Fostering is a way of providing a safe, stable and caring home for a child who is unable to live with their parents.

It is a challenging, yet rewarding, role that offers you the opportunity to support a child to rebuild their self-confidence and self-esteem. Foster carers aim to provide new experiences and support children to make choices and achieve their true potential.

Children and young people who come into foster care can be from a diverse range of backgrounds and are likely to have experienced trauma such as neglect, abuse and separation from their family.

Your role as a foster carer is to understand and listen to the child, walk alongside them in their life, acknowledge their experiences and support them to thrive. A caring relationship between foster carer and a looked after child can help them reach their true potential, in spite of their experiences.

Both adoption and long-term fostering can provide a permanent home for a child, but there are some differences.

Adoption removes the legal rights and responsibilities of the child’s birth parents and family, although there may still be limited contact with the birth family, such as letters, photographs and occasional meetings.

Fostering formally continues until the child is 18 but can continue longer, although fostering families often keep in touch with young people after they leave their care. It does mean the child or young person can keep their ties with their birth family and foster carers will work in partnership with social workers for the wellbeing of the child. The child’s birth family may be involved in important decisions made about their child.

Foster carers also receive support, training and are paid a foster care allowance whilst they are looking after a child. Payments will depend on the needs of the child.

There are many reasons why a child may enter foster care. Each child will present with an individual story but every child will have faced loss and separation from their birth family

A child may be removed from their family for their own safety as a result of neglect. This may be due to problems at home or a situation where their welfare is threatened. Many will have experienced neglect and abuse. Sometimes the aim will be to return a child to their birth family quickly, whereas other placements may be longer term.

Our foster carers have varied backgrounds, religions, sexual orientation, gender, age and culture. None of these is a barrier to fostering.

We look for foster carers who can provide a safe and caring home and are willing to learn how best to support children.

Our ideal foster carers have certain personal qualities. We want them to be enthusiastic, reliable, caring, approachable, empathetic, warm, accepting of others, non-judgemental and able to make a commitment. We also look for potential foster carers who are open, curious, keen to develop professionally and personally, resilient, practical and able to be playful.

It sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it? But time and again we are amazed by the wonderful attitudes and qualities of the people who apply to foster with us. They are truly special and come from all walks of life. The good news is, the people who consider fostering a child are usually this type of person.

It would also be great if you have experience of working with others and being around children (whether that is through parenting, a professional role or having helped others care for children). We want you to be interested in people and what makes them tick.

Yes, we look for people who have either parented or have supported other people to look after children. But you don’t need any professional training before applying to foster.

If approved to foster, we will provide you with all required training and support to be able to look after children with varying needs linked to their life experiences.

Yes, we look for people who have either parented or have supported other people to look after children. But you don’t need any professional trYes. As a foster carer, you will need to be able to regularly communicate with other professionals, such as a social worker, relating to the child’s welfare.

You will also be required to complete regular reports on how the child’s development is progressing.

No, but foster carers must have a secure tenancy at their existing home. We are required to ask permission from your landlord for you to foster at that residence.

The minimum age for fostering is 25 years old and there is no maximum age. As long as you have ample energy, time and enthusiasm then you can foster. The assessment process includes health checks to ensure you are well enough to become a foster carer. Many people consider fostering after their own children have left home, so we welcome applications from older people.

The simple answer is yes! Children can thrive just as well in a single parent caring home as they would in a couple’s home. However, as a single parent we recommend ensuring that you have a solid and supportive network of family and friends.

Yes! A person’s sexuality does not impact their consideration as a foster carer. We welcome enquiries from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

You can foster if you are not married. Whether you are single or co-habiting you are able to foster as long as you can offer a stable and loving home.

Yes! You can foster if you have children living at home. As a parent you will have gained great experience in looking after children. We will have to take into consideration the needs of your own children and those of the looked after child before we can make a fostering placement.

We will look at the potential impact on the children and help you to prepare your family for the new experience of a child coming to share your lives. You cannot foster a child if your own child is under two years old.

At To the Moon and Back Foster Care we place a very strong focus on foster carer wellbeing. That’s why we offer regular supervision time with a dedicated social worker who can talk through any problems you are experiencing. If you need to speak to someone in between supervision times, we are available to contact by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

We also introduce you to other local foster carers so you can have peer support. And we arrange regular family days and meet ups. Our training programme includes courses and advice that will strengthen your confidence as a foster carer. Find out more about our wellbeing package.

Meeting the needs of a looked after child is paramount to us. We will work very closely with you and the child in your care to make sure that the transfer process goes smoothly.

If you want to transfer to us, you’ll need to tell your existing agency as soon as possible. After you’ve done this, they’ll arrange a meeting to discuss the transfer and we’ll be at the meeting with you to answer any questions and support the process.

To find out more about transferring and joining our team just give us a call on 01223 800420. One of our team will be happy to assist you and answer any questions you may have.

The Fostering Network explain more about transferring in their ‘ Transfer of Carers Protocol Aug 2014‘. If you’re thinking about transferring we recommend you give it a read, or call us for more information.

Transferring to another fostering agency involves a piece of work which can be undertaken relatively quickly, it can be undertaken in as little as 6 weeks. There are formal processes that are required to be undertaken and the processes follow a formal Transfer Protocol. Before deciding on Transferring, it is a good idea to research other fostering agencies in your area and determine what you feel it is that you are missing in your current fostering agency.

We recommend that you consider the kind of relationship you are looking for and how you feel you can be best supported to be successful in your role. Happy supported foster carer’s leads to a greater likelihood of happy supported young people, able to achieve their true potential.

At some point you will need to speak to someone about your thoughts regarding transfer to another agency. The conversation should be confidential and you should feel satisfied that there is no commitment at this stage, it is purely a fact finding exercise.

Your current fostering agency will formally acknowledge your notice of intent to transfer. The agency you are intending to transfer to, will arrange for your current agency to authorise an opportunity to look through your fostering file.

This can only be done with explicit consent from you. This is an important part of the initial transfer assessment process for the new agency to get to know you and identify that there are no reasons why you should be unable to continue fostering.

Once this has been done and the new agency you have chosen to transfer to is satisfied that you are fit to foster they will engage with everyone involved in the care of the children you are looking after in order to arrange a meeting, sometimes called a protocol meeting.

Most fostering agencies suggest that skills to foster is not required for transferring foster carers as they have usually done it before. We do not believe that you should complete the full course as a formality, but we will explain areas of training that we cover as part of the course and ask if you would like to undertake any part of it. You will be invited to a development day which we find, new foster carers coming to us find very informative and enables them to develop their general knowledge and understand what is available to them, we consider this as an agency induction day.

You will be required to be compliant in all mandatory training as set out in fostering legislation. This should be discussed as part of the transferring assessment process to be presented at Panel.

The meeting is usually led by the placing authority for the children in your care. The aim of the meeting is to determine that the transfer you are intending to make will be in the best interest of the children in your care. The local authority acting as the corporate parent for the child in your care must be satisfied that the welfare of the child can be continued or improved as a result of the switch to a different fostering agency and that the agency you are choosing to go to can continue to provide the level of support required for you to continue to be successful as a foster carer.

The meeting will include discussion about fees, this is to ensure that the current fee situation can be met as a basic, but by this point you will have had meaningful conversations with your transferring agency of choice and be reassured that this will be ok.

After the protocol meeting discussed above, the local authority will make their in principle decision about whether the transfer can go ahead. It is in principle because the final decision about the transfer once the local authority is in agreement, lies with the agency where you are transferring to. Just as when you first became a foster carer, the transfer assessment has to go through the agency’s independent panel process. Once panel are happy to recommend approval, the final decision will go to the Agency Decision Maker after the Panel meeting.

If you don’t have a child or young person placed with you when you decide to transfer, you’ll need to advise your agency of your intent to resign before your assessment can commence. You can give your 28 days’ notice of resignation at any point in the assessment and pre -approval process. Your current fostering agency will be asked to give a reference.

You’ll be allocated a supervising social worker and they’ll support you through your assessment.

Whilst fostering is regarded a vocational role, payment is given to foster carers and these payments are subject to limited taxation, which means that foster carers can receive some tax free sums. The payment varies depending on the specific care need of the children. Foster carers working with To the Moon and Back can expect to earn on average £21,000 per child per year, assuming that the child stayed with you for 52 weeks.

The allowance covers everything you would need for a child such as school uniforms, activities, toys, birthday presents, Christmases and holidays. We can put a contribution towards exceptional costs. This is covered in more detail as part of our initial visit and ongoing training and induction.

Foster carers should pay towards National Insurance. There’s a fixed tax exemption of up to £10,000 per year (less if for a shorter period) which is shared equally among any foster carers in the same household. This means you don’t have to pay tax on the first £10,000 income (after expenses) you make from fostering.

On top of the £10,000 exemption, you also get tax relief for every week (or part week) that a child is in your care. This means you don’t have to pay tax on some of your earnings over £10,000.

Please read the Government guidelines on tax and National Insurance for foster carers.

You will be eligible for payment whenever you are caring for a looked after child. The foster care allowance payments are made by our agency to you on a monthly basis, however we endeavour to ensure that our foster carers receive adequate funding to support them to offer the best care to children. Therefore we will make payments outside of this payment period in order to support foster carers to adapt their finances to the monthly payment plan.

Everyone needs a break sometimes. We recognise that there will be times, when you have a child in your care, when you may wish to take a short break, for example to celebrate some special event with your family.

In this situation you will be paid your usual fostering rate and another approved foster carer will care for the child while you are celebrating. The approved foster carer will also be paid. You will have at least 14 respite days each full year you have a child in placement. When you do not have a child in placement for a full year, the respite is calculated pro-rata.

kWe want to ensure that the child’s care during respite is not compromised in any way. It is essential that the child’s education is not affected so we ask that adequate planning is made to ensure that the child has lots of time to adapt to a short break away from their carers. We also need sufficient time to appoint a carer and support their building of a good relationship with the child before the break is due to be taken.

It can take as little as three months to become approved as a foster carer for To the Moon and Back Fostering. Using our contact us form we can arrange to have a chat with you where you can ask us more about fostering. We will show you where to find out more about becoming a foster carer and whether it would suit you. We’ll leave it up to you to decide whether to take the next step with your enquiry. Find out more about the assessment process here.

The assessment and training process will include a formal assessment by a social worker. They will meet with you and your family to learn more about you and your reasons for fostering.

There will also be mandatory training called “Skills to Foster”. This runs for three days and usually takes place over a weekend. During this training you will reflect on the challenges of fostering and ask any questions you may have. There will also be other training courses you need to take, including First Aid, Safeguarding, Child Development Theories and Trauma Awareness. Find out more about the training and assessment process here

Although you don’t need to give up work, you will need to work in a flexible way. Due to the problems many foster children have suffered, they may not be able to take themselves to school. Therefore you would need to be available for school pick up, drop off and on days when they are not attending school due to illness, exclusions, appointments etc. We may also require you to attend meetings about the child during working hours. Many foster carers are self-employed in work that can fit around their fostering duties.

You will need a spare bedroom to become a foster carer. Many people question this when they apply to become a foster carer. But we explain that looked after children need a space to call their own and they need privacy. This means they can’t share a bedroom with you or with other children.

We welcome people from any religion or cultural background to apply to become a foster carer. We are sensitive to the cultural needs of looked after children and endeavour to place them with foster carers who can support their cultural and religious needs.

You probably can foster, but we would need to check there was adequate public transport near your home. You will need to be able to take your fostered child to school and back, to appointments and to activities and hobbies.

Everyone who applies to foster child will have a DBS check that will reveal any criminal record. Some offences will mean that you are ineligible to foster, but it depends on the length of time since the offence and the nature of the crime. If you get in touch with us, we can have a private discussion with you to explore your options and answer your questions.

The child is always listened to and an investigation will be conducted. All child care organisations must comply with these regulations. We appreciate that at a time like this you will feel uncomfortable and that you will need someone to talk to and guide you through this process. That’s why you will have a dedicated contact at To the Moon and Back, someone not involved in the investigation, who will be available to support you. We allocate someone you can talk directly to and gain the support you will require whilst the formal process is being conducted making you feel connected and valued by To the Moon and Back Fostering.

We know allegations can feel very scary and we will never leave you alone to cope with this situation. We also provide you with legal representation via the membership we supply for you with Fostering Network.

As a foster carer thinking of transferring, you will have specific reasons for this and will have (as suggested above) researched other agencies and what they can offer you.

Once you have decided on an agency that you feel will be able to offer you what you are looking for, in order for this transfer process to commence you are required to formally give notice to your existing agency and the placing authorities of the children you are caring for, of your intention to transfer. If you do not have children in placement you are required to give notice of your intention to transfer just to your current fostering agency.

The fostering agency you have chosen to transfer to, will want to ensure that you fully understand the process and will meet with you formally to share the transfer process and the timescale for each part of the process. In the same way that when you first decided you wanted to foster, the new fostering agency is required to undertake a formal assessment of you and once complete the assessment is shared with the agency independent panel and you will be required to attend panel. Formal checks will be undertaken on your behalf, including references. This is regulatory requirement for transfer.

Once you have served notice of your intent to transfer, a protocol meeting date will be set. The meeting can be convened by the placing authority/authorities – this may include commissioning/contracting officers as well as the children’s social worker, representation from your current agency, representation from the fostering agency you are choosing to transfer to and of course yourselves.

Where there is more than one placing authority responsible for the children in your care, the authority that has had children placed for the longest period with the foster carer will be generally be considered the ‘lead’ authority but this is only done by agreement.

You will not be expected to bring or present this information. The professionals in the meeting will be required to prepare for aspects of the meeting agenda. In the event that lots of information is required, you should be consulted in its preparation so that it is accurate. We prepare transferring carers in advance of any protocol meeting, so that they are fully informed of what is likely to be discussed so that you can feel less anxious and continue to focus on the children in your care and your family during the transferring process.

At the point that the Agency Decision Maker has approved you to transfer to the agency you have chosen, you are then required to give 28 days’ notice of your intention to leave your current agency. This is a formal contractual process and formally states your date of leaving one agency and joining another.