When your child needs to come into foster care, it can be a difficult time for everyone in the family. This page explains what it means when your child is ‘looked after’ by the council, what foster care involves and what you can expect.
Foster Carers are single people, couples or families who make their homes available to children who are, for whatever reason, unable to live with their own families. They are not trying to take your place and will work with Social Services and with you to make sure that your child is well looked after and has their needs met. Some Foster Carers give full time care, others give part time care, known as respite, to give families a regular short break from caring. They are not Powys County Council employees.
All Foster Carers go through a thorough assessment process. This includes criminal records, medical and local authority checks as well as written references. All Foster Carers are approved under Fostering Service rules and the service they give is reviewed each year by an independent panel. They can only be Foster Carers if we are confident that they will be able to give a safe and loving home for a child.
Foster Carers are given thorough training and each Foster Carer has a Social Worker to support and advise them who visits regularly and makes sure that everything is going well. Your child’s Social Worker will also visit and make sure that your child is happy. Your child will have their own bedroom unless they are very young, or placed with a brother or sister and they prefer to share.
Foster carers are expected to give a high level of care to your child and a warm, loving and welcoming home for as long as your child stays with them. They have to share all information about your child with Social Services and cannot keep secrets or agree to keep any information that you share with them to themselves. They are expected to work with you, your child’s Social Worker and any other professionals involved in your child’s life. Decisions about how involved you are will be agreed between you and your child’s Social Worker.
The Foster Carer will be keen to help your child to settle in. You can help them by giving them lots of information about your child: their likes and dislikes, culture and religion, routines, friends, school, important events, hobbies, allergies and health.
We know how important it is for children to take some of their special toys and clothing with them to the Foster Carer’s home. Please speak with your child’s Social Worker to decide how best you can prepare your child for their move to the Foster Carer’s.
When your child comes into foster care you will be asked to sign a form giving the Foster Carer consent to seek medical treatment for your child if this is needed. You will also be asked to give as much information as possible about your child’s health and medical history – is your child taking any regular medication, or does he or she have any allergies or medical conditions that the carers need to know about? We take the health of children in foster care very seriously. Soon after your child is placed, an appointment will be arranged for a routine medical examination. Your child’s Foster Carer will also make sure that other routine appointments (dentist, hospital, opticians etc) are arranged.
Shortly after your child is placed in foster care, we’ll have a meeting to consider the plans for your child. This plan will include the arrangements for you to keep in contact. We know how important it is that you keep on having a relationship with your child, especially if the plan is that he or she returns to live with you. It may be that it will be arranged for you to speak with your child on the phone, or to spend time together regularly. This will be discussed and agreed with you when the plan is being made. It is important that you keep to the arrangements to avoid uncertainty and disappointment for your child. Contact with your child will only be limited or prevented if it is felt not to be in the best interests of your child.
This is a difficult question to answer as every situation is different. It is important that you keep in touch with your child’s Social Worker and discuss this with them. Throughout your child’s time in foster care regular meetings (reviews) are held to make sure that the plan for your child is still working and to make any changes that are needed. You and your child (if they are old enough) will be invited this meeting, along with other people (such as the Independent Reviewing Officer, Social Worker, and teacher). You will have the chance to share information about your child and hear what is planned. Your child will be able to give their opinion and may have an advocate to help them do this.
Sometimes the main aim of fostering is to give a child’s family a break from caring and the plan is to reunite them as quickly as possible. You will work with your child’s Social Worker to plan for your child’s return and the Foster Carer will help in this plan.
If it is not possible for your child to return home the Foster Carer will look after them until permanent plans are made.
If your child is staying with the Foster Carer on a part time basis (respite) the arrangements will be regularly reviewed to make sure that your child is happy and that the respite is helping everyone in the family. Respite arrangements may be given on a short term basis to support you and the family through a difficult time, or to enable you to have a break from caring and to provide your child with a short break from the family.
If you’re still unsure about something or need to speak with someone, we suggest that you get in touch your child’s Social worker first. They should be able to let you know what is happening and why.
First, talk to your child’s Social Worker and Foster Carer about any worries that you have so that they can be resolved. It’s often the little things that can become annoying and build up to cause resentment. Sometimes these things can be easily sorted out. If you do not think that matters can be sorted out in this way, you can speak directly to your child’s Social Worker’s manager.
If you wish to make a formal complaint about the care your child is being given and do not feel that it can be resolved in a less formal way, you can find out more information on how to make a complaint