Fosterline Wales factsheets and briefing papers

As part of our Fostering Communities programme in Wales, we aim to build on the success of the Fosterline Wales advice line by developing accessible digital resources which will increase the provision of information, advice and support. As part of this support, we will produce a series of briefing papers and factsheets for the fostering community in Wales which will complement the current advice line and will cover a range of relevant and useful topics.

Fosterline Wales is run by The Fostering Network in Wales and funded by the Welsh Government. It is an independent and confidential advice line for the public on all matters related to fostering. You can call Fosterline Wales on 0800 316 7664 from 9.30am - 12.30pm Monday to Friday. Or alternatively you email us on fosterlinewales@fostering.net
 

The protocol is supported by The Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) Cymru and All Wales Heads of Children’s Services (AWHoCS).

The national approach to advocacy for children and young people in Wales, known to Children’s Services departments, was introduced as working practice as of July 2017. The national approach model places a duty on Children’s Services staff to ensure all children and young people who became looked after, post 1 July 2017, and become part of child protection procedures, are receiving a service via a care and support plan.

This factsheet defines what advocacy is and why it's important; what the 'active offer' is and the expected outcomes; and who the advocacy providers in Wales are: 

English 

Cymraeg 

Advanced Attachment 

There are various definitions of 'advanced attachment'. In this paper it is used to mean linking theory of attachment to the practice of caring for children. This link, between theory and practice, is essential to care for those who have experienced traumatic events, such as being separated from birth parents. 

This briefing paper aims to revisit the basics of attachment theory, look at its importance to the fostering task, explore the concept of blocked care, highlight why self-care is so vital and provide practical strategies grounded in attuned and responsive connections between you and the child in your care. 

Read and download the briefing paper in English and Welsh

Advocacy and young people

Foster carers have an essential role to play in enabling the voice of the child or young person to be heard. Advocacy empowers children to know their rights, to be represented and to participate in decisions about their own lives. 

This factsheet outlines what advocacy for children and young people is and the importance of your role as foster carers to enable the child OR young person’s voice to be heard.

Download the factsheet:

English

Alcohol

Alcohol plays a part in many family and social situations in the UK. For some people, alcohol is a relatively harmless part of social life. For some, alcohol causes harm to them, or may lead to them harming others. Harm could be a consequence of long term drinking patterns, or risky behaviour when drinking. For others, alcohol forms no part of their life for cultural, religious or personal reasons. Many fostered children and young people have been harmed by other people’s drinking and may be at greater risk of misusing alcohol themselves. Foster carers need to be aware of their own drinking consumption and any underlying patterns, as well as how alcohol may affect those they foster.

Download the factsheet:

English 

Allegations

Facing an allegation of abuse or neglect is something that some foster carers will, unfortunately, experience during their fostering career. Our State of the Nation 2016 report showed that a third of the carers surveyed had received an allegation. This is inevitably a distressing time for everyone involved.

This factsheet explains what an allegation is, what happens if you are subject to an allegation, and how to protect everyone in our household.

Download the factsheet:

English

Building resilience 

Without intervention, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can affect a person for life. Adults who experienced four or more ACEs as children are at higher risk of poor mental and physical health, and worse outcomes in general. Many fostered children in Wales have experienced four or more ACEs. The children who recover best from adversity are those with high levels of resilience.

This factsheet explains more about resilience, and where you can learn practical ways to boost a child’s resilience:

English

Care leavers - accommodation and support

As foster carers you may be starting to embark on supporting young people as their Pathway Plans are being developed. This factsheet will give your more information about leaving care. This factsheet summarises the housing responsibilities, in regards to care leavers, of various agencies in Wales. There is a multi-agency framework for shared responsibility amongst public bodies, that recognises the continued vulnerability of many young people beyond the age of 18.  

Download the factsheet:

English

Contact

Most children in foster care will have some degree of relationship with their birth family, even if they do not return home. This factsheet helps you prepare for your vital role in managing contact.

Download the factsheet:

English

Data protection

Keeping clear and accurate records is a key part of a foster carer’s job. Storing that information safely and securely is essential. These days, a lot of information is stored and sent electronically, quick and convenient but there are pitfalls.

This factsheet helps you understand your responsibilities in respect of keeping and sending confidential information.

Download the Data Protection factsheet:

English

Cymraeg

Exploring teenage anxiety, depression, self harm and eating disorders and an introduction to mental health first aid 

For many foster carers, the idea of supporting or intervening in a young person's mental health issue can be a challenging prospect, as there may be the worry of saying the wrong thing and making matters worse. However, with the right strategies you can approach those difficult conversations or situations and help support the young person. 

This briefing paper will provide a short introduction exploring anxiety, depression, self-harm and eating disorders in teenagers, as well an introduction to mental health first aid. This includes tips on how to recognise the signs of mental health issues in teenagers and how you can support young people in care to manage and look after their wellbeing and mental health. 

Read and download the briefing paper in English and Welsh
Fostering a child with a disability 

All looked after children face potential barriers to achieving their potential. A disabled looked after child faces a double set of barriers. For them to succeed, their foster carer needs to use assertive communication and advocacy skills to speak up for them and make sure their legal rights are understood and enforced.

This factsheet explains legal definitions and the social mobility of disability; why disabled children need fostering; the role of the foster carer and how to best engage with the child or young person's education:

English 

Fostering and Tax 

Many foster carers find it challenging and confusing to understand how fostering affects their tax and National Insurance contributions; and queries about tax is one of the most common reasons why foster carers contact Fosterline Wales. Therefore, we have developed this briefing paper specifically for foster carers to help them better understand what it means for them and their finances.

Read and download the briefing paper in English and Welsh.

Fostering in a digital world

This factsheet provides a short introduction to internet and technology use for children and young people. It provides some practical advice on things to think about when applying this knowledge to children and young people who are fostered. It is aimed at helping foster carers to develop strategies for supporting safe and appropriate internet and technology use, by highlighting some key advice and issues to be aware of. 

Download the factsheet:

English

Fostering unaccompanied asylum seeking children and young people

Children or young people who arrive in the UK seeking refugee status without their parents or carers usually come into the care of the local authority when they are first identified. As looked after children they are often placed in foster or residential care, unless a suitable family member or guardian can be identified to care for them.

These children and young people usually have complex legal, emotional, educational, faith, language, family relations, and practical needs.

This factsheet provides a definition of an unaccompanied asylum seeking child; the role of the government and local authority; the issue of trafficking and exploitation; and tips and support for foster carers:

English 

Cymraeg

The internet and the law: supporting care experienced children and young people online

This factsheet has been developed in partnership with the Children's Legal Centre Wales. It will provide foster carers with an overview of the rights of children and young people when they are using the internet and what the law says about being online. We know that the online world is an exciting place for children and young people, full of positive opportunities. Therefore, with the right advice and support, children and young people and their foster carers can make informed decisions about what they do online. 

Read and download the factsheet in English and Welsh

Keeping in Contact via Zoom and Microsoft Teams

During the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, Zoom and Microsoft Teams, along with other live video chat services, are proving hugely significant in allowing users to continue to connect with people outside their home. There are many positive aspects to using services like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, especially during lockdown and times of social distancing, such as the ability to connect for work and social interactions which has been invaluable for both adults and children.

These briefing papers will provide a short overview of each communication platform. It will explain how to use them, the benefits of being able to keep in touch in this way, the safeguarding issues that need to be addressed, along with all the security measures that can be utilised to ensure safety is paramount. 

Read and download the Zoom briefing paper in English and Welsh

Read and download the Microsoft Teams briefing paper in English and Welsh

Leaving care

By law, fostered young people leave care some time between their 16th and 18th birthdays. Planning for those in longer term care starts from age 14. Leaving care does not have to mean moving out. Young people now have the option of staying with their foster carers under When I Am Ready (Staying Put in England) or Shared Lives, as supported lodging or as a private arrangement. If they move out, it can be to their own accommodation, a hostel or back to their own family.

Download the factsheet:

English

LGBT foster carers 

Diversity of gender and sexuality should be an accepted part of everyday life and in many ways, it is best to avoid giving them too much prominence within fostering. However, unfortunately, there are still myths, prejudice, and discrimination in Wales, and this can impact on LGBT foster carers’ work.

This means a factsheet is needed to help protect against discrimination, make people aware of their rights and suggest resources for anyone involved in foster care who wants more information, support or advice about LGBT foster carers:

English 

Cymraeg

Managing online gaming and digital safety for young people in care

Gaming is increasingly popular with young people, resulting in them spending large amounts of their leisure time on games consoles and online gaming platforms, partly because it is immersive and provides freedom that young people might not otherwise feel they have. It also provides social interaction, is creative and it is, of course, fun!

This briefing paper will focus on helping foster carers be better able to devise strategies that enable the young people in their care to have all the benefits possible from online gaming consoles, tablets and mobile phones while, at the same time, managing the potential risks they pose.
 

Read and download the briefing paper in English and Welsh.

Men who foster 

Male foster carers may be the first positive male role model that a child has met. Living with male foster carers gives looked after children the chance to explore how to form trusting relationships with men and to have contact with men who understand their needs.

It is vital that these children grow up with positive images of men being fun, creative, nurturing and, above all, safe in a domestic setting. Male foster carers have an important role to play within the fostering assignment.

This factsheet explores how male foster carers can be positive role models; the gendered roles and equality issues that male foster carers may face; how to think about safer carer issues and general tips and advice for men whom foster: 

English

Cymraeg

The mental health of looked after children 

Mental health is important for all children and young people. Children who are looked after are five times more likely than other children to experience mental health problems and mental illness. 

Foster carers play a vital role in supporting or improving their mental health. This includes supporting a child to access and use mental health services and learning how best to support the child themselves.

This factsheet explains what mental health is; how to support a child's mental well being; the challenges that arise; how to best navigate mental health services; and advice and tips on how to best support a child or young person with mental health needs:

English 

Cymraeg

Pathway Plans

A pathway plan is the key plan which sets out the needs of young people who are looked after from the ages of 16. It also identifies the actions to be taken and resources to be put in place to support young people as they prepare for leaving care. 

The pathway plan provides young people with clarity and reassurance about their rights as care leavers, how their future needs will be met in preparing for any transitions they will make, and who will provide the support they need. 

This briefing paper will detail what a pathway plan should include, who should be involved, how to complete it, how often is should be reviewed and top tips for young people, foster carers and practitioners. 

Read the briefing paper in English and Welsh

Panel

The fostering panel plays a significant and recurring part in your fostering career. This factsheet covers its role in the approval process.

Download the factsheet:

English

Cymraeg

Pets

Pets are part of family life and, therefore, part of fostering. Having pets does not prevent you from fostering, in fact, they can be an asset to a foster family. However, every animal is different and your pets will be assessed as part of the process of becoming a foster carer, and indeed any ongoing assessment, taking into account factors such as their temperament and behaviour.

As pets are not mentioned in the fostering regulations or National Minimum Standards for Wales, this factsheet provides guidelines to consider if you have a pet or are thinking of getting one.

Download the factsheet:

English

Parent and child placements

A parent and child placement is a specialist fostering arrangement where a parent and their baby or young child are placed together with a fostering family. This type of fostering can be enormously rewarding for foster carers who support and mentor new parents, at the same time as ensuring the safety of the child. 

This briefing paper will provide an overview to the different types of placements, training and support for foster carers, roles and responsibilities, welfare benefits and moving on the parent and child. 

Read and download the briefing paper in English and Welsh

Relationship-based play

Children usually enter foster care following disruption in their caregiver-child relationship, and the quality of the interactions that children have experienced with their birth parents can vary considerably. Relationship-based play can be a powerful tool for foster carers, as it can strengthen relationships and offer children a platform to communicate.  

Download the factsheet:

English

Religion and foster care

Religion and belief systems play a significant, often central, role in many people’s lives. They have the potential for promoting resilience and providing an extensive support network, but there is also the possibility that they can cause tension within fostering. As a foster carer, an important thing to remember, when your religious beliefs might clash with a foster child’s, is that they have a right to choose their own religion. Or, if they are younger, their biological parents have the right to decide for them. You may not always agree, but accepting your beliefs are different and being accommodating is key to maintaining a good fostering relationship.

Download the factsheet:

English

Cymraeg

Role of the IRO

Every fostered child or young person must, by law, have a named independent reviewing officer (IRO) who, where appropriate, meets with them privately before reviews and chairs their placement review meetings. This role was strengthened in April 2016 through the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, and IROs were given new powers to check and challenge the local authority’s work. They are ‘independent’ in the sense that they are not the child’s social worker, or line managed by the same person as the children’s teams. Most, however, are employed by the local authority that placed the child or young person.

Download the Role of the IRO factsheet:

English

Cymraeg

Saying goodbye

Saying goodbye is something that every foster carer has to face at some point in their fostering career. You will experience a range of emotions. Sadness to see them go may be mixed with the pleasure of seeing them move forward in their life.

This factsheet looks at good practice and the emotional impact on you and your family.

Download the factsheet:

English

School attendance

It is a legal requirement that children and young people attend school regularly and on time. Time out of the classroom can mean they miss important lessons, even ten minutes can mean they miss the introduction to an activity and so don’t know what to do.

Poor school attendance can often lead to children and young people failing to take advantage of opportunities in later life.

Download the factsheet:

English

Secure Base

Adolescents who have the benefit of a secure base are more likely to be able to develop security, confidence, competence and resilience. The relationship with one or more caregivers, who offer a reliable base from which to explore the world and a safe haven for reassurance when there are challenges in their life, is very important to the young person. Establishing this relationship can be challenging, as it is heavily linked to attachment theory and the adolescent’s secure base. 

Download the factsheet:

English

Self-care for foster carers

This paper will provide a short overview of the important, but often overlooked need for self-care amongst foster carers. Foster carers lead busy lives and it can often feel there is not enough time in the day, but self care is vital. Living with and meeting the needs of children with adverse experiences is very demanding. Becoming a therapeutic parent and behaviour detective is not easy and, so often, the foster carers response is to try harder, to give more, and to think of their own wellbeing needs as a luxury they simply don't have time for. 

Read the paper here in English and Welsh

Special Guardianship Orders (Wales)

A Special Guardianship Order is a court order appointing a person or persons to be a child's special guardian until they reach adulthood at aged 18. An SGO retains the child's basic legal link with their birth parents but limits their parental responsibility. In addition, relatives who are kinship foster carers may want to offer more stability to the child. 

This factsheet will provide a brief overview of the Special Guardianship Order (SGO) for foster carers who are thinking about becoming a Special Guardian and its regulations in Wales.

Please note - the law, regulations and guidance in Wales differs to the law applicable in the other nations of the UK.

Read and download the factsheet in English and Welsh

St David's Day Fund

The St David’s Day fund was set up by the Welsh Government in 2017 and was specifically for children who have experienced care. The fund is to support young people who are, or have been, in local authority care to access opportunities that will lead them towards independent and successful lives. Foster carers can guide and help the children and young people in their care to find out exactly what the fund could help them with.

Download the factsheet:

English

The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014

The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 provides the legal framework for improving the wellbeing of people who need care and support, their carers, and
for transforming social services in Wales. Part 6 of the Act specifically covers looked after children and care leavers and replaces much of the Children Act 1989. The Code of Practice for Part 6 explains what the Act means for local authorities, fostering agencies and other agencies, such as health. The Fostering Services (Wales) Regulations 2003 will apply, until the 2019 Regulations are published by Welsh Government.

Download the factsheet:

English

The sons and daughters of foster carers

Fostering involves the whole family and it can have a positive impact on everyone in the household. The sons and daughters of foster carers play a vital role welcoming fostered children into their home, so it is important to recognise and respect their essential contribution to fostering.

This factsheet explains the challenges and dilemmas often faced by sons and daughters and how they cope with difficult and challenging behaviour; how social workers and fostering agencies can support sons and daughters and the key messages that are important for everyone:

English 

Cymraeg

Speech, language and communication needs

Communication is fundamental to our everyday lives, but some children struggle to develop communication skills. It is thought that many children who are looked after in the care system may have unidentified communication needs.

It is important that foster carers are aware that the children and young people in their care may have underlying and undetected communication difficulties, in addition to their emotional needs. Foster carers are best placed and have an important role in supporting and intervening early to help young children develop language.

This factsheet will help you be aware of the signs to look out for and offers a few simple strategies that can be used to support the child in your care.

Download the factsheet:

English

Cymraeg

Supporting Sibling Relationships

This briefing paper will provide an overview of sibling relationships within the wider context of family dynamics and past experiences. It will talk through some of the key issues and ways to support children in care with the relationships they have with siblings, their sense of belonging in their family, and the circumstantial issues which may affect these. 

Read and download the briefing paper in English and Welsh

Teenage brain development and mental health 

As adolescents enter puberty, there is a lot for them to contend with and many factors impact on their development. We know that teenagers change rapidly as they mature, and the impact of hormonal changes can affect their emotions and everyday routines, such as their eating and sleeping patterns.

This briefing paper will provide a short introduction to teenage brain development and mental health. It will explore what aspects of the evolving brain and cognitive processes affect development, alongside the other factors that can influence and shape how a young person matures. What mental health is, why it is important to have good mental health and some information about mental health illnesses. 

Read and download the briefing paper in English and Welsh.  

Transferring fostering services

Sometimes, foster carers want to change their agency, for a variety of reasons. Foster carers have the right to free movement between fostering agencies. However,
foster carers can only be registered with one agency at a time. If a foster carer is fostering a child or young person, that child or young person’s needs must be paramount in any decisions and in the plans for transferring to another agency. Although people often talk about transferring agency, in reality it involves applying to
a new agency and resigning from the current agency. Transfer protocols guide the way in which fostering services should manage the movement of foster carers between fostering services.

The revised Wales transfer protocol (2021) is supported by the Welsh Government and is compliant with the requirements of all Fostering Regulations (Wales) and takes into account The Fostering Network’s Foster Carers’ Charter. Find out more about the transfer protocols

Download the factsheet:

English

Universal Credit and Fostering (Wales)

Universal Credit is a means-tested benefit for people, both single and couples, of working-age, who are in or out of work, who are on a low income, to help with living costs, children, housing costs and other needs. It is one benefit, administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and it is non-taxable. Universal Credit is designed to help you get into work and do as much work as you can. 

Read the Universal Credit and fostering paper here in English and Welsh

The following paper has been put together to explain in more detail the special rules which apply to foster carers who are claiming Universal Credit. Sometimes a foster carer may experience problems with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), who administer Universal Credit, and the local job centre (via their work coach) who may not understand the special rules which apply to foster carers because fostering is such a niche area.

Read the Universal Credit and rule for foster carers paper here in English and Welsh.  

When I am Ready

When I am Ready is a Welsh Government service for 18 to 21 year olds (up to 25 if still in full-time education) who want to stay living with their former foster carer. The
foster carer must agree, and must be approved and registered as a foster carer with either their local authority or independent agency on the young person’s 18th birthday. The young person must have been in care for more than 13 weeks since their 14th birthday and must be in foster care on their 18th birthday.

Download the factsheet:

English

Cymraeg

 

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