information for prospective foster carers
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2018 winner: Afia Choudhury
Afia has been a foster carer with Tower Hamlets for 13 years, looking after almost 30 children. Along with her husband, Kamuz, and her four sons, she is currently caring for a group of three children who have lived with them for the last seven years. Afia and Kamruz have extended their home so that these children can remain living with them until they become adults.
Alongside the love, care and commitment she shows to the three siblings, Afia is the chair of Tower Hamlets Foster Carers' Association and offers vital peer support to other foster carers - over the last year Afia had over 460 calls with other carers. She was also instrumental in rallying the carers and supporting them when unwarranted, negative media attention turned on Muslim foster caters in Tower Hamlets last summer. Afia is a mentor supporting new foster carers, and even when their mentoriing relationship finishes she carries on supporting when the need arises.
Afia arranges days out for children and foster families to theme parks, the seaside, sporting event and the pantomime. She is also an ambassador for Tower Hamlets and regularly supports the department in their recruitment strategies, either standing in a busy supermarket giving out leaflets or answering questions at an information session that Tower Hamlets run every month. Afia is so passionate about fostering, she wants everyone to experience the enjoyment and fulfiment that she has over the years.
Ishara Tewary, fostering team manager at Tower Hamlets, said: 'It hs been said that fostering runs through Afia's blood! She is truely an outstanding foster carer. Words cannot describe her passion and commitment to fostering. As well as providing a fantastically nurturing home to three young children who are happy, settled and achieving brilliant things in life, the fostering world also benefits so much from her passion, dedication and positivity. She is such a tremendous asset to Towet Hamlets and to fostering in general.'
2017 winner: Corinne Porter
Corinne started fostering with Greater London Fostering in 2012 when she was only 26.
Corinne, whose motivation to foster came from her own parents who were foster carers from the time that she was six, is a passionate and dedicated foster carer for sibling groups. She has a fantastic reputation with local authorities and the birth families of the children that she cares for.
Corinne is determined to keep sibling groups together where at all possible, and she prides herself on having provided a warm, loving and secure home to the seven sibling groups that she has cared for so far. When children come into Corinne’s care she is quickly able to build a relationship with them, identify their individual needs, and do everything in her power to develop their strengths. When children have moved on, either to adoption or to return to their birth families, they leave with a new set of skills and positive behaviours, as well as cherished memories.
Corinne’s commitment to keeping brothers and sisters together was best demonstrated when a sibling group of three who she had looked after previously needed to return to foster care. The children begged their social worker to be able to move back in with Corinne, who understood the importance of stability for these children and gladly welcomed them back into their home, despite the fact that she was caring for another sibling group already. With the support from her robust support network, Corinne was able to provide care to all five children with her usual mix of patience, energy, love, and fun.
Corinne’s supervising social worker, Imani Bartholomew, who nominated her said: ‘I think Corinne is an exemplary foster carer, she is committed to her own learning, attends so much training and is always available to support other foster carers. She has done fantastic work with sibling groups, with her positive "can do" attitude meaning that brothers and sisters have been able to stay together.’
2016 winners: Claire, Mike and Becci Eynon and Charmaine Barber
Clare and Mike Eynon are exceptional foster carers who have demonstrated commitment and perseverance, alongside an enormous capacity to love and care. The Eynons have been fostering for six years with the Children’s Family Trust and, along with their 10-year-old daughter Becci, and have provided outstanding and consistent care which has meant that the children and young people they have looked after have gone from strength to strength.
The Eynons currently have two young children placed with them on a long-term basis, and they also provide regular parent and child placements, allowing young parents to have an opportunity to care for their children and to develop their skills in a warm, non-critical and supportive family environment. They do this so well that several local authorities specifically request placements with them.
The family’s most challenging time came during their first mother and baby placement, Charmaine and Ajay. Ajay was profoundly disabled, and Charmaine was struggling to look after him. With the help of the whole Eynon family, Charmaine developed an amazing relationship with Ajay and was able to begin thinking about moving out to a place of her own. Tragically, before this could happen, Ajay was diagnosed with a terminal illness and sadly he died at age three.
Charmaine and the Eynons were devastated. But through their grief Clare, Mike and Becci continued to support, love and offer guidance to Charmaine who, they say, will always be a big part of their family. Although she now loves independently, Charmaine is in regular touch with the Eynons and spends family occasions, such as Christmas, with them.
Kevin Williams, chief executive at The Fostering Network, said: ‘We are delighted to be giving the Eynon family and Charmaine the President’s Award. They have overcome so much together and they are a fantastic example of how foster care changes lives.’
2016 Winner: Zoe Witherington
Zoe Witherington first became involved with The Fostering Network in 2013 to support our Don’t Move Me campaign. During the campaign Zoe, between her studies, campaigned hard appearing in newspapers, on television, and on radio right across England sharing her story in the hope of creating a more positive future for other children and young people.
Our mythbuster films include:
- Single people can't foster
- LGBT people can't foster
- Under 30s can't foster
- and much more.
Click on the drop-down button at the top left of the video to choose a film to watch.
Foster carers are approved rather than employed by their fostering service, and this status has a particular effect on means-tested benefits. In the main, fostering payments when a child is placed with a foster carer are disregarded when calculating welfare benefits. Alternatively, foster carers may be able to claim Working Tax Credit because fostering is regarded as ‘work’ by HMRC when they have a child in placement.
Foster carers are treated as self-employed for tax purposes. There is a specific tax scheme foster carers can use called qualifying care relief. The scheme calculates a tax threshold unique to the fostering household which determines if a foster carer has to pay any tax from their fostering.
Working with ‘the team around the child’
Foster carers are part of what’s often termed ‘the team around the child’ which is responsible for the wellbeing and development of a fostered child. This team includes the foster carer, their supervising social worker, the child’s birth family and the child’s social worker, as well as a number of other people, such as education and health professionals, depending on the child’s specific needs.
Why are sons and daughters so important?
Becoming a foster carer will have a huge impact on everyone living at home and everyone in the household needs to be committed to fostering.
The whole family will be involved in the decision to foster and the assessment process, and training is available for sons and daughters of foster carers. Many fostering services have their own support groups and provide sons and daughters with training and advice.
Why is it important to keep records?
A review of foster carers’ approval must take place not more than a year after approval, and thereafter whenever the fostering service provider considers it necessary, but at intervals of not more than a year.
In Scotland, reviews must be held within 12 months of the day of approval, within three years of the previous review and also where the agency considers that a review of the foster carer’s approval is necessary or appropriate to safeguard the welfare of any child who has been placed with that carer.
- 55,200 children were living with foster families on 31 March 2018.
- This is nearly four-fifths (78%) of the 70,720 children in care looked after away from home.