Fostering and You

  • Who refers the children and young people to you?

    Local authorities throughout the United Kingdom refer children and young people to us. They may not be able to provide the perfect match with their own foster carers, so they approach agencies to help them find an appropriate placement for the child in question.

  • The local authority has a fostering service so why do we need independent fostering agencies?

    Sadly there are lots of children who require care, this is why such a large number of fostering services are needed. Pathway Care, like all other independent fostering agencies, provide additional foster carers for local authorities. Agencies like ours can provide specialist services and additional support to local foster carers. We work in partnership with the local authorities to provide a quality service to children and their families at times of crisis.

  • How will we be supported?

    During the assessment process, you will be allocated an Assessing Social Worker who will complete the assessment form (known as a Form F) with you. During this time, your Assessing Social Worker will support you and your family throughout. Once approved by the fostering panel, you will either team up with a named Supervising Social Worker or you may continue to be supported by your original Social Worker. Either way, you will be fully supported by highly skilled and experienced members of staff from day one.

  • How long will the assessment process take?

    On average the assessment process takes about four months although this is hugely dependent on external agencies such as the Disclosure and Barring Service or your local authority. Your Pathway Care assessing Social Worker will be on-hand throughout the process, to keep things moving and update you on your progress.

  • What training will I receive?

    Our foster carers are offered comprehensive initial and on-going training. The nature of this training differs depending on the nature of the fostering and the child's needs. For instance, vulnerable teenagers or disabled children require more specialised care so we supply you with additional training. The initial training takes place prior to your approval as a foster carer and will give you the foundations on which to build your knowledge. Our 'Skills to Foster' three day course is a compulsory programme designed to give you the basic skills needed to meet your foster child's needs. We offer extensive on-going training from our qualified training team, plus we encourage skilled foster carers to 'cascade' their knowledge to other foster carers, to find out more about our training package and what else we provide to help you in your fostering career.

  • Will I pay tax and National Insurance on my allowances?

    Our foster carers are responsible for ensuring they pay their own income tax and National Insurance contributions. Her Majesties Revenue and Customs (HMRC) staff are extremely proactive and supportive of foster carers and hold regular support 'webinars' via the internet to help you with any questions you may have. In general, there are many tax concessions for foster carers and it is vital you get assistance with this from a qualified tax adviser or the HMRC.

  • How much are foster carers paid?

    This varies depending on the number of children in your care, their ages and their needs. We know payment isn't the main motivation to foster but we also appreciate the commitment it takes to offer foster children the warmth and support of a loving home. We have many allowances, incentives and opportunities to earn additional income, have a look at your Allowances section for more information on what financial rewards and options are open to you. Our allowances are in excess of the guidelines laid down by the independent charity, The Fostering Network.

  • Will a criminal conviction stop me from becoming a foster carer?

    We look at every case individually and carry out police checks, such as DBS and Scottish Disclosure. The children and young people in our care can be extremely vulnerable and we must ensure they are placed with people who can offer them complete security and safety. If you have any queries regarding your particular circumstances, contact our friendly Pathway Care team on 0800 170 170 9.

  • Who can become a foster carer?

    Anyone aged 21 and over can enquire about becoming a foster carer, and providing you are physically fit, there is no upper age limit. Assessing your home is a big part of the fostering process, you must have at least one spare bedroom at the time of applying and your home will be assessed to ensure it is safe for a foster child.

  • Can I keep my present job and foster?

    Fostering is a big commitment, foster carers have to dedicate time to make sure the job is done right. Whether you can keep your existing job depends on your situation and differs from case to case. Here’s a few things to consider; the type of job you do, the demands it places on you, how you would manage school holidays/periods of absence from school and how flexible your working arrangements are. Whilst we fully understand everyone needs to earn an income, we hope the generous foster care allowance you receive will enable you to foster full time.

  • What is the difference between fostering and adoption?

    Fostering is regarded as a short-term arrangement, designed to help a family cope through times of stress or difficulty. The aim of the social workers and care team is to support and enable a family to be reunited. Of course, no one can ever be 100% sure how long a child or young person will need foster care. Sometimes it can be a matter of days, and sometimes it can be longer. Often this short-term period becomes a long-term placement but the child or young person remains the legal responsibility of the local authority. Adoption means the child or young person becomes a permanent member of your family and you have legal responsibility for them.

About Fostering

  • I don’t drive, will this affect my ability to foster?

    We would prefer that you drive and have access to a car but we accept that some people don't. This shouldn't affect your ability to foster, as long as you source suitable transport for things like appointments, clubs and school.

  • Will the foster children have challenging behaviour?

    Some may present challenging behaviour depending on the nature of their background. We will be told about the child or young person's behaviour at the referral stage and will share all we know with you. Occasionally, challenging behaviour only presents itself once the young person is settled and comfortable in your company. You will receive comprehensive training to help you manage situations and we’re always available to help should you need it.

  • We have pets, does that mean we can’t foster?

    About 65% of our carers have a pet of some sort, after all they're part of the family too! We assess your pets as part of your assessment, asking if they have regular vaccinations, are relaxed with human contact and won't pose a threat to a child or young person. Similarly, when we place a young person in a household with pets, we do everything we can to ensure the young person will respect your pets.

  • I smoke, does that mean I can’t foster?

    No but it will mean you are limited in the age range of children you can care for. Fostered children and young people need positive role models so we may ask that smokers do so outdoors and certainly never in your home or your car. A child or young person's care and health comes first and foremost.

  • Why does a foster child have to have their own bedroom? Why can’t they share with my child(ren)?

    It's important that foster children have a space to call their own. Many will have come from traumatic and confusing situations and need a space to just be on their own. When they move into a foster home they're living in a strange house, with new people, routines and rules. This space to call their own offers them a lot of comfort.

  • What about our own children, how will they be affected?

    Birth children adapt to this change differently. As much as it can be a nervous, confusing time, we've found most revel in their new friendships and role as a foster sibling. If you have very young children, you will have to consider how the needs of a foster child will impact on the time you have for your own children. If you have teenagers, you will need to discuss how another young person joining the family might affect them. There's lots to consider but please be assured that many of our foster carers own children are very positive about being part of a 'family that fosters'. To learn more about how fostering affects your family, go to our dedicated section of the website. Your Assessing Social Worker will get to know you and your family very well during your assessment process and will help you all prepare for fostering.

  • How long do foster children stay with foster carers?

    Children come into foster care for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes it's a temporary, emergency or long-term arrangement. Anything from one night to a whole childhood is possible depending on the type of foster carer you are. Obviously circumstances can change and a child or young person who is referred to us for long term care may only stay short-term. We can't predict the future, which is why we ask our foster carers to be flexible in their approach to their placements.

  • What are the children and young people like?

    There's no stereotypical description. We care for children and young people of all ages, genders and situations. They come from a huge range of background, with varying needs as well as social and behavioural issues. During your assessment, your Assessing Social Worker will talk with you about the skills you have and how you can best meet the needs of children and young people. It is important to remember that as a foster carer, you decide which placements to accept. Matching a child or young person with foster carers who can confidently look after them is our main objective