Do I Need a Spare Room?

One of the most common questions asked when people are considering becoming foster carers is, ‘Do I need a spare room?’. The answer to that is, ‘Yes’!

There are clear National Minimum Standards* of children having their own room.

Most children in need of a foster home are at an age where they need their own space, to play or be creative without distraction. Their own room can provide a sense of security and allows children to have a dedicated place to be calm, where they can get rid of their frustrations and just be themselves. This is especially important for vulnerable children who may have experienced trauma and are having to adapt to life in a new home, with different people and routines.

Their own room can also be instrumental in helping foster children adjust to new routines, such as a consistent bedtime routine. Children that come into foster care have often never experienced clear boundaries or set routines, and it can take time to help them establish these.

The benefits of a spare room don’t stop at the foster child, there are also benefits for the foster carer and their family. If you have children of your own, a spare room will help foster children and your own children to adjust to the fostering lifestyle with minimising disruption.

If you’re interested in finding out more about what’s involved in becoming a foster carer, click here.

*For further information about Fostering Services, you can view the National Minimum Standards Regulations 2011. See section 10.6 in relation to spare rooms.

‘Tinder for Teens’ App, Yellow, Compromising Children Safety

The NSPCC has warned that new app for teenagers, Yellow, is putting young people at risk of predators.

Yellow is a free mobile phone app similar in function to dating app Tinder that allows children to connect with local people. Like Tinder, users can connect with strangers by swiping right on their profile picture if they see someone they want to connect with, or left if they are not interested. When both users mutually ‘like’ each other, they can chat by adding each other on picture-messaging service Snapchat.

But unlike dating app Tinder – which raised its minimum age to 18 after charities said predators could use it to groom children – Yellow does not have checks in place to verify ages. As such, users can override the age and parental control restrictions to sign up, meaning it is possible that adults can pose as children to access other users Snapchat and Instagram profiles.

The app has raised significant concern amongst parents and the NPSCC as it enables young people to connect with strangers with ease.

What can you do?

  • Make sure children only have people they know and trust as online contacts.
  • Remind children it’s never OK to meet someone they’ve met online in person.
  • Let children know their location and profile photo isn’t private in Yellow.

It is important to be aware of which apps and social networks children in your care are using and monitor their online activity. For help protecting children in your care from online abuse, visit www.thinkuknow.co.uk

Specialist Fostering

Foster care can be necessary for children and young people for a range of reasons, but there are some foster placements that are the result of abuse and neglect.

The most traumatised, damaged and distressed children need carers with specialist skills in order to help them firstly navigate the challenges of foster care itself and secondly deal with the results of abuse and neglect.

Other children who are already in the foster care system and who have had traumatic experiences might have found it hard to fit in a number of foster families.

Where foster care continues to break down and the young person is left without a family who can look after them, a specialist foster carer might be called upon to offer a place. Children who have experienced abuse or neglect or who’s families have been devastated by a bereavement can present specific challenges to the people looking after them.

This means that the carer often needs as much support as the foster placement, and at Children First Fostering Agency we provide this through skilled professionals who work with our foster carers and their families.

At CFFA, we carefully match the needs of foster placements to the skills and experiences of foster carers to avoid carers being overwhelmed. Specialist foster care is caring at its most challenging, but it is also caring at its most rewarding.

Children who have experienced abuse in their formative years or who have been abandoned by their biological parents are desperately in need of adults in their lives that they can trust.

To be able to offer a young person the type of stability, reliability and emotional security that they have lacked in their family home is a rare commodity.

However, the patience and care that you can put into a vulnerable young person will be rewarded by the knowledge that you will have made a significant difference to their life.

If you are considering becoming a foster carer and would like to work with Children First Fostering Agency, an organisation that values experience, insight and mentoring its carers, simply contact us on 0808 178 1144

Learning Fostering Skills

As a society, we are used to the idea that there are expert doctors, dentists, teachers or lawyers. It is less common for foster carers to be seen as experts in their field, but many have years of knowledge, experience and understanding in a vocation that presents all manner of challenges.

At Children First Fostering Agency we often see new foster carers inevitably experience a learning curve when they accept their first foster placement and the most successful caring experiences are those based on training and knowledge.

It goes without saying that most carers new to fostering bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience from their family lives and careers, but in caring there is always something new to learn.

At CFFA we provide a comprehensive training package to all new foster carers who work with us.

In a society that is constantly changing (along with the young people in it), no fostering organisation can afford for its members not to constantly add to their skills and knowledge.

If you are a new applicant with us, you will be invited on to a three day Skills to Foster course, which will equip you with the latest child protection and child safety skills.

In addition to this you will begin to learn how to deal with challenging behaviour, equality and diversity issues from highly experienced carers and the best practices they have used.

At Children First Fostering Agency we know that learning doesn’t simply take place on training courses and the most valuable learning you will do is with your foster placement, the children you care for will be your best teachers. However, to make sure you are fully supported, we offer ongoing professional development on a range of different skills and the opportunity to learn online.

Fostering is a major undertaking for anyone and the best carers have the skills and support to make a real difference in the lives of vulnerable young people. If you are considering becoming a foster carer and would like to work with Children First Fostering Agency, an organisation that values experience, insight and mentoring its carers, simply contact us on 0808 178 1144

Fostering and the whole family

One of the pre-requisites for fostering with Children First Fostering Agency is prior experience of raising children either as a parent or guardian. This means that most carers (though not all) who work with us already have families of their own.

This can be a source of immense stability and strength for both foster carers and the children they look after, especially when they are new to fostering. Fostering can also present a family with challenges as new children enter the family unit with needs and concerns of their own.

If you are parents with children of your own, you must prepare carefully before you begin your first fostering placement. Your own children will have many expectations both positive and negative about how the foster placement in their home will affect their lives.

At CFFA we believe that it is important to fully explore these feelings with them, even if at first they seem to be unrealistic or overly anxious.

If you are fostering with a partner or spouse it is also important that you explore how each other is feeling both before and during the placement.

The young person who comes to live with you and your family might well have strong feelings of abandonment or have come from a home background without stability or routine.

By welcoming them into your home you are offering the opportunity of becoming part of the warmth and stability that has often been lacking in their lives.

A family environment can be one of the most important and nurturing experiences for a young person in foster care, but in order for the placement to be successful the family’s needs also have to be addressed.

At CFFA we often see that communicating, especially when there might be challenging behaviour or unmanageable feelings from the young person in your care, your family will be able to handle whatever issues fostering presents.

If you are considering becoming a foster carer and would like to work with Children First Fostering Agency, an organisation that values experience, insight and mentoring its carers, simply contact us on 0808 178 1144

LGBT Fostering

At Children First Fostering Agency we often notice that many people wrongly assume that their sexuality will discount them from becoming an approved foster carer. In fact, it is illegal to discriminate against potential foster carers because of their sexual orientation.

It seems hard to imagine that it has only been a decade since discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples and individuals preventing them from fostering was made unlawful.

In the past decade, the contribution that LGBT carers have made to the lives of thousands of children across the UK has been immense.

In 2006 the law changed, allowing both foster or adoptive carers in an LGBT couple to appear as legal guardians on the adoption or fostering paperwork.

This change has resulted in a steady increase in LGBT foster carers; with both parents’ rights acknowledged by law, fostering has become far more viable and attractive to couples.

However, as we celebrate LGBT Adoption and Fostering Week, Children First Fostering Agency wants to reach out to couples who have considered fostering and who may be able to offer a home to a vulnerable child or teenager.

Normally, couples and individuals considering foster care for the first time have a range of questions about the kinds of qualities that are required in order to foster.

The ‘fostering mindset’ is the most important attribute that any prospective carer needs; empathy, patience, the ability to nurture and to support are all vital components of this outlook.

When children and young people enter foster care, they are vulnerable and can display challenging behaviour.

A foster carer needs to be able to offer stability and security, as they will be caring for children who’s lives have become chaotic and bewildering.

LGBT foster carers who can offer stability to young people who have experienced abandonment by other adults in their lives can make great contributions to their well being.

In a recent article in the Guardian newspaper about LGBT fostering and adoption, it was revealed that in the past decade LGBT foster carers had often been more willing to care for children with behavioural problems or other special needs.

Whilst prejudice against non heterosexual carers has declined and society has become more educated and open minded, Children First Fostering Agency still find that recruiting LGBT carers is still a challenge.

Many LGBT people are unaware that they have a legal right be considered as a candidate to foster.

In 2013 Action for Children revealed that just under a third of all LGBT people in the UK believed that they were barred from fostering or adoption on the grounds of their sexuality or gender identity.

The social workers interviewed tended to view them as more accepting, tolerant and able to see the positives in young people.

They also believed that they would be better able to support a child who felt ‘different’ (a feeling nearly every foster child experiences), with compassion and empathy.

Fostering presents many challenges to a family, however your sexuality isn’t one of them if you would like to work with CFFA! An organisation that values experience, insight and mentoring its carers, simply contact us on 0808 178 1144

Fostering February Roadshow 2016

Fostering February is a campaign aiming to raise awareness about what foster caring involves, alongside dispelling some of the myths and misconceptions which surrounds it.

No matter where you are in the country, there is someone near you making a difference to children and young people’s lives by offering them the love and everyday human needs they deserve- things which most of us take for granted.

So why couldn’t it be you? Fostering February is all about learning more about the facts and becoming properly informed on how to become a foster carer;

For example, did you know you don’t need to own your own home or be married to become a carer?

If you are thinking about life as a foster carer, the campaign takes time to answer your questions, and pushes to find out if you could make an amazing difference on a young person’s passage to adulthood.

If you think you could make a difference, come along to our information events throughout the month and ‘Talk To Us’
https://www.facebook.com/fosteringfebruary

Essentials for Prospective Foster Parents

What every prospective foster parent needs to know!

At Children First Fostering Agency we maintain that knowing and understanding the child or young person who has been placed in your care is the most essential and important part of the fostering process and it begins before the placement even starts.

Fostering relationships are like any other kind of relationship, they depend on trust, openness and the foster placement knowing that you are on their side. This is why at CFFA we make sure you know the background, circumstances and needs of the children and young people who will be placed with you.

All foster children have faced major challenges in their lives and come to foster care with specific and often complex problems. Some prospective foster carers can feel anxious or worried that the problems the foster child faces or their behaviour might be overwhelming.

At Children First Fostering Agency, we have seen in some cases, a child or young person in foster care exhibiting very extreme defiant or anti social behaviour but this is by no means all cases.

We are careful to match the child with the right foster parents with the skills and outlook to cater for their needs and we make sure that the carer knows everything about the child before the placement begins.

Prospective carers also need to know about the support that is available to them before the placement starts.

CFFA offers constant support and mentoring from our staff and from experienced fostering mentors (foster carers who have successfully completed many placements). This means that as a new foster carer, you are not stranded or alone to deal with whatever challenges might arise.

This security frees our carers up to do what they do best, care. It enables them to put their energies, commitment, emotional strength and love into a fostering relationship.

This gives the foster placement the stability and security they require.

If you are considering becoming a foster parent and would like to work with Children First Fostering Agency, an organisation that values experience, insight and mentoring its carers, simply contact us on 0808 178 1144

The Fostering Mindset

The journey towards becoming a foster carer is often a time of uncertainty; families and individuals who are exploring fostering for the first time can find themselves wondering if they have the right skills.

At the Children First Fostering Agency, we believe that fostering doesn’t require a degree in child psychology or social work, instead it relies on the types of skills and experiences that most people possess.

Adults with patience, understanding and an ability to put themselves in the shoes of a young person experiencing difficulties in their life are key.

If you have brought up children of your own or have cared for children in some capacity, you might well have the skills and experience to be a great help to other young people in need.

Being able to be consistent, reliable and to provide stability to children who may never have experienced any of these qualities is also essential.

Successful foster placements rely on a mentality, a fostering mindset that involves putting a foster child first.

Considering a child’s needs above your own might seem like common sense to many of us, simply the obvious thing to do.

For many children in need of foster care, abandonment has been a key feature of their lives and being nurtured by a reliable adult they can trust is vital.

Increasingly, we all live ever more hectic and busy lifestyles. Working life and leisure pastimes take up large portions of our days and nights.

You might need to consider what available time you have, because fostering requires a commitment to put the child first.

Potential foster parents who have the skills, the patience, empathy and available time to make a major difference to a young person’s life are vital to the care of vulnerable children across the UK.

Children First Fostering Agency does not discriminate on the grounds of marital status, gender, culture, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

If you are considering becoming a foster parent and would like to work with Children First Fostering Agency, an organisation that values experience, insight and mentoring its carers, simply contact us on 0808 178 1144