Coronavirus (Covid-19) - support for foster carers

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We know that these are unsettling, unprecedented and challenging times for everyone - not least those involved in caring for and supporting children in foster care. We are extremely grateful to all those involved in fostering who provide support and stability to children and young people in foster care and we will do our utmost to play our part in this.

Across the UK government guidance is changing to respond to the pandemic, rather than reflect the changes on our website, we are linking to the latest country guidance that details government restrictions for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Guidance on local restrictions is contained within each of these links. This page lists useful resources, helplines and advice and is being regularly updated. There is a similar page for fostering services.

How The Fostering Network can help

  • During this time of uncertainty due to coronavirus, all our helplines will remain open as usual for any fostering-related queries, including those which arise as a result of coronavirus. If you need any support, advice or a listening ear, please get in touch.
  • Members can also make use of our stress support service and legal helpline.
  • If you are a foster carer with concerns or queries about coronavirus and local practice (such as contact arrangements), or its impact on your fostering because of health, then please contact your fostering service in the first instance as they know you, your family and the children in your care.
  • Our practice staff across the UK are working with fostering services to advise on best practice in these unprecedented times.
  • We are liaising with other organisations, including statutory bodies, across the UK to enable consistency of advice to fostering services, and to ensure the needs of our foster carer and fostering service members are being fed in to national decision making.
  • Our online community can also be a place to support and share advice with each other/others from the fostering community. 
  • We have created a list of useful resources for foster carers to make use of throughout the coronavirus pandemic. We would love to hear from you if you have a good suggestion for our list, please email us at media@fostering.net.  We also have a list of member discounts and offers, adapted so you can still benefit from them throughout the pandemic, available here.
     

Country specific information

England

Relevant government guidance

Briefings on Covid-19 restrictions and the fostering role

Rule of six and the three-tier system 

The rule of six and three-tier Covid local alert level system was re-introduced across England on 2 December 2020 following the national lockdown. The following briefing aims to provide clarity on the rule of six and the three-tier system in relation to the fostering role.

Read the briefing

Guidance for young care leavers

Visit Become's website for advice about coronavirus

The Department for Education, along with other government departments, has produced a series of guidance documents and factsheets to support young care leavers (aged 16 to 25) during the pandemic, which can be found on the care leaver covenant webpage

Other helplines and advice

  • There are regular updates on Department for Education’s Twitter and Facebook channels.
  • The Children's Commissioner's advice and assistance service, Help at Hand, is there for vulnerable children during the COVID-19 crisis. If there are any foster children that would like our help or you have any concerns you would like to raise with us please contact us on 0800 5280 731 (open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday) or help.team@childrenscommissioner.gov.uk.
  • The Department for Education has provided fixed-term funding to help support young people and their families most affected by coronavirus. Part of this funding is for Fosterline Plus which offers independent one to one virtual support for current foster carers (including family and friends carers) in England experiencing extreme anxiety or crisis as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The service may also be used by prospective carers who require additional support during the assessment process.

Northern Ireland

Relevant government guidance 

Other helplines and advice

Scotland 

Relevant government guidance

There has been no fostering specific coronavirus related guidance published in Scotland. Below are links to the overarching guidance and guidance relevant to children’s contact centres.  

Other helplines and advice

Information and support for children and young people

Wales 

Relevant government guidance

Other helplines and advice

Welsh Government advice: 

Senedd Research, National Assembly for Wales: https://seneddresearch.blog/2020/03/17/coronavirus-constituency-support

Care Inspectorate Wales:

Children’s Commissioner for Wales: 

   
Voices from Care:

WCVA: Voluntary Services Emergency Fund (VSEF): 

 

Social Care Wales:

  • Covid-19 information, signposting and resources to support those in the social care sector who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Wales. Visit the COVID-19 pages     Ewch i'n tudalennau gwe COVID-19
  • Social Care Wales is providing a social care worker card which allows access to priority shopping at major supermarkets in Wales. All social care workers are eligible for the card, including foster carers. Fostering services should be distributing the cards to their foster carers either virtually or digitally

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Samaritans has launched a new confidential emotional support line for NHS and social care workers, funded by the Welsh Government. Foster carers are encouraged to use it if you feel you need the support, for example, this might be if you are feeling worried, stressed or overwhelmed, or just needs to talk things through. The helpline is open frm 7am to 11pm seven days a week: 

  • English speaking number: 0800 484 0555
  • Welsh speaking number: 0808 164 2777

 

Useful resources

We are pulling together useful resources for foster families, especially during school closures. Please email media@fostering.net if you come across any great websites or resources, and please check back to this page regularly as we add new resources.

Useful resources for children and young people about covid-19

  • BBC Newsround has a useful page about the coronavirus. 
  • Our friends at Become have this page of advice for care experienced young people.
  • Read our interview with Dr Dawn Huebner who is a clinical psychologist specialising in the treatment of anxious children. Her latest book Something Bad Happened guides children and the adults who care for them through tough conversations about serious world events in the news. 
  • The BookTrust has put together this list of books for children to talk through things when times are tough.
  • The National Association of School Pyschologists in America have this page on how to speak to children about the coronavirus.
  • NSPCC Speak out, stay safe virtual assembly helps children understand what’s happening currently, why they may be feeling anxious or worried, and where to get help if they need it.
  • Oxford and Reading Universities have produced advice for parents, carers and people who work with children and young people on supporting children and young people with worries about COVID-19
  • The NHS has a great coronavirus resource HUB which includes guidance for carers and caring for SEND children.
  • Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have a webpage dedicated to coronavirus resources for parents and carers. 
  • The Scottish Government's Parent Club has a wealth of resources explaining the changes to coronavirus restrictions as well as some great indoor and outdoor activities.
  • Civic Medial Centre have published resources for if you, or your looked after child are exempt from wearing a mask including face covering exemption cards.

General Covid-19 updates from key organisations

Resources for managing wellbeing

Resources to support education 

For many families, school closures or being told to self-isolate and seeking to maintain children's education, and keep them entertained can be very daunting.  We have published a blog to help Supporting learning during periods of school closure: a guide for fostering families.

If your looked after child has been told to self-isoalte, or their school has temporarily closed, you might want some ideas and resources to continue to support learning when children are at home.  

You may also find helpful resources aimed at helping children transition back to their educational setting. 

Online safety and advice

Ideas for keeping busy and nurtured at home

Extracurricular activities

Ideas for keeping the whole family fit at home

  • Joe Wicks, the Body Coach, has his fun and child friendly workout videos saved on his Youtube Channel.
  • Cosmic kids is yoga, mindfulness and relaxation designed specially for kids aged 3+
  • Go Noodle is a fantastic Youtube Channel with themed dance along videos, including Frozen 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog! 
  • Youth Sports Trust have all of the resources from their National Sport Week at Home saved on their website. Why not give them a go in your garden or local park!