Empty Nest Fostering

Empty nest? Could fostering be the right choice for you?

It’s that dreaded time for teenagers and parents alike – A Level results are out. Whether youngsters do as well as expected, or have to go through clearing, university life is just around the corner for around one third of the UK’s 18 year olds – and an ‘empty nest’ for worried parents.

For some parents, an empty nest is a welcome relief from the hectic schedule of looking after teenagers. No more loud music, no people creeping in the front door hours past bedtime, and no more sulky teenagers. However, for some, the quiet life just doesn’t cut it. That need to love, care, nurture and mentor someone just isn’t being met – could fostering with The Foster Care Agency provide the solution?

Parents can go through a lot raising their children including – but not limited to – sleepless nights, stress, worry, tears of happiness and frustration, and at The Foster Care Agency we think this gives them a fantastic set of skills which can be utilised through fostering. Providing a safe and secure home for a child or young person is only part of becoming a foster carer, having the patience, commitment, perseverance and determination to succeed are just as important. Fostering can provide a refreshingly different challenge from traditional parenthood – one that many find extremely rewarding.

For many, the ‘empty nest’ stage of their life is the perfect time to look into fostering. The impact of birth children is lessened as they begin their exciting new life at university; there are less financial pressures with one less mouth to feed, along with extra space in the home. When children return from university in holidays or visit as adults they provide an excellent role model for young people in your care and a welcome distraction.

The journey to becoming a foster carer usually takes around 4-6 months to complete. During this time a social worker will complete an assessment on you and your family – which includes contacting birth children, completing a series of background checks and references, and also involves attending a 3-day training course arranged locally. Once approved as foster carers, you will be supported 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by our qualified Social Workers, attend regular training courses, and receive a generous weekly allowance to assist with household living costs. You will also be invited to various children’s events, charity events and support groups so that you always feel part of the TFCA family.

If you would like to know more about fostering, please call us on 01273463100 or register your interest on recruitment@thefostercareagency.org.uk and we’ll be in touch!

What happens during a fostering assessment?

Whether you’re at the very start of your fostering journey and doing research before you make an initial enquiry, or whether you’re preparing to have an assessment soon, we understand that you may feel apprehensive about this step.

As you’d expect, the fostering assessment process involves an in-depth analysis, but it shouldn’t be intimidating or frightening. So, to help you feel more at ease when your own assessment approaches, we’re going to outline how a foster care assessment works in a little more detail for you.
 
When will your TFCA foster care assessment happen?

The foster care assessment is usually the third stage in an individual or couple’s foster care application journey. Following an initial enquiry, which may happen over the telephone or in person, you will receive a fostering pack full of information to help you decide if fostering could be a good fit for you. Next you will be visited by one of our team who will talk to you in more detail about fostering and how it might impact on your lifestyle, as well as answering any questions you may have about the process. If you decide to proceed, the next step is to complete a fostering application form. This will be followed by your fostering assessment.
 
What is the fostering assessment process?

Once we receive your form, we will allocate an assessor who will work with you and your family during the assessment process. They will visit you at your home on a number of occasions and work through your application with you, gathering information about your family life, your background and history and about current and previous relationships.

We will identify any previous experience you have of looking after children or providing care. Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks will be carried out to confirm whether you have any previous cautions or convictions. The questions you are asked will be probing, but are designed to find out how fostering might impact on you and your family, so it’s important to answer fully and honestly. Your assessor will always try and make you feel as relaxed as possible. You will also be asked to provide the names of referees as part of this process, and these people will be contacted in relation to your application.

This process will help your assessor put together what is known as a Form F in relation to your application. This will pull the collected information together and you will have the opportunity to review your Form F before it is passed to the Fostering Panel. You will meet with the Panel to discuss your application and find out whether they will be recommending that your application be progressed. This gives you the opportunity to discuss with them your experiences, circumstances and other details outlined in the form.
 
Want to learn more about the assessment?

Hopefully this post has helped you feel a little more relaxed about the fostering process as a whole and about any approaching assessment meetings you may have.  If you’re unsure whether you could be suitable for fostering or you’ve been put off by what seemed like a scary process in the past, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We are always happy to answer questions to put any concerns you may have at ease.

TFCA: Can I foster?

Here at The Foster Care Agency we know that successful foster families come in all shapes and sizes, so today on the blog we’re debunking a few myths to explain who can foster and help you to decide if becoming a foster carer is something that might be a good option for you.
 
First, let’s talk about the three most important things you need to be able to commit to before becoming a foster carer. Along with a bedroom that could be used exclusively for a foster child, you’ll also need the patience and understanding required to help nurture a child placed in your care. As you’d expect, being able to commit time to care for a child properly is also incredibly important and at least one carer needs to be on hand all of the time. However, if you are part of a couple where one of you works full-time or you are a single parent, fostering could be an option for you.

Fostering as a single parent
 
We have lots of foster carers working with us who are single parents. You don’t need to be part of a couple to foster; what matters is that you’re able to dedicate enough time and energy to looking after the child or children in your care. As a single foster carer this may mean that you need to be at home full-time or have flexible employment that can fit around the needs of a child.
 
LGBT fostering
 
It doesn’t matter whether foster carers are single or part of a couple, gender or sexual orientation is not a factor for consideration either. We’ll always consider whether candidates are capable of providing a stable and caring home for a foster child, so if you think you fit the bill, do get in touch.

Fostering for retired/older people
 
Fostering can be a very rewarding experience for older and retired people. Many people find when their biological families move out or they no longer work full-time that they have lots of energy they’d like to share with others. If this sounds like you, you could be a great candidate for fostering! There is no upper age limit for becoming a foster carer; so as long as you’re fit and healthy your application will be considered like any other.
 
Fostering for all
 
We welcome fostering applications from individuals and couples from all ethnic groups and work with social workers to place children of diverse ethnic groups. When placing a foster child, workers will always prioritise the needs of a child, which means you’ll need to support a sense of positive ethnic identity or religion but you won’t necessarily need to be of the same ethnicity or religion to be matched with a child. If you have any questions, please get in touch for a chat – no question is too silly.

Can I foster if I don’t have experience of childcare?


As part of your fostering application, you’ll be assessed to see where you may need extra support as you prepare to become a foster carer. While we do welcome applications from individuals and couples who have experience of caring for children – either within their career or perhaps looking after other family members – if you’re hoping to look after children for the first time we can support your fostering journey too.
 
Hopefully this post has answered some of your fostering questions but if you have any outstanding queries about who can foster, or anything else, please get in touch with our team and we’ll be happy to talk through them with you.
 

Spotting the Signs of Bullying

Defining Bullying

The act of bullying is often a repeated behaviour intended to cause hurt to somebody either emotionally or physically. Despite ongoing attempts to stop bullying it is still very much present in society. As the internet and the ‘cyber’ world becomes more accessible to children and young people so does the threat of being bullied.

If you consider that bullying is frequently aimed at people because of their gender, sexual orientation, race or religion. Foster children can often be more exposed to bullying for a variety of reasons including appearing to be more vulnerable as they don’t live with their birth parent; they may appear to lack self-confidence and be very shy or they may appear very precocious.

Why do people bully?

It seems difficult to understand why someone would want to intentionally hurt someone else (either physically and/ or emotionally) however with children it is often an attempt to show that they have power and strength. It could also be due to the bully having low self-esteem themselves or maybe they are having challenges at home or at school. Often children can express these issues in negative ways such as anger and frustration. Whilst this doesn’t make bullying acceptable in anyway it does help us understand the motivation of the bully.

Types of Bullying

Internet/Online/Cyber-Bullying

Technological developments in the last decade have led to there being a huge growth in interactive sites aimed at the youth market: Facebook, Bebo, Ask FM, Twitter, Snapchat, MySpace and many many more. This list also continues to grow. Bullying takes place over these networks. Examples of bullying include blackmail, threats, stolen identity and abusive comments and pictures that are aimed at causing someone upset. Due to the amount of time children and young people spend online (including developing their online profiles) it is not as easy to just turn off the computer and walk away from online/cyber bullying.

Additional information: Cyber Bullying

Physical/Verbal Bullying

Most people will, at some point in their life, experience someone calling them names or insulting them. This could be an insult relating to their appearance or weight or could involve a racist, sexist or homophobic comment that insults the person and/or their family. It is also not that uncommon to see children wrestling each other to the floor or punching each other. In some cases this is not with malice but it can often be difficult to tell the differences between the two. Persistent name calling or physical assaults can be very upsetting. If this upsets, hurts or your child feels uncomfortable about this it could be seen as bullying.

Recognising when your child is being bullied

Often children who are being bullied will act like they are fine on the outside however they may be afraid or feel stupid about taking about it (they may also worry that it may intensify the situation and make it worse). They may also start to believe what the bully tells them which will lower their self-esteem.

Watch out for signs of your child becoming withdrawn and anxious in certain situations. They may become frustrated and angry which they may take out on you or possibly other children (it is somewhat ironic that children that are bullied can often become bullies themselves).
Recognising when your child is being bullied can be incredibly difficult. Those that have managed to bottle up their emotions will ultimately break at some point. Although at the extreme end of things children can feel so isolated by bullying that they may begin to tamper with drink and drugs or develop an eating disorder.

If you’re normally out-going, happy teenager starts to appear withdrawn and not going out with friends, ask why. If they stop interacting with family or are avoiding social media, ask why. The following site may help you look out for warning signs: www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/warning-signals/

What you can do

Speak with teachers to see if they have noticed anything unusual. Keep and eye and monitor their online activity (including which websites they are most frequently visiting). Keep an open dialogue with them about the fact that nothing online is a secret. Be supportive and reliable so they feel that they have someone that cares about them and someone that they can turn to.

Foster Care Fortnight

Foster Care Fortnight 2017 is taking place from Monday 8 to Sunday 21 May.

What is Foster Care Fortnight?

Foster Care Fortnight is the UK’s biggest foster care awareness raising campaign, delivered by leading fostering charity, The Fostering Network. The campaign showcases the commitment, passion and dedication of foster carers – The Foster Care Agency are fully supporting this campaign.

There is a need to raise the awareness of at least 7,180 new foster care families required throughout the UK in the next 12 months. Carers are required to care for a range of children, with the greatest need being for foster carers for older children, sibling groups, disabled children and unaccompanied asylum seeking children.

Foster care transforms lives

The overarching theme of Foster Care Fortnight is ‘foster care transforms lives’. Like the Fostering Network, we are passionate about the difference that foster care makes to the lives of fostered children and young people, and Foster Care Fortnight is an excellent opportunity to showcase that difference. But foster care doesn’t just transform the lives of the young people who are fostered, it also has the power to change the lives of foster carers, their families and all those who are involved in fostering. Foster Care Fortnight shares the stories of people who have had their lives transformed by foster care, and by doing so to raise the profile of fostering and the need for more foster carers.

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Find out more about becoming a foster carer here.

Spread the word

One of the aims of Foster Care Fortnight is to raise the profile of fostering and the transformational power of foster care. We often find that existing foster carers are the best advert for fostering, so if you are a foster carer or are part of a fostering family please help spread the word.

Tell others your fostering story. Encourage them to find out more by visiting our website.

If you’re not a foster carer already, perhaps now is the time for you to consider becoming one.

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The hashtags used during Foster Care Fortnight 2017 are #FCF17, #ProudToFoster, #ProudToSupportFostering.

We encourage everyone to download and print off a placard, take a photo of you and/or your family and share them online using the hashtags.

Could you foster?

One of the main aims of Foster Care Fortnight is to encourage more people to consider becoming a foster carer.

Do you have the skills and qualities to be one of the thousands of people we need to come forward to foster?

Do you have the skills and qualities fostering services are looking for?

Will you be attending any local events for Foster Care Fortnight?

If Foster Care Fortnight has made you think more about how you could improve children’s lives by becoming a foster carer, register your initial enquiry here: