What is Link Foster Care?
A link carer is committed to building a relationship with a child in, or coming out of, residential care, similar to that of an extended family member. The child does not live with you full time, but will see you regularly by coming over for dinner, joining you for days out, and occasionally sleeping over at your home, to support them in preparation for living in a family home.
The link foster carer scheme aims to support children to:
Build natural relationships.
Develop an understanding of positive family environments.
Prepare a child to move to long term, permanent carers.
What is the role of a Link Carer?
Link carers specifically support and care of children from residential settings, where their care plan is to step-down to a family environment or into fostering. It is designed around a family model of care, where natural relationships can be built, supported and sustained. The scheme requires link foster carers to be an integral part of a child’s life, and in many respects simulating a close relative or significant adult who has a vested interest into a child’s life, development, wellbeing, and progression.
A link foster carer may support an individual child, or a number of children, depending on your circumstances. What matters most is that you have time to commit to the child or children that you are supporting.
Being a link carer you will:
- Work to offer a natural family environment for children, helping children to adjust to family life and prepare for long term fostering.
- Work with social workers, residential staff, and other professionals to plan, review and adapt plans to ensure good transitions for children moving from residential settings.
- Will remain closely linked to the child’s long-term carer, offering support, advice, and overnight stays when needed and agreed.
- Be active in the child’s life, as a natural extended family member. Link Foster Carers continue to be ‘significant adults’ in the child’s life and offer support as long as this is needed.
Link carers receive a weekly retainer payment of £100 per child they support, plus the child rate allowance based on a day or half day payment (dependant on your experience as a carer).
For example, a link foster carer supporting a 14 year old child who comes for dinner once per week and visited two weekends per month (Saturday morning until Sunday tea-time) would receive:
A weekly retainer of £100 per week.
A weekly half day payment of £14.93 (dinner once a week)
2 x weekend day and a half payments of £44.79 (for the 2 weekends a month the child stays over)
Total £549.30 per month, based on a 4 week month.
Who can be a Link Carer?
Being a link carer is a really versatile role within fostering, which may suit a wide range of people including:
- Someone who has experience of working with older children and young people, and is passionate about supporting them.
- Someone who cannot currently commit to being a full-time foster carer, but is considering a full time fostering role in the future and would like to support a child in care.
- An existing foster carer, who cannot have another child in their care full time but would be committed to supporting another child.
- An existing foster carer who would like to take a ‘step back’ from providing full-time care but could continue to support a child in care.
- Someone who has experience of supporting children in care, such as an independent visitor or support worker.
Link carers do not have to live in Somerset, and may live in neighbouring Local Authorities, as we have children in care who live outside of Somerset who would also benefit from the support of having a link foster carer.
The most important thing is that you are committed; can work as part of the team around the child (especially with their main carer or residential home), and show a high level of empathy, compassion and care.