What is the difference between fostering with an Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) or with a Local Authority?

Local Authorities are ultimately responsible for the wellbeing of all children in public care. They need to find the best way of looking after these children to make sure that they receive the best possible standard of care.

IFAs such as CANW provide a fostering service to Local Authorities and we work in partnership with them. We have our own foster carers, social workers, specialist support workers and education staff who work hard to ensure that the needs of the carers and children are met to high standards and without delay.

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Do I have to own my home?

No, it doesn’t matter if own or rent your home, or if you live in council or housing association accommodation so as long as your rent or mortgage payments are up to date, you have your landlord’s permission and it is of a clean standard. The important thing is that you are settled and not likely to leave at short notice and that you can offer a foster child or young person his or her own room.

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Do I have to have a spare bedroom?

Yes, and this must be available at the time of application. Part of the assessment takes into consideration your accommodation and if a spare bedroom is not available the assessment can not go ahead. If your child has gone off to University and you plan to use their bedroom, will there be enough room when they come home for holidays?

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I’m not married, does this matter?

We are not looking for a specific family set up. Much more important is your commitment to fostering, and your ability to offer a child or young person a safe and secure environment at a difficult time in their lives.

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Can I still go out to work and be a foster carer?

If you are supporting children under the age of 11, one carer must be at home full time. However for carers working with over 11’s, there is an option to work alongside fostering subject to certain criteria’s being met.

These include having support available or funding planned activities for before and after school, school holidays and during any periods of absence the child may have from school.

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If I am going to be the main foster carer, do you need to carry out checks on my partner?

We regard all couples living together as partners in the fostering process so we would require that you both have the necessary checks and training and that both take part in the assessment process. Even if you are the main carer, anyone sharing your home will have some involvement in and influence on the fostering task. We will also need to carry out checks on all adult members of the household.

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If I have a criminal conviction, does this mean I won’t be able to foster?

It depends on the nature of the criminal offence. You may wish to discuss the offence with a social worker and get some advice before you make an application to foster.

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How long does it take to become a foster carer?

We do our best to process all applications as quickly as possible, usually within six months but more often between three to four months.

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What will I know about the child or young person before they are placed with me?

We discuss every placement with our carers and it’s their decision to accept a child into their home. We share as much information about the child or young person and their background as possible. However, sometimes children come into foster care with very little information, especially in an emergency situation. In these circumstances the professional team will work as quickly as possible to piece together information.

We have highly skilled staff who match children with the right foster family, but the decision to take a child in and look after them always rests with our carers.

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Do I have a choice in the type of child I care for?

Yes, before you are approved by the fostering panel, we will have agreed on the type of child who will fit in with your family. This includes the age, gender, ethnicity and religion of potential foster children.

We will also identify specific training with CANW to assist you in expanding your skills as a foster carer.

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Can a child I foster share a bedroom with one of my own children?

Some Local Authorities will allow this, especially for younger children. However at CANW, we will only place a child in a home where he or she will have their own bedroom at time of placement (unless they are a young sibling group and it is agreed it is in the best interest of the children to share).

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What does the weekly allowance cover?

The weekly allowance is intended to cover all the needs of each foster child, including food, clothing, travel, activities, savings and so on. We provide guidance on how money should be spent on each child, to ensure that the child has a healthy and balanced life.

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Who can foster?

Most people can foster, but when we consider applications we look closely at the following areas:

  • Your legal and personal references
  • Your ability to work in partnership with the agency and as part of a professional team
  • Your family lifestyle
  • Space in your home, including sleeping arrangements
  • Your health and background
  • Your parenting skills, attitude and personality, including any experience of caring for children
  • Your ability to provide a caring and nurturing environment

Things that are less important to us are your age, marital status and employment status.

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