Imagine being a small child, lying in your bed and suddenly strangers come and take you out of a sound sleep. The last thing you see as you exit the house is your hysterical mother who is being held back by the police, screaming at the top of her lungs, “Please don’t take my baby away!” You are then put into the back of a car while kicking and screaming for your mother and taken to live with people who you have never met before.Not all child removals initiated by Child Protective Services are that dramatic, especially if the child is taken from their school or daycare. But when a small child is removed from the home, often times it’s done in the middle of the night. A social worker comes knocking on the door accompanied by the police. The parents are in a state of confusion and hysterics and the child is taken away and placed in the foster care system.The process of being removed from the home by Child Protective Services can be a traumatic experience for any child. It can have a lasting effect resulting in various psychological disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder and severe Depression, although that part of it is usually swept under the rug or blamed on the parents.So, what could be worse then that? How about being caught up in the foster care system? Usually the child will be placed in a temporary foster home and then bounced from home to home every few months until they exit the foster care system. A high percentage of foster children are diagnosed with various mental disorders, most commonly ADHD and Depression. If the child is diagnosed with any of these they are sure to be medicated for it, often quite heavily.Exiting the foster care system happens in various ways. A child can be reunited with their parents for example, or they can be adopted out. Some children are placed with other relatives, although this is too rare of an occurrence. Many exit the foster care system by turning 18, a process known as “aging out.” When a child ages out of the system, it is typically with no emotional or financial support. They’re suddenly on their own without the ability to take care of themselves. Many who age out of the system end up homeless or in jail within the first year of being emancipated.Most children who age out of the system do so because they are not adoptable. This is often due to the child’s age or special needs. Very few perspective parents want to adopt a child with special needs, and most don’t want to adopt older children who come with the heavy emotional baggage that life in the foster care system places on children. So a family becomes an unrealistic dream for many children caught up in the system.If a child’s special needs are too severe, they may not even be able to live in a foster home. These children will instead be placed in group homes staffed by trained workers and simply medicated and controlled until they turn 18.
Becoming a foster carer requires undertaking an assessment under the UK Fostering Services Regulations 2002, which prescribes the statutory framework for the assessment of prospective foster carers in the UK.Amongst the requirements of this regulation and the assessment of foster carers, are the needs to obtain the information as to the applicant and other members of their household and family, interview at least two personal referees nominated by the applicant and prepare written reports of the interviews.Fostering agencies are required to prepare a written report which is an assessment of the applicant’s suitability to act as a foster carer and the proposed terms and conditions of the fostering approval. On satisfactory completion of the assessment, the assessment report is shared with the applicant to make sure it is fair and accurate. The report will be presented to the Fostering Panel by the social worker who worked with the applicants.The Panel is held at the Fostering Agency office and will consist of social workers, a foster carer and other independent and professional people. The applicants will be invited to attend and are very welcome.The Panel process takes about an hour, providing the Panel recommends approval, the applicants will be registered as approved foster carers with the Fostering Agency within a few days. As approved foster carers, they will be able to start your fostering career.The information required for the assessment of prospective foster carers must be gathered under Schedule 3 of the Fostering Services Regulations. Following the initial visit and the decision to proceed, the Fostering Agency social worker will arrange to start the assessment.The assessment will involve about ten home visits from the assessing social worker who will also visit the referees and any other relevant people.By the end of the assessment applicants will be expected to show they can develop the following skills; the ability to communicate with children, their families and professionals;an awareness of child development and the particular needs of foster children; a willingness to work with the care plan for the child including working with their families; flexibility; the ability to keep accurate records; a willingness to attend meetings, support groups and training courses.The home study is an enjoyable experience however it can be demanding and feel intrusive at times. The report will include the carer’s full names address and date of birth, details of their health (supported by a medical report), personality, marital status and details of their current and any previous marriage or similar relationship also particulars of any other adult members of their household.Information regarding applicants children in their family, living in their household, or not, their accommodation, religious persuasion and their capacity to care for a child from any particular religious persuasion, their racial origin, cultural and linguistic background and their capacity to care for a child from any particular origin or cultural or linguistic background.Applicant’s past and present employment or occupation, standard of living and leisure activities, interests and their previous experience (if any) of caring for their own and other children, their skills, competence and potential relevant to their capacity to care effectively for a child placed with them.The report will include any information about any request or application made by the potential foster carers or any other member of their household to foster or adopt children, or for registration for child minding or day care, including particulars of any previous approval or refusal of approval relating to them or to any other member of their household.References are requested from at least two persons who will provide personal references for the prospective foster carers. In relation to the prospective foster carers, their older children and any other people who will have significant contact with foster children an enhanced criminal record certificate will be undertaken along with other relevant checks.It is of paramount importance to choose the right UK fostering agency to undertake the foster care assessment. There are over seven hundred agencies in the UK.