Every child deserves a decent start in life, and to be given the guidance, confidence and love they need to fulfil their potential. But far too many don’t have that opportunity.
By being a foster carer here in Reading, you could make a difference to a local child that will last a lifetime. In return, we’ll provide all the support and mentoring you’ll need.
We urgently need to recruit many more foster carers locally – and from all walks of life. We offer a range of options to fit in with carers’ other commitments. It might just be for a day or two. A few months or a year perhaps. It could be for much longer… whatever works best for you.
You’ll need to be over 21 and have a spare bedroom, but your marital status and gender are irrelevant. You certainly don’t need to own your own home either and you can work alongside fostering. It’s what you can offer a child that matters to us.
What is the role of a foster carer?
Every child is an individual, and foster carers are there to respect and nurture that individuality – providing a stable, secure, supportive environment at what can often be a difficult time in a young person’s life.
Their self-esteem may well have been eroded, and they will look to their foster carer to rebuild their confidence in themselves and in others around them, to demonstrate clear values and help them acquire the social and life skills they need as a firm foundation for adulthood.
In short, they will need someone they can trust and believe in. Could that be you?
What happens if you apply to be a foster carer?
Make your first, informal call and we’ll tell you more about the role and ask you a few questions. The assessment process that follows will give you plenty of time to feel confident about taking on the role.
However far your application progresses, you are never under any obligation to continue if your situation changes, you have doubts, or you feel it best to delay the process.
Should you progress to being accepted as a foster carer, we will carefully match you to a child or children reflecting your experience. You will never be asked to take on a role unless you feel confident to do so – and our team is always there to support you should you need advice or have concerns.
In addition, if you are a carer with Reading, you receive the continuing training and mentoring you need to be the very best at what you do.
If you already foster with an independent fostering agency (IFA) or another agency or service, our team can talk to you about caring with us.
What are the different types of fostering?
Foster care is about matching the needs of both carer and child, and many carers need to fit in additional commitments, such as work, study or care for other members of their family. Because of that, we have developed a range of options:
- Respite fostering – providing a few days’ care to give a child’s family a short break.
- Emergency fostering – providing care, often at very short notice, for a brief period of time – for one night up to 6 days.
- Short-term fostering – regular stays of anything between a few days, weeks, months or occasionally over a year.
- Long-term fostering – permanent care for a young person until they reach 18.
- Supported lodgings – specifically caring for young people of 16 and over.
- Short breaks - providing short breaks for children with physical or learning disabilities.
- Parent & Child – mentoring and assessing a mother or father with their child in your own home.
Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (under 18 if disabled) is cared for by someone who is not their parent or a 'close relative'. This is a private arrangement made between a parent and a carer, for 28 days or more. If you are currently private fostering or thinking of entering a private fostering arrangement, you need to notify your local authority. Find out more about Private fostering.
Friends and family fostering
Friends and Family fostering is when a child cannot be cared for by their parent or other person with Parental Responsibility and is in the care of the local authority. We have a duty to explore whether the child can be cared for by a family member including grandparents, siblings, or aunts and uncles, or a family friend. If a potential Family and friends carer is identified, they are assessed and approved as foster carers before the child is placed with them. The person with whom the child is placed would then be considered a family and friends foster carer. To find out more about Friends and family fostering, please read our Reading Borough Council Family and Friends Care Policy.
In exceptional circumstances, the LA can temporarily approve a family member or friend as a foster carer for a time limited period, while the child is placed with them and the fostering assessment is being completed. For this to happen, we must be satisfied that the proposed placement is the most appropriate for the child and that is it not possible to fulfil all the fostering requirements of the 2011 Regulations in approving the identified family and friend carer(connected person)as a LA foster carer before placing the child. A Viability Assessment is undertaken before children are placed temporarily with foster carers. Find out more about temporary approval assessment.
A Special Guardianship Order (SGO) is an order of the court under the Children Act 1989 which grants the holder(s) parental responsibility for a child until they reach the age of 18. This enables the special guardian(s) to make decisions on behalf of the child, for example in relation to their education. Find out more about special guardianship.
What support will I receive?
Foster with Reading and you will never be alone. We recognise the value of our carers with a package which reflect this. Our fees can be as much as £425 per week or £22,000 a year. This is in addition to a tax-free allowance for each child to cover expenses of between £150 and £260 per week. We also offer retainers for our carers when they do not have a child in placement.
We also offer a great package of training and support and our team are always on hand to offer sympathetic mentoring and expert advice.
You’ll also discover that you’re part of a fantastic network of fellow carers who are always there to give you the benefit of their experience.
Transferring for an IFA
All approved foster carers have the freedom to change the fostering agency they work with, as we appreciate carer’s situations can change.
These rights are enshrined in the Transfer of Foster Carers Protocol which was created to help carers who wanted to change by providing guidelines that need to be followed when a foster carer wishes to transfer between agencies.
As you would expect, the ‘Protocol’ has different procedures depending on whether you have a child in placement or not and with Reading, the first step is for one of our social workers to come and visit you at home to discuss your situation and explain the process. The process following the initial visit may vary on an individual basis, but be assured we will work with you at all times to ensure we make the process as seamless as possible, which is particularly important if you already have a child in placement.
If you would like to know more, call us on 0118 469 3020 or complete our online form and we will get back to you.
We have a number of events where you can come long and chat to one of our team about fostering and your family. The dates of the events are as listed on our events page. These are updated regularly, so keep an eye on our website for updates.
Enquire about fostering
If you would like to know more about fostering, then why not make the next move and give us a call on 0118 469 3020 or fill out an online form. You have nothing to lose, but it might be one of the very best decisions you ever make. You’ll never know if you don't make that call…