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2.1 What Happens Now I am an Approved Foster Carer


  1. Introduction
  2. Considering Caring for a Child
  3. Your Role
  4. Emergency Placements
  5. What Information do I Need when a Child is Placed
  6. What Paperwork should I Expect
  7. Looked After Review
  8. The Children's Guide

1. Introduction

Congratulations, now you have been approved as a foster carer you will be allocated a Supervising Social Worker from the Fostering Service. They will make sure you have all the information and support needed to offer the best possible placements to children and young people.

Your approval as a foster carer will be regularly reviewed, see Reviewing my Approval and Appeals.

You will also be asked to enter into a Foster Care Agreement with the Fostering Service.

2. Considering Caring for a Child

Your Supervising Social Worker will contact you or their Team Manager when they are looking for a placement for a child/young person that is in your approval category. They often call this process matching a child.

You are under no obligation to accept a child, and it is your decision whether or not to accept a placement. You need to be sure that the child/young person will be best placed with you. At the time of the request, please take into account the following factors:-

  • Your own family situation;
  • Your skills;
  • Your abilities;
  • Your family's needs;
  • Space - including the space in your family vehicle;
  • Finances;
  • The effect on family relationships;
  • Whether you need a break from fostering.

If you are unsure about any placement you must discuss this.

Wherever possible there should be a period of introductions between yourself and the child. This should involve:

  • The child/young person receiving information about you, your home and members of your family network; 
  • The child/young person having at least one overnight visit before a placement is confirmed.

Should you decide to accept the child; the child's Social Worker will contact you with further details. It may be possible to arrange a meeting between you, your Supervising Social Worker and the child's Social Worker to discuss all the issues relating to the placement before you decide to take the child. The information you receive will be useful in preparing your family to welcome the child into your home.

Some questions you may want to ask.

  1. Who is making the request? (Duty Officer, child's Social Worker?) Is the case allocated? If not, whom do you contact in future?
  2. The child's name, age, sex, ethnic origin, religion. Does the child have any special dietary, cultural or linguistic need?
  3. What is the legal status of the child?
  4. What is the family situation? Where are the child's parents and siblings?
  5. Will the parents visit? How often Is anyone not allowed to visit?
  6. Is the child in good health? Has he/she had a medical? If not, does one have to be arranged? Are there any details of any allergies, medical problems or medication the child is currently taking?
  7. Which school is the child attending? Which class? Any problems? Any need to change schools? What will the transport arrangements need to be?
  8. Any special behavioural problems or unusual habits?
  9. Are there any known risks which may affect your decision to take the child, for example, aggressive or sexualised behaviour?
  10. Who will bring the child and with what clothes and belongings?
  11. Can these details be brought with the child? If not, when can you have them?

Throughout the introduction process, you should talk to the child/young person about general information about bedtimes, meals, visitors, pocket money, school, privacy and their general high expectations about behaviour. The child should be encouraged to talk about what they expect so they can sort out any concerns before the placement starts.

3. Your Role

Will include:

  • Providing a safe and caring environment for the child/young person;
  • Supporting and meeting the health needs of the child/young person;
  • Ensure a child/young person's attendance at educational settings including nursery, school, college and any placement. Encourage them to learn and help them with their homework;
  • Contributing to life story work while a child is in placement with you;
  • Supporting and, if appropriate, facilitate contact with a child's birth family and significant others;
  • Supporting and, if appropriate, facilitating the transition between a fostering placement and an adoptive/other placement;
  • Establishing a routine, clear boundaries and an understanding of issues that impact upon the child/young person;
  • Supporting and promoting the child/young person's development so they can realize their full potential and have the best life chances.

4. Emergency Placements

In an emergency placement, there is no time for thorough preparation and a child may arrive at very short notice. However short the time, always try to have a space prepared for the child, i.e. a bed made and a drawer cleared. Sometimes children arrive without a toothbrush or pyjamas, etc., so it is as well to have a spare set for emergencies.

Children placed in an emergency are often confused and anxious, and may need a little time before they are able to respond to you and our family.

5. What Information do I Need when a Child is Placed

When you have decided to accept a child, you will be invited to a Placement Planning meeting with the Supervising Social Worker, the child/young person depending on age, family members and the child's Social Worker. A Placement Plan will be put together which will include how long the child will be staying with you, any arrangements for contact with parents, health and educational needs, likes/dislikes of the child and when the child's Social Worker will visit.

If it is not possible to hold the meeting before placement, it will be held within 72 hours of the child coming to you.

During the placement you will be invited to regular reviews and meetings, when plans will be reassessed and any necessary changes made. It is important that you attend these meetings.

In planning, it is not always possible to make accurate predictions because of unforeseen circumstances; this can apply to the length of placement. However, you will be involved at all the planning stages and be part of the decision-making team.

No information can be withheld from you without a manager's approval and this will only be in rare cases.

6. What Paperwork should I Expect

When a child is placed with you, you should receive the following:

It is important that the Placement Information Record is signed when, or before, a child is placed with your family. Otherwise the placement is illegal.

You should also have as soon as possible after placement: (usually at the 72 hour planning meeting)

  • The child's Care Plan, health plan and details of any necessary medication;
  • The health record (clinic) card for under 5's (weight record, immunisation programme, etc.);
  • Appointment cards for hospital, dentists, optician, etc. (if applicable);
  • The child's Personal Education Plan (PEP);
  • Risk assessment for each child.

Please remember that all information given to you about a child and his/her family is strictly confidential. All documents related to the child must be locked away.

When you plan a family holiday, remember a foster child cannot travel abroad without:-

  • Children and Young People's Service approval;
  • An individual passport.

Where the child is Looked After, the birth parents must give their consent to the trip and sign the passport application form.

Where the child is the subject of a Care Order, the passport form can be signed by either the birth parents or the Executive Director of Children and Young People's Service or their representative. A letter confirming that the child is in the care of the Local Authority should accompany the application.

When traveling abroad the foster carer should always have a copy of this letter in their possession.

The child's Social Worker should be given as much notice as possible of your intention to take the child out of the country for the purposes of a holiday. Failure to do so may result in a passport or permission not being given in time for your holiday

7. Looked After Review

A Looked After Review is a meeting that covers the arrangements for overseeing work for Looked After Children cared for by the local authority. These take place at certain times and you are expected to attend these meetings. See Understanding Placement Plans and Looked After Reviews.

If you are worried about these meetings discuss it with your Supervising Social Worker.

8. The Children's Guide

The child/young person should receive this when they start a placement. This guide will help children and young people understand about foster care and provide information that may be important to them. It will tell them about their rights and how they can contact people such as their Independent Reviewing Officer or Ofsted if they wish to raise a concern. You should go through the guide with the child/young person in terms they may understand.

If the child needs the Children's Guide in another format such as in another language or Makaton the Fostering Service should provide it.