Living in Foster Care
What does fostering mean?
Being fostered means that you can’t currently live with your parents. It’s often called ‘going into care’ or being ‘looked after’.
There are loads of reasons why this can happen:
- Parents are unwell
- Parents are unable to look after you properly
- Parents may have struggled to care for their children.
- You need to be kept safe and well – this is why you will be put into a foster family.
It doesn’t mean your family and parents don’t care or love you – it just means that, right now, they need some help.
How long will I be in care for?
This is for when children/young people need to stay in a foster family until they are an adult (18 years of age). This means not going back home to your parents. Your social worker knows your plan and will talk to you about the type of foster care you will need. There are about 80 children currently in foster care on the Isle of Man.
How did I come into foster care?
Sometimes children/young people are having a rough time at home and need to tell someone about it.
Sometimes parents ask for help because they are not well, can’t cope or struggle to care for their child/children.
Social workers from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will visit the home to make sure that everything is OK, if it’s not – this is when you can come ‘into care’.
It can be really scary and upsetting, but there are friendly people here to help you settle in.
Who is there to help me?
- Your Foster Carer – you live with them and are part of their family – talk to them about how you feel. They are trained and want to help you.
- Your social worker – they have the responsibility to take into account what you want – tell them and ask them what you want to know.
- Fostering First – we are here to help your Foster Carers. If helping them means helping you – that’s what we do! If you feel more comfortable talking to someone on the Fostering First Team – let them know.
- Teachers – if you have a teacher that you like and trust, you can always talk to them. They will know how to help and can talk to the other grown ups involved if necessary.
- Your friends – if they are ‘in care’ or not, your friends will care about what is happening to you. Talk to them about it – you will need your friends as it can take a while to adjust to being in a foster family.
What will it be like to live with someone else?
This is bound to be weird for you. You can make it easier for yourself and your foster family by letting them know things about you.
- If you don’t like mushrooms – tell them! It’s important that they know the things that you like and dislike, so be honest!
- Even if you think it’s silly – tell them. Some people don’t like being hugged, tickled etc – let them know. You can tell them – it’s OK.
- Bring your things with you. Make your room ‘your room’. Things that make you happy and remind you of your life. Photos, music, books – the things that matter to you.
- You shouldn’t have to change schools – we try not to do that. Your social worker will talk to you if that needs to happen – so try not to worry.
Other important information
Your Foster Carers are put through an assessment before they can look after any children/young people. The Fostering First Panel decides who can become Foster Carers. The panel is made up of adults from various backgrounds – they are independent from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and The Children’s Centre. You might go along to Fostering First Panel with your carers, or you might not.
Fostering First work with the DHSC to find the best placement for you. We try to keep you with one set of carers, but this isn’t always possible. Sometimes, children/young people have to go into an Emergency Placement until somewhere more suitable is found.
If you have brothers and sisters going into care, we try to keep you together as much as we can – but sometimes this isn’t the best thing for you. After you have been put in a foster family, there will be a Placement Planning Meeting which will decide how you are looked after on a daily basis. This includes school, seeing your family, medicines, clubs and activities.
It’s all about you
You have to tell your social worker what you think and what you want. Remember:
- You are important.
- You can ask your Social Worker what is going on.
- Talk to your Foster Carer and Social Worker about your feelings.
Understanding your care plan
A Care Plan is made about how you should be cared for and what the plan for your future should be. At the next LAC Review meeting, everyone will have a look at your Care Plan to make sure everything is going well for you and will check that everything that should have happened, has happened.
It is important to attend the LAC Review because, after all, they are all here about YOU. You need to be there to tell the adults who are making plans and decisions for you and how you feel and what you think. LAC Reviews can be quite long and you may not have to stay for all of it.
If the Care Plan is not for you to return home to your family, your Social Worker will ask Fostering First to find you a long term Foster Family, where you can stay until you are grown up.
When you come into Foster Care, you will see your School Nurse to have a medical. This is so that the nurse knows you are keeping well and healthy. She will see you every year to check that you are ok.
Being healthy is very important. There are loads of things you can do to make sure you stay healthy. Like eating well, playing and taking part in sports, exercise and keeping yourself clean. If you have to take medicines regularly, or have any injections, your Foster Carer will make sure this happens.
Your Foster Carer will make sure you see your GP, dentist and optician when you need to.
If you are unwell or unhappy, talk to your Foster Carer or Social Worker, they will want to help and will know where to start.
This is when you go to see your family. Your social worker will know the arrangements for you to see your parents and other family members.
If anything about contact worries you, guess what? Talk to your social worker of Foster Carer. They need to know if there are any reasons to be worried about you seeing people from your family.
Contact won’t always be in person – you can keep in touch on the phone with some people. Again, this would have to be arranged through your social worker.
If your Social Worker thinks that the time is right for you to go home, he or she will plan this with you. You will go for visits and then, if things go well, you might stay overnight. Your Social Worker will need to know that your parents are able to look after you and that you are safe. Once it is decided that you are returning home, all your belongings will go with you.
This will probably be a really confusing time for you. Will it work out back home? Will I have to go back into care? Talk to your Foster Carer and Social Worker about these feelings. They really can help you sort things out.
You might be really happy to be going home or it may take you some time to settle back in. You MUST remember that if things go wrong again, you can ALWAYS ask for help.
Your Social Worker will visit you at home to see that everything is going well and that you are happy and safe. If you’re not happy, you can tell them.
Questions you might have
Foster Carers are ordinary families who care and will have some understanding of how upsetting it can be living away from your family. Talk to them about how you feel and they will do their best to help.
Foster Carers look after children and young people who, like you, cannot live at home. Our Foster Carers have had training and have been ‘checked out’ to make sure that they can offer you a safe place to live.
A Foster carer is someone who looks after children when they have to live away from home. Foster Carers are specially taught to do this and at the Fostering Panel, it is decided if they are suitable to become a Foster Carer.
A Fostering Panel is a group of adults that meet to decide whether people who want to be Foster Carers can do it properly. If they think the answer is ‘Yes’, they will tell Fostering First.
Every year the Fostering Panel check that Foster Carers are caring for children properly.
The Fostering Panel may help to match a child to the right Foster Family if the child needs to be fostered long term.
Some young people stay in foster care for a short time. Other need to stay for longer. Your Social Worker should give you some idea of long this could be.
Your Social Worker will be working hard to get you back home as soon as possible, but only if it is safe to do so.
Sometimes, parents have asked us to look after their children while they sort out some problems. If you are one of these children, you can return home as soon as your parents are able to care for you.
For other children and young people, it has been the DHSC decision to look after them. If you are on of these children, Social Services will need to ask the Court to help them decide if it is safe for you to return home.
Your Social Worker will tell us things about you, such as which school you attend and things that you like to do so we can decide which Foster Carers might be best for you.
If the Social Worker has decided that it would be best for you to leave home quickly, you might be placed with a Foster Family for a few days until another Foster Family is found for you.
We will do our best to place you in a family where we think you will fit in and settle down well. This is very important if you need to stay with a Foster Family for a long time.
We will try to make sure your Foster Family has a similar ethnic background to you, speak the same language, have the same religious celebrations and share parts of your culture. If this is not possible, your Foster Family will understand your background and culture. They will support you maintaining your religious beliefs.
If you are not happy with the Foster Family that you will be living with or are already living live, talk to your social worker about this. It is very important that you are honest about how you are feeling, so that your social worker can do something about it.
So, after you have moved in with your Foster Family, a Placement Meeting will be held within 7 days.
Sometimes, but not always, Social Workers might need to go to court about the plans that are being made for you.
The court is a place where a Deemster can make decisions about where you live and whether or not you should be ‘looked after’ by the DHSC.
In most cases, you will not have to go to court, as your Social Worker and children’s guardian will go for you. Remember to ask your Social Worker what has happened in court, so that you know.
A children’s guardian is someone who finds out what you think and feel. They make sure your feelings and wishes are told to the court.
You may be worried that you’ll have to move school when you become fostered. Almost all children stay at their school when they move into a Foster Family. If your plan is decided that you will live with a Foster Carer until you are grown up, then you may have to move to a local school.
School is important to every child. That’s where you learn, not just about different subjects, but also about growing up and what it means. It is important that you go to school every day. If you are finding that something is difficult, talk to your Social Worker or Foster Carer about it. They are there to help you. At school you will have something called an ‘Electronic Personal Education Plan’ (EPEP). This plan will say what you need to help you get on better at school,. You should say what you want from school and if there is any help you need.
If you have been used to going to an after school club, remember to tell your Social Worker or Foster Carer, so they can make sure you can still go to it.
If at school or at a club, you find that you are being bullied or called nasty names or being hurt because you are in care, or for any other reason, tell your Foster Carer or Social Worker about it. If you are being bullied (which means that someone is targeting you, getting into fights with you, getting you into trouble or stealing your things) then you should tell your teacher, Foster Carer, Social Worker or an adult that you trust. Don’t be scared. It is better to tell someone and get something done rather than stay quiet.