Support & training
We will support you every step of the way with ongoing training, support and guidance. Your Supervising Social Worker will work with you and your family, and you'll also have the opportunity to get to know other foster carers, and attend regular support groups and family days if you wish (currently on hold due to the pandemic).
Practical and Emotional Support
- All foster carers are provided with their own dedicated Supervising Social Worker that will visit regularly and be available to help with any issues or difficulties that may arise. If you have an emergency or concern out of normal office hours, you can call our support line between 5pm - 11pm on weekdays, and from 8:30am - 11pm on weekends and bank holidays. The foster carer support line number is 01823 358192.
- We provide ‘Skills to foster’ preparation training as part of your assessment and there is an annual programme of ongoing training to help you build up your skills. See the training section for more details.
- Existing foster carers can be allocated as 'mentors' to individuals and families as they begin the assessment process to become foster carers themselves. 'Mentors' can also be allocated to support foster carers in other areas, such as helping them to complete their fostering plus portfolio.
- We arrange events like family fun days and coffee mornings, whilst also supporting social events so you can meet other foster carers and share experiences.
- If you need a break we may also be able to provide 'Short Stay' care to provide some respite.
- We can support foster carers in situations such as problems with a child’s school, or concerns about anything to do with their education. Your social worker can advise on this.
- You can also receive help and advice on any health concerns and health care services, and we can also provide help and advice from a psychologist if a child is having emotional difficulties, including techniques you can use to avoid and manage challenging behaviour.
- All foster carers have free membership to Foster Talk which provides legal advice, financial and tax advice, a counselling helpline called Fosterline, discounts, an online forum – plus much more.
- Somerset has a Foster Carers Association run by foster carers for foster carers. The Association aims to bring foster carers in Somerset together, providing them with a stronger voice that could influence and develop support services in the county. Carers will benefit by having opportunities to come together, sharing ideas and social networking that will develop the service for them and children in their care. Read more here.
- Somerset also has a Consultative Group of foster carers who meet quarterly to discuss service developments and issues that may be impacting on foster carers.
- Rest and Reflect (R&R) groups are for foster carers to attend once they have completed the attachment based parenting training. This is facilitated by a clinical psychologist from the Emotional Health & Wellbeing Team and a Supervising Social Worker. The group provides support, emotional support around challenging placements, or simply the opportunity to rest and reflect on experiences and placements.
Fostering Training Plan
During your assessment, and throughout your fostering career, you’ll be encouraged to undertake training to help you develop your skills as a foster carer. More information on this can be provided with our Fostering Training Plan.
Skills to Foster
During your assessment you will attend ‘Skills to Foster’ preparation training that will give you basic information on caring for a foster child. Foster carers and social workers deliver the training and it is a great opportunity to meet other people going through the assessment process.
There are two extra days training on attachment and safer caring that you should attend before your panel date.
National Induction Standards
All foster carers are supported to complete the mandatory National Induction Standards for foster carers during their first year of fostering. The training covers:
• First aid
• How to keep children safe and healthy
• How to predict and respond to certain behaviours
• How to promote education and life-long learning
• How to set boundaries
• Valuing diversity
• How to work in partnership with internal and external agencies / other professionals involved in the care of the child/young person
You receive a bonus payment on successful completion of these standards.
Continuing Professional Development
We also have an annual programme of training which includes courses on:
• Sex and relationships for young people in care (unable to run during Coronavirus pandemic)
• Caring for children who’ve experienced abuse and trauma
• Keeping safe online and on social media
Help and advice on training is available. Don’t worry if you haven’t studied for a while – we are here to support you.
A small payment is made to you when you attend training to encourage continual professional development and all travel and child care costs are covered.