Frequently asked questions
Q: What is Fostering?
Fostering is offering a safe, stable home to a child or teenager when their own family are unable to.
Children in care, also called Children Looked After, may have complex circumstances. They need enthusiastic, resilient and supportive Foster Carers or Foster Families to be there for them. Foster carers encourage them to fulfil their potential, and nurture them with love and patience.
Q: Why do children come in to care?
Children come in to care when their birth family are unable to care for them. That could be because of family illness, a family crisis or because they are at risk of abuse or neglect, but the aim is always to return the child to their birth family if it’s safe to do so. This could take a matter of days, months or years.
Those who cannot return home will be considered for long-term fostering.
These vulnerable children may not have had the same chances as other children, largely due to neglect or abuse. They may be behind their peers in terms of emotional, educational and social development.
Some children have specific learning and physical disabilities or health problems.
Q: Are new foster carers always needed, or do you only recruit at certain times?
We recruit 52 weeks of the year. We always need more foster carers, in fact, we urgently need more foster carers.
There are over 500 children and young people in care across Somerset, and roughly 200 Somerset County Council foster carers, so there are currently not enough in-house carers to meet demand. A bigger pool of foster carers also means more opportunity to match appropriate children and families, so there will always be a need to continue recruiting.
Q: How old are the children in need of foster homes?
We need foster carers for children of all ages, from babies to 18, and even up to 21 years old for Stepping Stones. However when it comes to placing children, we will always look to match a child to your family.
However we do particularly need foster homes for
- teenagers, and children aged 10 and over
- children who need a long-term foster home
A long-term placement is when a foster carer offers a home to a child or children, who are unlikely to return to their family and need a permanent family to grow up in.
Q: What happens when I fill out the contact form?
By filling out our contact form you are expressing your interest in finding out more about fostering. It might be that you are ready to start your fostering journey, want to find out more about the application and assessment process, or want to know what we offer our Foster Carers for their vital work. You are under no obligation to continue if you decide it is not for you.
Q: Who can foster?
People from all walks of life can apply to foster – It doesn’t matter if you are single, married, in a same sex relationship, own or rent your home, have children of your own, or not.
A spare room in your home, enthusiasm, a willingness to learn, and bucket loads of patience are a must though!
Find out the requirements to foster and more details on our dedicated page, here.
Q: Do I need any qualifications to foster?
You don’t – and we offer high-quality training that comes recommended by our Foster Carers. You will attend a Skills To Foster course which takes you through all the essential skills and knowledge you need to foster. We will financially support you to attend further training which will help you progress your fostering career once you’ve begun.
Q: What happens when I start my first placement, will there be anyone to help me?
You will get a supervising social worker who will keep a regular contact with you and visit you monthly to make sure you, your children, and the children or young people you are caring for are all doing well. The Emergency Duty Team is also available outside office hours. There are regular support groups and a newly-established Somerset Foster Care Association, run by foster carers for foster carers, which is free to join for peer support, mentoring, and to give your professional feedback to the Fostering Team.
Q: Do foster carers get paid?
All foster carers, once approved by the Foster Panel, receive a weekly fostering allowance to cover day-to-day expenses, and a fee payment which increases dependent on your skills, experience and learning, This pay and progression scheme also provides additional rewards for carers who are able to care for a second or third child – for example: sibling groups, helping brothers and sisters stay together. There are additional allowances to help you organise holiday trips and birthdays, and we pay retainers for our specialist schemes, which provide an income between placements where carers are required to be home-based. We also provide financial support for foster carers attending training courses. For info on fees and allowances click here.
Q: I’m interested in becoming a foster carer, what do I do now?
Fill out our simple enquiry form here, and a member of our friendly fostering team will get back to you shortly. We will then contact you and chat with you in more detail about the process of becoming a foster carer. Or you can phone us for a confidential chat on 0800 587 9900.
Q: I still have more questions…
This website has lots of useful information, from the different types of fostering you might be able to do, to available resources, which you can find under the different tabs. That said, we would love to talk to you more about fostering and help answer any questions you may have. You're not committing to anything by getting in touch, lots of people would just like to know more about fostering for the future, so please do contact us and we'll be happy to help. You can do so by calling our friendly team on 0800 587 9900, by completing the form here, or through our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts.
You can view a range of helpful stories, blogs and videos on fostering here
Q. Can I foster if I smoke?
Foster carers who smoke are able to foster children over the age of five. It’s important that foster carers are a positive role model for the children they care for, so we would ask that you smoke outside and discourage the children you care for from smoking.
Q. How do I find out about adoption?
For enquiries and information on adoption in Somerset, please contact the visit the visit the Adopt South West website, or you can call 0345 155 1076 or email firstname.lastname@example.org