#giveabook Campaign

Books are precious. They can open your eyes to endless possibilities, or take you away from the everyday, to somewhere extraordinary. Sadly, many children do not have books of their own and we want to do something about that!

Last year Chicken & Frog launched the #giveabook campaign, in partnership with Children First Fostering Agency. The Children First Fostering Agency head office is in Basildon, but they provide local support in the form of ‘carer hubs’ in Bedford, Hitchin, Manningtree and Brixton.

We were overwhelmed by people’s generosity last year, and we would love to be able to hand over even more books this Christmas. The campaign launches tomorrow, and runs up until the 15th December, so that we have time to wrap, tag and deliver the books to the team at the CFFA.

If you’d like to get involved, you can pop into the shop, call or email.

01277 230068/info@chickenandfrog.co.uk

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 Children First Fostering 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 Children First Fostering 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 CFFA family.

If you would like to know more about fostering, please call us on 08081781144 or register your interest on children-first@cffa.co.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, today we’re going to outline how a foster care assessment works in a little more detail for you.

When will your Children First 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 application 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 assessment 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 your approval. 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 information 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.

Can I foster?

Here at Children First 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 parent 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 parent. 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 parents 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 parent; 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 parent. 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.

Fostering parents and children

Fostering can sometimes work for the whole family, especially when the parents of vulnerable children themselves need help, support and guidance.

If you are considering becoming a foster carer with Children First Fostering Agency , one type of fostering you might consider involves making a stable and supportive home for a parent and child experiencing difficulties. Invariably, parents with older or grown up children have accumulated valuable life skills and experience that can be passed on to younger parents who are struggling.

The parent and child foster carer has several roles, they are responsible for the well being and care for both the parent and child, but they also have a mentoring role too. Bringing a struggling parent into your home, often a young or teenage parent with little family support, is an ideal opportunity to help them develop their child care skills.

In today’s increasingly fragmented society, the opportunities to learn about being a parent from older generations is no longer available to everybody. Instead some young and often vulnerable parents grow up unable to cope with the many challenges that babies and small children present.

Being able to help guide a young person to care for their child, support them and give them a break from the many tiring tasks of parenting is often the key to enabling a happy family to flourish in the future.

The parent and child foster carer must be as patient, skilled, resilient and resourceful as a normal foster carer and have the time and energy to devote to at least two other people.

Often both the parent and child that require foster care can exhibit difficult behaviour as they both struggle with overpowering and unmanageable feelings.

However, with time, patience, support and above all love and understanding many parents and their children begin to make real progress towards having happy, fulfilled family lives of their own.

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

Remand fostering

When a young person is charged with a crime and is awaiting a court appearance, magistrates can place them on remand.

This is not the same as a prison sentence, which can only be imposed if the person has been convicted of a crime. Instead it is an order that keeps the young person in a secure location before a trial date and means they are safe and cannot commit further offences.

Placing a young person in a remand centre or adult prison while awaiting trial is a very drastic step that courts do not take lightly; an alternative to incarceration is the use of remand fostering.

Remand fostering is specialist foster care, where the children or young people are facing a court appearance. A young person who is accused of a crime might well exhibit signs of anxiety, distress or worry and you will need to be as supportive and understanding as possible.

You might find that young people on remand who you foster have already had previous convictions, but courts will normally place young people accused of serious offences in secure accommodation.

Part of your role will be to make sure that the young person in your care attends bail hearings and meets with solicitors, many will have chaotic lifestyles and lack the organisational skills needed to comply with the court’s wishes.

In addition to this, a young person on a remand foster placement might have the opportunity to show that they can interact with society in a positive way. This will be vital if they are convicted, as it might form the basis of pre sentencing reports ordered by the court to guide the judges in their decision making.

Remand foster caring is a challenging role for any carer but it can be one of the most rewarding. A young person’s future often hinges on the type of care they receive before they face a courtroom and the right carer can have an immense impact.

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

Fostering background checks

It is a sad and unavoidable truth in Britain today that a small proportion of adults who are given positions of responsibility towards children harm them.

Many thousands of children in Britain sadly suffer physical, emotional and sexual abuse and neglect at the hands of the very people who are entrusted with their well being.

Sometimes this is their own parents and in some cases the social services are involved and fostering arrangements and adoption can be possible solutions.

In other cases, teachers, youth workers, sports coaches and a wide range of other adults with access to children have been found guilty of abuse.

One factor that comes up in many cases of reported abuse is that next to nothing was known about the abuser and their past was allowed to remain secretive.

In recent years there have been considerable changes to the way information is shared to safeguard children.

At Children First Fostering Agency, the wellbeing of children and carers is our number one priority and we use the Disclosure and Baring Service to carry out background checks on all applicants.

The DBS check lists any prior criminal convictions that a person has had and any other relevant information that a police force or social services may hold on them. It is important that you inform our fostering assessors as soon as possible if you have had a criminal conviction in the past.

Depending on the circumstances of the conviction it might not automatically mean that a fostering application would be turned down.

If you have no prior convictions and you have never had a DBS check before, it is a routine process that everyone in Britain who works with children and vulnerable adults is required to undertake.

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

What to expect when you’re applying to foster

When prospective carers are deciding whether fostering is right for them, an understanding of the application process is very important.

Fostering is both the offer of a long-term commitment to a child and it is also the offer of a secure, stable and nurturing home environment. This means it is important that foster carers who are suited to the role are selected and supported to face the many challenges that fostering will inevitably present them with.

At Children First Fostering Agency, our selection procedure is therefore very thorough, but seeks to be as inclusive as possible, making sure that people with a wide range of circumstances are considered.

During the application process you will have to complete a disclosure and baring service background check, and whilst a previous criminal conviction does not automatically prevent someone from foster caring it is important for all prospective carers to be honest and open.

Before there is any need for background checks, however, our trained fostering workers will carry out a home visit to get to know you.

Often, our social workers and fostering assessors can find out as much about your suitability to foster by having a chat and helping you to explore your own feelings and motivations in fostering.

Our selection process, here at CFFA, is designed to support prospective carers all the way through to their first foster placement; ensuring first time foster carers get the best fostering match possible helps the carers and the placement.

It is important not to feel overwhelmed or intimidated by the selection process, our assessors know that it can seem like a major undertaking and are understand your concerns and questions. Instead, view it as a first opportunity to learn more about fostering and your role as a prospective foster parent.

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

Finding support from other foster parents

The first foster placement for a newly trained carer is invariably a daunting and challenging task.

Taking a step into the unknown and inviting a child into your home who will normally be dealing with a range of overwhelming feelings requires support and help.

All foster carers, whether new to caring or not receive close support and help from us at Children First Fostering Agency, as we put carer well-being as a top priority.

However, another very effective tier of support for carers that should not be overlooked is the support they give each other.

Peer support and mentoring in foster caring is invaluable; hearing directly from another person who has experienced (and overcome) the same challenges can help to make difficult situations seem manageable.

Fostering requires a wide range of talents, from managing the mundane and the everyday (dealing with schools, bedtimes, pocket money and routines), to coping with the fears and worries that foster children invariably have.

Challenging behaviour or dealing with a child in distress can be overwhelming for even the most experienced adult to deal with on their own.

Friends and family who are not carers might be able to sympathise, but they rarely have the insight required to help because they have not experienced fostering first hand.

This is why a fostering mentor is such an invaluable resource for carers, someone who knows your situation because they have been there themselves.

Having this kind of expert help can make all the difference to carers and foster children and ensure that the placement is a success.

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