What becoming a foster carer involves, and how you can express interest in fostering.
What is fostering?
Fostering is a way to offer children and young people a safe, nurturing home while their own parents are unable to look after them. This is often a short-term arrangement lasting a few weeks, but can sometimes be in place for a longer term.
We aim to return children to their parents or birth families as soon as possible. If this is not possible, foster carers would continue to care for the child until long-term plans are made. This may include adoption or a permanent fostering placement – sometimes children remain with the original foster carer.
Types of fostering
Short-term foster care
If a child is unable to remain with their own family, they will need to be looked after. We work with short-term foster carers to enable the child to return to their birth family, or to settle them with either a long-term foster family or adoptive family.
Short-term foster care can last from a few days to several months, occasionally longer. If a child has spent a long time with a short-term foster care family and is unable to return to their birth family, carers may want to care for the child permanently.
We arrange short-term foster care for children of all ages. If a group of siblings need looked after, we try our best to keep the group together in foster care.
Long-term foster care
If a child is already accommodated and can't return to their birth family, or if adoption isn't an option, we would look for a long-term foster carer. Children who need long-term foster care vary in age. However, most permanent foster placements are children over age 8 and tend to be in regular contact with their birth families.
Short break foster care
Short break fostering describes a few kinds of part-time care, ranging from every weekend to once a month. The reason for this could be:
- families who do not have a strong support system, but can continue to bring up their own child if they know they can have a regular break once or twice a month
- existing foster carers who require breaks (for instance a family wedding), or regular planned breaks, such as a week away with their own children during school holidays
Short break carers may also look after a child with significant disabilities, to have new experiences whilst their family have a break from their caring role.
We provide full and ongoing training and support to carers to make sure they are confident in supporting the child with their disability. Usually, we match carers for children with disabilities with one or two families to provide once a month care over a weekend. We try to make sure that this arrangement is consistent. This lets the carer, the family and the child build good relationships.
Enhanced foster care
Children who need enhanced foster care are usually older. They may have experienced varying degrees of neglect, abuse and disruption. It’s likely some of the children may have lived in residential care. As a result, they can sometimes have a higher level of social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. These children need carers who can manage challenging behaviour and who can provide a safe home environment with security, clear boundaries, advice and guidance.
The assessment process
After we have received your enquiry form, we’ll contact you by phone to discuss your enquiry. Following this, we’ll arrange a home visit – this may be a virtual visit, depending on current COVID-19 restrictions. After this, we’ll invite you to attend our skills to foster course.
Skills to Foster
This course is designed to enhance your existing caring and communications skills. We share our experiences and discuss the needs of children who have been accommodated, to understand how a child's life experiences may affect their future development. Our course promotes the additional needs of a child who has been looked after, which may differ from your own experiences.
Taking part in the Skills to Foster course gives you and our team the chance to decide if fostering is right for you and your family at this time.
A supervising social worker will visit you at home on a regular basis to gain a greater understanding of you and your family's suitability to foster.
The social worker will assess the skills and experience you would bring as a foster carer, and highlight any areas where you may need extra support or training. We try to make sure that the assessment is completed within six months.
We’ll work with you to write a report to share with the Fostering Panel. You can read it – apart from third party information – before it’s sent to the Panel. You’ll be invited to attend a meeting with the. The panel will make a recommendation on your suitability to be approved as a foster carer.
As a registered fostering agency, we’re required to undertake several statutory checks on potential and current foster carers:
Protection of vulnerable groups (PVG)
All prospective foster carers are required to undergo a PVG check. This check will highlight if the applicant has any criminal convictions. You should let us know at the start of your application process if you have been convicted of a criminal offence. If you have, it may still be possible for you to become a foster carer – this will be discussed with you on a case-by-case basis.
A PVG check is carried out every two years for all foster carers. Anyone over age 16 who lives with you in your home with also need a PVG check done.
We do not discriminate on the grounds of ill health or disability. However, we are aware that fostering can be demanding and a disability or serious health problem may impact on your ability to care for a child or young person. Any health problems or disability would be considered sympathetically by our medical adviser and your social worker. However, this may lead to restrictions of the age group, number and type of child that you may be considered suitable to care for. We’ll ask you to have a full medical assessment carried out by your own GP. We’ll also contact your local health visitor to ask if they have any opinion on your ability to care for a child. This check is repeated every five years, or more regularly if required.
Local authority checks
We’ll check any records held by our social care department. If you’ve lived in another local authority area since age 16, we’ll also check their records.
Employment history and employer’s reference
You’ll need to tell us your full employment history. We’ll request a written reference from your current, or most recent, employer.
Previous partners, older and adult children
If you’ve been in a previous long-term relationship, we’ll try to contact your former partner. If any children were involved in the relationship, we’ll also try to contact them. If you have any concerns, please tell us when we discuss your application.
We’ll ask you to provide a list of six potential referees covering various stages of your life – two may be from relatives. Referees will be asked to provide a written reference, some may also be visited.
Supervising social worker
Every foster carer will have their own supervising social worker who will be experienced in working with children and young people. They can provide help and support to you, and will work alongside the child's social worker. Your supervising social worker can also attend meetings (such as childcare reviews) with you and can help you to write reports that you might be asked for. They will also keep in regular contact with you by phone.
Out of hours support
The Council has an emergency duty team that works in the evenings and at weekends. You can phone them for support if you need it.
Support from health professionals
NHS Forth Valley nurses provide dedicated support for looked after and accommodated children and young people and their carers. The nurse can be a valuable source of support for all health issues.
We provide training and professional development for all foster carers to help them carry out their fostering tasks. You’ll be offered training throughout your time as a foster carer.
Foster carers receive a weekly rate which depends on the age of the child:
|Child's age||Weekly allowance|
Carers will receive a fostering fee of £177.64 per week.
Short breaks fees
The allowance follows the child. This means that if a child moves to a short break placement, the short break carer receives the allowance, not the full-time foster carer. Both full-time and short break carers will continue to receive allowances for the day the child leaves and returns to their full time placement.
All carers are entitled to 28 days holiday. Foster carers will be entitled to full payment of fees for the 28-day holiday period. They will not receive the allowance – this will be paid to the short break carer.
Foster carers who do not take their full 28-day holiday entitlement (for example, they take a child on holiday with them) may claim additional fee payment for to up to 14 days.
Carers will receive additional payments for the child’s birthday, Christmas and summer holidays and the Service will support the purchase of equipment, as required.
Our payment rates for post-placement retainers are as follows.
|When placement ended||Retainer|
After 3 months
1 weekly fee (£177.64)
After 6 months
2 weekly fees (£355.28)
After 9 months
4 weekly fees (£710.56)
After 12 months
6 weekly fees (£1,065.84)
We pay mileage allowance to carers when they are travelling on Stirling Council business, such as to attend a meeting.
How to get more information and arrange a meeting
If you need more information or are interested in becoming a foster carer, complete the request form. We’ll call you back during office hours to discuss your enquiry.
If a child under school leaving age is being looked after for more than 28 days by someone who is not a parent, guardian, close relative or approved foster carer, the Council's Social Work service must be informed as this would be considered a private fostering arrangement.