Would you like to know more about becoming an Alpha Plus Foster Carer? Call us now on 0808 284 9211 or register your interest here

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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions

We know that researching fostering can be overwhelming when you first start. We have tried to help by gathering some of the most common questions we are asked by people who are considering becoming foster carers.

It’s quite straightforward to transfer from your current fostering agency to Alpha Plus, and you have every right to do so. The quickest way to find out the best route for you is to call us on 0808 284 9211 so we can guide you through it.

The process can vary slightly depending on which agency you are with now and whether or not you have any foster children staying with you. If you do have a foster child staying with you at the moment, our first priority will be to make sure the transfer doesn’t disrupt their care. So, within 28 days of starting the process, your local authority will meet with you to discuss the transfer’s effect on their stability and welfare. After that, we will meet with you, your current agency and the child’s social worker to agree the arrangements and start our assessment stage.

If you don’t have a foster child staying with you at the moment, the process is even easier and we can move straight to the assessment stage.

For advice about making the change as smooth as possible, give us a ring on 0808 284 9211 or request a callback. We’re always happy to help.

Almost anyone can be a foster carer, as long as they have love to give, the patience to work through difficulties and the dedication to invest lots of time and energy.
Neither your age, cultural background, relationship status nor disability play a part in determining whether you are suitable. You just need to be available around the clock (or have a partner you can share this responsibility with) and have a spare bedroom for the sole use of your foster child.
Other things we consider include:

  • Your personal references and any history of offending
  • Your eligibility to work in the UK
  • Your health background and family lifestyle
  • Your parenting skills and experience of caring for children
  • Your ability to provide a nurturing environment

It’s really easy to join our foster care family and start making a difference. Our application process is broken up into three stages: initial visit, application and fostering assessment.

Enquiry and Initial Visit

Once you have registered your interest we will send you an information pack and you will speak with our dedicated Carer Recruitment Officer who will answer any of your questions and start to gather information about your application. She will then book a face to face meeting for you. A supervising social worker will then visit you at home, discuss your options and ask some basic questions.

Fostering Assessment

If both you and our supervising social worker think you are suitable, we will write up a report and pass it on to the regional manager. You will be allocated an Assessing Social Worker and the process will begin which includes background checks and training courses.

From start to finish, it usually takes around three to four months for you to be all set up and approved. This includes background checks, assessments and training courses. We will always do our best to process your application as swiftly as possible, but please be aware that it can sometimes take up to six months before you’re assigned your first placement. You will find this time useful to make sure your home is ready to welcome your first placement.

It may sound like a big commitment, but most people who become foster carers with us call it a “very satisfying” experience. After all, you will be making a big difference to the life of a child in need.

To make sure foster care is for you, we work together to take a thorough look at your life. The process takes a few months to complete and you will have a dedicated supervising social worker to support you every step of the way.

Initial background checks

To begin with, we will need your permission to perform background checks (paid for by us) on you and your family, including:
Criminal checks with the Disclosure and Barring Service
Medical checks with your GP
Background checks with local authorities
Suitability checks with three referees (non-family members) provided by you

Home visits

Your assessing social worker will arrange to visit you and your family on a regular basis throughout your assessment period. You will get to know each other quite closely as he or she collects all the information needed for your assessment report. Together, you will work out what types of fostering fit your lifestyle best and what types of foster child you will be most helpful to.

Training Sessions

As you progress with your assessment, we will provide you with full training to prepare you to begin your fostering career. Starting with our three-day ‘Skills to Foster’ course, you will learn about the fostering process, meet an experienced foster carer and meet local people who are also involved in the assessment process.

Panel Decision

During the assessment process your Assessing Social Worker will be gathering all of the information regarding checks along with your life history and experience. The report that they produce known as a Form F is presented to a multi disciplinary panel who will approve your recommendation to become a foster carer. You will be invited to attend the panel meeting and they will advise you on the day if your application is to be recommended for approval.

After successfully going through the assessment process, our referral coordinators will consider you as s potential match for some of the many children referred to us. If we identify a match we will share your details with the Local Authority. The child’s Social worker will decide if they want to place the child with you. This decision to move a child can be made as a planned move or as an emergency depending on the urgency of the situation.

There is no specific upper age limit to fostering. When you apply to become a foster carer with us we look at your individual circumstances including your health, experience and lifestyle. Life experience can be extremely valuable in fostering and we would encourage people of a variety of ages and backgrounds to apply.

Absolutely! We welcome applications from the LGBT community. In fact, diversity is a crucial element of fostering. Each carer will have their own set of skills and experiences, and this will be taken into account when matching a young person in need of care. All we would ask in that the relationship in stable and established and you have a mutual desire to foster.

This would depend on the nature of the conviction. Having a criminal record does not necessarily prevent you for being able to foster. Openness is essential at the earliest stage and throughout the application process. We will look at the nature of the conviction, the circumstances around it and how long ago it was. Your enquiry will be discussed in complete confidence.

Carers can live in large or small houses or flats, as a tenant or owner occupier. A secure tenancy is important and permission should be sought from your landlord. The most essential requirements are that each foster child has his/her own bedroom and that your home is welcoming and safe. Same sex sibling groups of very young children may be able to share a bedroom.

Absolutely! The only animals that are automatically excluded are animals classified under the Dangerous Dogs Act. All other pets need to be safe, well cared for and friendly with children. A pet assessment will be carried out by the assessing social worker and in some cases it may be asked that a vet undertakes the assessment – this is usually where there are or have been any concerns about the animal’s behaviour towards children or adults. Some children enjoy having pets in the home however others may be frightened or may tease animals.

We like to get a balanced picture about current lifestyle, fitness and capacity to care for children. All applicants who are offered a fostering assessment will have a medical with their own GP. This will enable each case to be considered on an individual basis. Children under 5 or any child with medical conditions or disability cannot be placed with smokers.

Yes, however, you will need to be very flexible. You will need to consider the responsibilities of fostering such as facilitating school runs, contact meetings, attending training sessions and meetings with local authority services. Fostering is a 24/7 vocation so this would need to be your priority.

Yes if you live together as both of you will be providing care to any child placed with you. If you are not living together, your partner/spouse will still need to be checked and will be heavily involved in the process.

There are many reasons why children need to be ‘looked after’ by foster carers. Some families have periods of instability due to life issues, i.e., medical conditions, depression, family breakdown, learning difficulties, substance dependency and families struggling to cope. Unfortunately, some children experience significant harm from family members and in these circumstances parents may have failed to meet the child’s basic needs, exposed the child to inappropriate behaviour or risk or deliberately caused harm. The role of the foster carer is to provide a stable and safe home while a care plan for the child is established.

Every suitable referral is discussed with the foster carer to identify if they would like to be considered by the local authority as a match for the child. As a foster carer you will never be pressured to consider a placement that you feel will not be a good match for you and your family. Local authorities provide as much information about the child and their background as possible but occasionally, especially when a child is placed in an emergency, there may be little information available. In this situation, the wider professional team will work as quickly as possible to obtain information.

This is dependent on individual circumstances. Local authorities have a legal duty to try to return children to their own families wherever possible and where appropriate. Whilst the suitability of returning a child home is assessed, a short term foster placement is made to ensure the child is in a safe and stable environment in the meantime. If it is agreed that the child should not return home and a long term fostering arrangement is recommended by the courts, the agency would look to identify a family who can care for them until they move into independence.
Children may be placed with foster carers for an unknown period of time or a planned duration; anything from a few days or until the child reaches adulthood.

Like all other children, foster children have their own individual personalities relating to their age, experiences and development. ‘Looked after children’ have the added difficulty of family separation and may be dealing with difficult past experiences. Some children cannot express their complex feelings with words alone and display their emotions through behaviour, which can be viewed as disruptive. Such behaviours might include: difficulty sleeping, eating disorders or being withdrawn or aggressive. With patience and support, foster carers can help children and young people to feel safe and secure and slowly begin to build successful relationships, which will increase their chances of achieving positive social outcomes.

Your love and perseverance can help foster children in ways that are hard to imagine. By showing them they are cared about, combined with the support of a professional team, great improvements can be made, no matter how severe their initial behaviours are.

Yes. You will be approved for an age range however this will depend on a few things such as other children in the household and if anyone in the household is a smoker. It is worth remembering that fostering is very much demand led; the local trends in the needs of looked after children, including their ages, vary between regions. As a result, we only approve families who we feel have the capacity to meet those needs and who have a high chance of getting placements. The wider the age range you are able to accommodate, the higher chance you will have of a child being placed with you. Children placed in foster care can be any age from 0 to 18.

When you become an approved foster carer you will have your own supervising social worker who will guide you through the fostering process. You will also have access to specialist local training, foster carer support groups and social events. You are never on your own – you will be part of a wider team of professionals who work together to improve the life chances and quality of life of a foster child.

No. A placement fee is made to carers only when they have a child with them. For this reason it is important to consider the financial viability of becoming a foster carer. Whilst the agency does its best to only approve carers who they feel have a high chance of getting a placement, we cannot make guarantees.

A foster child can be taken on holiday with the permission of the local authority; however some children cannot be taken out of the country due to their immigration status.