We want to see more LGBT+ people considering fostering
Becoming a foster carer is one of the most rewarding things in life and there are a huge number of children in need of a loving home who are waiting for someone to come into their life.
According to Professor Susan Golombok, Professor of Family Research and Director of the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge, who has studied the effects of coming from an LGBTQ+ family since the 1970s, compared on aggregate with straight families, there was better communication and emotional intelligence in families with same-sex or transgender parents.
We feel that being gay, lesbian, transgender, or bisexual adds additional life experience and insight which is transferrable to fostering. We appreciate many LGBT+ people may have experienced prejudice or feelings of being diﬀerent from their peers at some point in their life. Similar feelings of being different, are likely to be experienced by many children in care. Carers able to identify with these feelings and empathise with care experienced young people are more likely to be able to form strong connections and build trusting relationship with them and enable them to feel more understood and respected, allowing them to rebuild their self-conﬁdence and fulﬁl their true potential in life.
Who can become a foster carer?
Just as our children are all individuals, so are our foster carers. Our carers come from all walks of life; they may be lesbian, gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, in a relationship or single, renting their home or homeowners, pet owners or not, and any age, but usually over the age of 25. We look for people who have the commitment, warmth and resilience needed for the job.
What we look for in our foster carers are special personal qualities
What all our foster carers do need to be, is compassionate and have a willingness to open their heart and their home to a child who may have experienced neglect or abuse. 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 our potential foster carers to be open, curious, keen to develop professionally and personally, resilient, practical, and able to be playful.
Whilst we are searching for lots of qualities, we understand that you may not have parented before. That is not a barrier to fostering because we realise that people new to fostering will want to learn and be successful and so we are ready to equip you with the knowledge and confidence to be a successful foster carer.
Children living in care can feel very diﬀerent from their peers. Being unable to live with their family for whatever reason, often carries a stigma and can bring judgement from others. Children come in to care through no fault of their own and deserve to be able to live with someone who understands how they might be feeling and enable them to gradually re-build their self-conﬁdence and reach their true potential in life.
Why should you consider fostering with To the Moon and Back Foster Care?
We have a very warm and inclusive approach and we truly value and respect individuality. We are committed to building long lasting relationships based on equality and trust. We are delighted that this has been recognised by Encompass Network and are thrilled to have our accreditation as a Safe Space for LGBT+ people.
What can you expect?
If you feel fostering might be for you, we welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have. We will usually visit you in your home initially, (Covid restrictions permitting) to start the conversation with you as we will need to assess the suitability of your home and discuss with you your motivations to foster, and the same time learn more about your ambitions generally. When we are happy that the criteria for fostering can be met and that you feel you have had the time to examine what fostering might mean for you, you will have the opportunity to apply formally.
What happens after I have applied?
The assessment and approval process involves you sharing a lot of information about yourself. It is important that we know everything about you, the highs, as well as the lows. It is purposeful. We must be sure, that any family coming forward will be able to support a child experiencing loss and manage the impact of any abuse or neglect that the child may have been subjected to. We assess the ability of families to oﬀer commitment to seeing things through with a child placed with them. Our aim is to enable a child to have stability and prevent children and young people having to move foster homes repeatedly. A large part of the work of the assessment process is to determine if that will be possible.
The fostering assessment is understandably rigorous, after all, foster carers care for some of the most vulnerable children in our society. That said our assessment team approach this in a non-judgemental way and with tremendous sensitivity. We carefully match you with an assessing social worker who will oﬀer good insight, reassurance, and individualised support during the process. Part of the assessment enables you to understand what might trigger difficult memories for you when looking after children and how you might deal with this should it happen.
Once complete, your assessment is made available to you, for your review before it is shown to our independent panel.
How do you we protect your information?
We have a duty of care to protect any information we hold about you. We are very clear that only people who have a right to see your information will be given the ability to do so. We must fulﬁl regulatory requirements in respect to how long we hold information about you. This is out of our control; however, we have strictly monitored systems and information access is limited to only those people who need it. All sharing of information related to you, for example with local authorities who are responsible for placing children, is done through a protected process which prevents unauthorised access to your personal information.
What is the role of the Panel and what does it consist of?
Our independent panel usually consists of no less than 5 people (including the chair), all of whom will have experience or skills relevant to fostering. For example, panel members could be social workers, teachers, foster carers, care experienced people, therapists, or children’s nurses. These people are also vetted and are required to work to specific regulations as part of the process. They will be provided with information about you, gathered as part of the assessment process by your assessor. As a panel, they will meet you and any life partner also, and ask you relevant questions. Their role is to determine that the assessment has been completed correctly and to identify any potential areas where further clarification may be needed before the panel members can decide if they can recommend you as a foster carer. It is an important part of the process to becoming a foster carer. The meeting with the panel members will be minuted and you will be accompanied by your assessor. Your assessor will prepare you for the panel meeting as whilst it is an exciting stage, most people feel quite nervous about this part.
Panel will determine, having met you and having read your information gathered as part of the formal assessment, whether they feel they are able to recommend you as a foster carer. You will be asked to leave the panel meeting whilst they deliberate but will be invited back to hear their recommendation.
What happens next?
The recommendation made by panel will then be presented to the Agency Decision Maker. This is a further element of the formal process to becoming approved as a foster carer. The Agency Decision Maker (ADM) will be sent the minutes of the panel meeting you attended, and the assessment made by your assessor. The ADM will not meet you. The ADM’s role is to once again check that everything required is in place and to consider the recommendation made by panel members. The process undertaken by the ADM forms part of the regulated process. The ADM will determine whether an approval to foster can be made.
What happens once approved as a foster carer?
Following your panel meeting, it takes about 7 days before the ADM can make their decision about approval. You will be contacted and then sent a letter to confirm your approval.
Approval will include how many children you can foster at a time and their age. The ADM may make further recommendations for the fostering agency, including areas to be considered for your development.
The assessment process is very thorough, and we make no apology for this. It is very important to us that your relationship with the agency is deemed equal and respectful. The key to you feeling well supported as a foster carer is that you feel in a trusted relationship with us. We therefore work to ensure that you feel safe to disclose information about yourself, knowing it will be treated with respect and kept securely. Getting to know you well is the start of the matching process of children to your family. We want our foster carers to feel that they are successful and our children to feel safe, loved and settled with you, as a result of your experience, ability and confidence, as well as where you live.
Does this sound like you?
If so, you have come to the right place and could be the type of person our looked after children need. We are very keen to hear from people who want to foster or find out more about what it entails.
To get in touch you can call us on 01223 800420 or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively fill in the form on the right and we’ll get back to you when it’s convenient.