Fosterline Wales factsheets

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As part of the Fostering Excellence programme in Wales, we aim to build on the success of the Fosterline Wales advice line by developing an online information hub which will increase the provision of information, advice, and support.

Fosterline Wales is run by The Fostering Network 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.

Fosterline Wales factsheets complement the current telephone service by providing information on a range of topics that have been frequently asked by foster carers, social workers and other professionals.

 

Advocacy - a national approach (information for fostering services in Wales)

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: 

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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: 

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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:

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Panel

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

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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. Wales does not currently have an agreed transfer protocol. Transfer protocols guide the way in which fostering
services should manage the movement of foster carers between fostering services, although many agencies choose to use The Fostering Network transfer protocol which was adopted in England.

Download the factsheet:

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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:

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