of the conviction and when it occurred but people with a history of sexual offences and/or cruelty to children will not be considered. We carry out police checks as part of our application process but advise you to declare and discuss any convictions early on.

How much is the fostering allowance?

This depends on the age of the child you are caring for, the type of placement and the child’s individual needs. The allowance includes a reward element, a child maintenance allowance and an additional needs allowance for larger outgoings such as computers, holidays; birthdays etc. The allowance paid by Beta is between £390 and £430. This payment will cover food and clothing; household bills; local travel and mileage; activities, treats, trips and presents; and the young person’s pocket money; personal allowances and savings

Will I pay tax on my earnings?

Foster carers are classed as self-employed, as such you will be entitled to tax relief on your income. There is a fixed tax exemption of £10,000 per year. This means you don’t have to pay tax on the first £10,000 you earn through fostering. You may also be able to receive tax breaks on earnings over £10,000. See HMRC website for further guidance.

How does an Independent Fostering Agency differ from a Local Authority?

Foster carers in the UK have the choice of registering to work with a Local Authority (LA) or with an independent fostering agency (IFA).

An IFA is separate from but works in partnership with local authorities to keep children safe.

There are several key differences between IFA and LA foster carers, they include:

· The Age of Children – Children who need to be fostered by IFA’s are usually older than children fostered by LA’s, although this is not always the case. If you are only interested in fostering babies, it would probably be best to contact your local authority

· Fees and Allowances – The fees and allowances provided to IFA foster carers is generally higher than those provided to LA foster carers. If you have a child in your care full time, there is an expectation that one carer will be available on a full-time basis

· Levels of Support and Training – This will differ hugely between different LA’s and IFA’s. At Beta, we offer support and advice 24/7. You will have a designated social worker who will guide and support you. You will receive regular training relevant to your role and supervision to support you with this. You will have the opportunity to attend regular meetings and support groups and receive peer support from other Beta foster carers

Can I still work and be a Foster Carer?

Once you have a child or young person in placement, Beta would expect that one foster carer in the household would be at home on a full-time basis. In some cases, it may be possible for you to continue working in some capacity. This should be discussed with one of our social workers as it will depend upon your individual circumstances.

How long does it take to become a foster carer?

Once we receive your enquiry a member of our team will make contact to take some details and answer any questions you have. A visit will be arranged for a fostering social worker to meet you in your home to discuss the process and the different types of fostering available. If appropriate you will be invited to attend the skills to foster training, once this is completed it usually takes between 4 and 6 months for the assessment to be completed and presented to panel for their consideration. You will receive advice and support regarding the different stages of your journey throughout

Can I foster even though I have my own children at home?

Yes, although we advise the need to consider the impact of fostering on your own children and whether they are of an age/understanding to manage the challenges of fostering. We will include your own children in our assessment and preparation process.

Foster children cannot share a room unless they are a young sibling group, and this has been agreed by the local authority

Do I need to be able to drive to foster?

Yes, you will need to attend several meetings and transport children to school, activities and appointments. Often these are not in the local area therefore it would be very difficult to achieve this without access to a car

If I foster with someone else can I transfer to Beta?

Yes, Beta receive enquiries from carers who already foster and have had several carers transfer from the local authority or other private agencies. If you have a young person in placement we will liaise with your agency or local authority to ensure this is as smooth as possible

You will need to have a full assessment however this should be a shorter process as you will already have experience of fostering. You will be able to continue to foster with your current agency or local authority whilst the assessment with Beta is completed

Can I foster if I have pets?

Yes, however this will depend upon the temperament of the pet. Any pets you have that live in the home will be considered as part of your assessment and dogs will have their own risk assessment