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Frequently Asked Questions - Fostering

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Questions typically asked by people who are interested in Fostering.
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Being a foster carer may be something you've thought about for a long time or you might just be starting out. If you're interested in fostering you've probably got lots of questions and this list of FAQs is intended as a guide to some of the most common queries we come across.

Is there an age limit?
You will need to be over 21 years and there is no upper age limit.
Do I have to have a spare bedroom?
Yes, it is essential for a foster child to have their own bedroom.
I am single / gay or lesbian / don't have my own children - can I still foster?
Foster carers come from all walks of life. Whatever your background, it's the qualities you bring to fostering that count. It doesn't matter whether you are man or woman who is single, married, divorced, in a civil partnership or cohabiting. We welcome applications from people who do not have children as well as those that do, regardless of their relationship status, gender or sexual orientation. All that we ask is that you have been a 'steady' situation for at least 18 months.
What if I don't own my own home?
You don't have to have a certain type of property to foster - you can live in a flat or house and you can own your own home or be renting. What is important is that you are able to offer a stable and secure home, which could mean a long-term lease or that you have a mortgage.
We're about to move / get married / have a baby - can we still apply?
It is unlikely that we would begin the assessment process to approve you as a foster carer if you are moving house, or about to, and would ask you to wait a little while if you are currently pregnant or have a child under 18 months old. If you are about to experience a major life event such as marriage, moving home or having a baby you may want to take some time to decide whether it is the right time for you to apply to become a foster carer.
If I have a criminal record, can I foster?
There are some offences that would automatically bar an applicant from fostering. We need to know if you or a member of your household has any cautions, convictions or has had any involvement with the authorities such as the police or social services. It is important that you are open and honest with us so that we can advise you appropriately from the outset.
I'm already fostering, can I transfer?
We believe that foster carers, like every professional, have the right to choose who they work for. While every case is looked at individually, if it's time for a change, it could be easier than you might think to transfer to Conwy Fostering Service. We have adopted the Fostering Network's transfer protocol which aims to ensure that "children's interests are protected when foster carers transfer between fostering services" (The Fostering Network, 2014). Keeping Conwy children and young people in Conwy is very important to us.
Can I still work and foster?
There is no requirement that you have to give up full/part time work but you will need to have the time to give a child the support they need, help them keep in contact with their families if appropriate, and to attend training when required. In addition, you might need to be available during school holidays or in emergencies such as an illness or exclusion from school. If you work, we ask that you foster children aged 5+ and are able to make arrangements to collect the children from school and be available during any school holidays. We would be happy to discuss your situation further if you're not quite sure whether fostering is right for you at this time. If your time is limited you may prefer to look at offering short breaks or respite (part time) foster care for children and young people with disabilities or behavioural difficulties.
Do you need experience or specific qualifications?
You do not need specific qualifications. Some child care experience is helpful whether that's working with children or bringing up your own family. During assessment we provide an initial preparatory training course and post-approval there is an ongoing training programme for foster carers.
I've got a dog, is this an issue?
Having a dog does not prevent you from applying to become a foster carer. Any pets in the household will need to be taken into consideration for safety reasons, this will happen as part of the assessment process. However, households who have any breed of dog as listed in the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 cannot be considered. These include Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro.
I smoke - will this prevent me becoming a foster carer?
No, this won't necessarily prevent you from fostering but it does mean that you can't foster children under the age of 5 years. Children should be fostered in a smoke free environment however you can still Foster children 5-21 if you smoke but we would ask that you don't smoke in front of the child or young person or in a closed environment e.g. house or car. Those that want to care for a child with Disability also cannot be smokers.
If you have a health condition can you foster?
We need foster carers from a variety of backgrounds and someone with a long-term health condition or disability would be considered. What's most important is that you are well enough physically to care for a child or young person and that you are emotionally or psychologically robust enough to cope with the demands of the job. This means that your health will be discussed with you as part of an in-depth assessment.
What if I've had depression in the past?
Past mental illness does not automatically exclude you from applying to become a foster carer. Fostering can be challenging as well as rewarding so you would need to consider the emotional side of caring for children and young people and any impact on your mental health. We will want to discuss this with you, and a medical report forms part of the assessment process.
How long will it take to become a foster carer?
The process of becoming a foster carer can take up to 9 months and will involve some training and assessments but your social worker will be with you every step of the way.
How much information will I get about a child or teenager who is placed with me?
We tell you all the information we have, so you can provide safe, high quality care. Information is recorded on a set of forms, and you are given a lockable box to store your copy of the forms. Sometimes we don't always know much ourselves - though this is usually only if it is an unexpected placement.
Once I'm a foster carer, do I have to do it forever?
No. We always hope that our foster carers will be free to choose if they need to stop. Some of our foster carers have been fostering for Conwy for over 25 years, but all we ask is that you plan to foster for at least three years. If you have to work particularly hard with a child or teenager, you may be offered regular short breaks to help you to keep on fostering them. Being a foster carer can be hard work and there may be times when you need a longer break or have to fulfil other caring roles.
I've got children of my own. How will fostering affect them?
If you have children living at home, fostering means they will have to share your time and their home with other children. Many children of foster carers enjoy fostering, but some find it very difficult. It is important to keep talking and listening with your children, and set aside time just for them.
Why might I need to have contact with the child's family?
"I know what they did, but they're still my parents and I love them. I hate it when my foster carer acts like they don't exist." Keeping in contact with family is a huge need for most children and teenagers. It makes everybody's life harder if foster carers don't understand that. The level of contact you have with a family is agreed with the child's social worker. Sometimes it just means helping the child to keep in touch. At other times, you may have much closer contact with the family, particularly where the child is being prepared to return home.
Personal details
By making an initial enquiry with Conwy to become a foster carer you are consenting to have your details held by the local authority The Data Protection Act 1998 (the Act) regulates the use of personal data - essentially any information about identifiable living individuals. As a data controller under the Act, we must comply with its requirements.


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