Foster care provides children with a safe, loving home when they can't live with their birth parents - this can be for a night or two in an emergency situation, several months or even years until they turn eighteen.
There are many different reasons why a child is taken into foster care, ranging from abuse, neglect and the sudden illness of a parent, through to a child arriving unaccompanied in the UK to seek asylum. At these times, local authorities become responsible for the wellbeing of the child and provide them with a safe and secure foster home – sometimes just overnight or for a few days, other times for weeks, months or years. How long each placement lasts depends on the child’s needs and circumstances.
As every child is unique, there are different types of foster care placements, including short-term and long-term foster care, as well as specialist fostering, such as for siblings or children with disabilities. When a child comes into foster care, the local authority will work with the birth family to help the child return home, but sadly this isn’t always possible and some children will either remain in care on a long-term basis until they reach 18 years old or be adopted.
Foster parents provide safe homes for children in need of a temporary arrangement. They’re not the legal guardians, but they have a huge responsibility – for providing safety, encouragement and security, and for acting as a role model. Quite often, these children have had traumatic experiences which sometimes present in the form of behaviour and their ability to form trusting relationships with adults.
Even if the child is only with them for a short period, foster parents play an important part in transforming their life and helping them take positive steps forward. It’s a powerful, influential and rewarding role. But it can also be extremely challenging.
Most of our foster parents tell us they become foster parents because they feel drawn to the work, enjoy having children in their lives and want to improve the life experiences for vulnerable children. The fact that they can see this transformation taking place in their homes is the reason fostering is so rewarding.
At Orange Grove, we really focus on relationships and building them up for everyone’s benefit. It’s a feature of our work and it helps children in care and families form strong bonds. We find that many of these bonds last far beyond the placement and well into later life, so fostering is truly life-changing for everyone involved.
There's also plenty of other benefits, including being able to learn new skills, using your life experiences to help others and make incredible memories as a family.
Can you Foster?
The fostering journey
The process to become a foster parent may not be as difficult as you think – we'll aim to complete your fostering assessment within 4-6 months.
We're here every step of the way to guide you through your assessment and provide you with excellent training and support, so you feel confident and prepared for your first child.
Frequently asked questions
How does fostering work?
The ultimate goal of fostering is to improve the outcomes for children, so they can go on to lead healthy, happy and fulfilling lives.
To achieve this, foster care providers, such as Orange Grove, recruit, train and reward a diverse team of passionate individuals who open their homes to children in need. And we’re always on the lookout for people interested in becoming a foster parent.
When a child enters care, they will have their needs professionally assessed and included within their personal care plan. We work closely with local authorities to find a foster parent who will be able to meet these needs and care for them for as long or as little as required.
Foster parents may care for a child for a night or two, several months or years, or even on a long-term basis until the child turns 18.
What's the difference between fostering and adoption?
There are some key differences between fostering and adoption. The main difference is around legal responsibility for the child; when you foster a child, the legal responsibility often remains with the birth parents or the local authority in some cases, however, you become the legal guardian when adopting.
Other key differences include;
- Length of time you'll care for a child - when fostering, you can care for a child for as little as a day or two, and up to 18 years until they reach independence. With adoption, you'll care for the child as you would your own birth children and they'll be part of your family forever.
- Age of children - Children who are looking to be adopted are generally younger (under 6), whereas with fostering, the young person is likely to be over 6 or in foster care with siblings.
- Allowances - foster parents receive a weekly fostering allowance to cover the cost of caring for a child and provides them with a professional fee. This financial package is not available to adoptive parents.
Do I need any experience to become a foster parent?
Previous experience with children, either in a professional or personal capacity, is beneficial but it's absolutely not essential.
Our foster parent training programme will provide you with all the skills and knowledge you need to work with children in foster care right from the get-go. Plus, you'll have your very own supervising social worker, a family support worker and regional manager by your side, offering expert guidance and ongoing support.
Got some more questions? Find out the answers here.
Can't find what you're looking for?
One of our team is available to talk to you over the phone to answer any of your fostering queries.
You can get in touch by filling out our online enquiry form with any queries that you may have.
Your local office
We have local teams covering most of England. Find your local office today.