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What is a foster carer?

Foster carers look after other people’s children when they are unable to remain with their own families.

  • Foster care provides a safe, secure and stable environment. Foster carers will work with you, your family and your local authority to help you to be happy and healthy.
  • Foster carers are required to provide care to children and young people for a few days, weeks, months or even years depending on their needs. 
  • Sometimes emergency placements are required. These require carers who feel skilled to meet the needs of a child or young person who requires a placement due to unforeseen circumstances.

You will normally be placed with a Kent County Council foster carer unless there are particular reasons why this is not possible or it has been assessed that residential care would better meet your needs.

 

What about my brothers and sisters?

  • Your local authority is committed to making every effort to place brothers and sisters together where possible. However, sometimes this is not possible as it is not best for a child’s needs.
  • If siblings cannot be placed together, the reasons will be recorded together with any actions that are necessary to promote contact or resolve the difficulties. 
  • Brothers and sisters, if not together, must know about one another. If it is best for the children they should have contact to maintain their relationship. Carers and prospective adopters are expected to appreciate the importance of this.

 

Will I have to move far?

  • Every effort will be made to place you close to your home and community. Where this is not possible or appropriate, the reasons will be recorded.

 

Will I have my own room?

  • You are entitled to a bedroom on your own if over the age of 2
  • You can choose to share with a same sex sibling or other child of a similar age. Where children choose to share bedrooms, there must be formal agreement first.
  • Children under the age of 2 may need to sleep in the same room as their carers
  • With Parent and Child placements, the child may share a bedroom with their parent unless it is decided it is not best for the child

 

There are many types of foster care:

  • Many children in Kent are in short term placements, sometimes for only a few weeks or a few months, while a family issue is resolved
  • Long-term foster care provides stability for children unable to return to their own families
  • Foster care of babies very young children.
  • Day foster care
  • Special needs foster care
  • Respite foster care gives children and their families or carers a short break.
  • Parent and child foster care
  • 16Plus care provides supportive lodgings for young people leaving care.
  • Residential care. You may go to live in a children’s home, particularly if you’re a teenager when you first become looked after. Sometimes a young person doesn’t get on well with foster care, perhaps because they are deeply attached to their own family and don’t want a new family. Or it may be because they have very challenging behaviour (for example, being violent because they find it really hard to control anger) which foster carers have found difficult to cope with.
  • There are also specialist schemes providing care for vulnerable children and young people.

 

What should I expect? What is a Care Plan?

When you’re looked after, whether you’re on a care order or accommodated, you will have something called a care plan. This is a set of written instructions saying how you will be cared for, where you will live, who will look after you and when and how often you should see your family.

A lot of work by a lot of people goes into your care plan, and the plan will be looked at regularly to make sure it’s working for you and to change anything that needs to be changed. This happens at meetings called ‘case reviews’.

No changes can be made to your care plan until they have been discussed at a case review, which is good for you because it means that any changes are agreed by a group of people – including you!

You will be given a copy of your care plan. It might seem very long and complicated, particularly if you are younger or have learning difficulties, so you might want to ask your carer to go through it with you to help you understand it.

When your care plan is being made your social worker should find out the wishes and feelings of you and your parents, and anyone else who has parental responsibility for you. Your social worker will also talk to people like your doctor and teacher to see how you are getting on. Your social worker should tell you who they are going to talk to.

The information your social worker gets will be used to work out exactly what you need while you are looked after. This will be written down in your care plan.

Also written in your care plan will be the times when certain things should be done.

The plan ought to be written before you go to live in a new place, or if that’s not possible, within 10 days of living in the new place.

 

Other things you may want to know:

Your carer will make sure you go to school and will be there to help you with homework, getting you books and uniform and all the other things you need for school. They will attend your parent/teacher conferences (meetings that happen once a term where your teachers say how they think you are doing and discuss anything that needs to change to make sure you can do well in your education). They and your social worker will do everything they can to make sure that being in care doesn’t mean you have to change school, and the government has introduced a law which says that you can’t move school when you’re in year 10 as that could affect your GCSEs.

You should have a say in the food you eat, and be able to help shop for and help make your own meals. If there’s anything you cannot eat because of your religion or health, you won’t have to. Any special food you need will be given to you. If you’re in children’s home, there will be set meal times when people eat together.

You will be given some pocket money to spend on whatever you want.

Your carers will be given money for your clothes and the other things you need, which you should be allowed to choose. They are also given some money to buy you presents for your birthday and other special occasions, depending on your culture.

Your carers will help you with your hobbies and interests. They should help you plan and celebrate birthdays, name days and other festivals. You should be allowed to have your friends round for tea, and to go to their homes. Your carer will decide if you can stay overnight at friends’ houses (just like a parent would).

You are allowed to bring your own toys and personal things into your new home, which is important because having your own familiar stuff around can help to make a new place feel more like home.

If you are at school your carer will buy all the things you need, like books, pens and pencils. Your carer will make sure you have a school uniform.

Your carer will pay for you to do activities like dance classes and football. If you were doing these before, they will help you to keep them up.

Your carer must make sure that you go to a dentist, doctor or nurse when you need to. If you have any questions or worries about your health – and this includes problems with your mental health, like feeling depressed or harming yourself, or feeling like you need to take drugs or drink alcohol to be happy or to forget about bad stuff – then you must talk to your carer so that they can help you

Your carer can sign forms for you to go on outings with the school, if it is for a day. They cannot sign forms for medical things - these must be signed by a social worker. If you live more than three miles from the school, you are entitled to a bus pass.

Your carer should listen to your feelings and what you want, and try to help.

You must be given a say in the decisions that affect you, and you should be told about any decisions and changes to your care and the reasons for them.

You should be given at least one person, outside of the foster or children’s home and the local authority, who you can speak to about problems or worries (see “Who's who in the care system” for more information about people that can help you).

You should be able to talk on the phone to members of your family in private (see “Staying in touch with friends and family” for more information). Visits can also be arranged with family members at times that your carer agrees to.

Your carers must never smack, slap or shake you, or harm you in any way.

You should never be bullied by an adult or another young person while you are in a foster home or a children’s home, and if you are you need to tell an adult in charge as soon as possible so they can help you.

Your carers are only allowed to hold you down if it seems like you or someone else might get hurt, or something might get broken.

 

Legislation Policies and Standards

The 1989 Children Act remains the principle legislative frame work for foster care.

The Fostering Services Regulations 2002 have replaced the Foster Placement (Children) Regulations 1991.

The Care Standards Act 2000 applies to local authority fostering services - section 23(1) (National Minimum Standards for Fostering Services)

The UK National Standards for Foster Care (1999) and the Code of Practice on the Recruitment, Assessment, Approval, Training and Support of Foster Carers continue to be applicable to fostering services.

*Arrangements for Placement of Children (General) Regulations 1991 The Fostering Service Regulations 2002, The Fostering Services National Minimum Standards, The UK National Standards for Foster Care (1999) and the Code of Practice on the Recruitment, Assessment, Approval, Training and Support of Foster Carers 1999.

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