Parents of Children in Foster Care
About Foster Care
When your child needs to come into foster care, it can be a difficult time for everyone in the family, but it can also have very positive outcomes. The foster carers looking after your child are doing just that...looking after your child on your behalf. They are not trying to take your place, and will want to help you and your child to get the most out of the fostering experience.
When your child comes into foster care, we try to help by giving you information about how your child will be cared for:
Arrangements for seeing you
A meeting will be arranged with you to agree plans for your child with the foster carers soon after your child is looked after by them. This plan will include arrangements for keeping in touch with you and with other people who are important to your child. You can also use the meeting to tell the carers any special information about your child, for example your child's likes and dislikes, or any important events coming up in the child's life.
Your ongoing involvement
Many decisions about your child are made in a shared way when he or she is in foster care. You should expect to be involved in important decisions about your child, whereas others (for example those relating to day to day care) may be made by the foster carer. If, for example, you wish your child to have the opportunity to follow a particular religious faith, please give details of this to the carer or social worker. Also, if there are particular foods or activities you wish your child to avoid, please also make this known as early as possible.
Wherever possible, your child will continue to attend the same school. If the carer lives a little way away from the school, this may involve your child having a taxi to school. This will be discussed, and any arrangements set up by the social services team working with you. You will have a chance to agree who will keep in touch with the school, whether it is you, or the foster carer, or (as in many cases) both.
When your child comes into foster care, a social worker will ask you to sign a consent form to allow the carer to seek emergency medical treatment for your child if this should be necessary. Any other routine treatment will be planned and will involve you.
The local authority takes very seriously the need to promote good health care for children in foster care. Early in the placement with foster carers, your child will be invited to attend a routine medical examination. It helps very much if you can be involved in this, and can supply information about your child's medical history. If your child stays in foster care for more than a couple of months, they would then be offered a comprehensive medical to make sure that all routine treatments are being offered (for example dental and eye care).
Reviewing the plans
The plans for your child will be regularly reviewed, and you will be invited to be part of the meetings to do this. If your child is old enough, they may also have opportunity to speak with an advocate, who will be able to read out your child's views to the meeting, having met with them first to discuss anything that your child feels is important. This is a helpful way of hearing from your child, especially when there may be lots of views about what is best for them.
If there are problems
Everyone involved with your child will want to sort out any problems as quickly as possible, and will be happy to discuss issues with you. On a rare occasion, if things do not get sorted to your satisfaction, you may wish to make a formal complaint. To help you with this the County Council operates a complaints process. This is explained in ‘Making a Complaint’ which is available online or you can access through the social work team.
Finally, the main aim of most fostering is to give a family a break and then work towards reuniting them as quickly and as well as possible. Carers are used to working with parents in this way, and are happy to look after your child until you are able to have them at home again. The social work team will work with you to agree when your child can come home, and the foster carers will help in this plan. (In a small number of cases, where it is not possible for your child to return home, the foster carer will look after the child until permanent plans are made.)
If you would like more information about meetings and processes we have the following online leaflets which may help you:
Child Protection Investigations A guide for parents.