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Children's guide to fostering

Find out what fostering means, about the people you'll be staying with and the people who are there to help you.

Sometimes, children cannot live with their mum or dad or who normally looks after them. It's not their fault and sometimes they'll go back home when the problems are sorted out.

Sometimes, they'll stay with foster carers when they cannot live with their own family. This can be a few days, or a few months or longer. Your foster carers will look after you and help you to settle in to your foster home.

You'll see a lot of your social worker who'll visit you regularly. It's their job to help you and to settle you in with your foster carers, see that you're healthy and well and happy in school. They care about you and you can talk to them about anything you're worried about. If you want to speak to them give them a ring or ask them to come round - they're there to help you.

You can ask your social worker or foster carer how long you'll be staying and they'll tell you as much as they can. When you live with a foster carer for a bit longer you'll have a 'review'. This is a meeting about you and how you're getting on in your foster home. Your social worker will make a plan with you. This is called your 'care plan'.

What we want

We want the very best for you, so we'll make sure that you:

  • are healthy
  • are safe
  • do well in school
  • enjoy activities that you like to do
  • have fun
  • make new friends
  • keep old friends
  • see the people who are important to you
  • are listened to
  • are told what's happening while you're being fostered

You can talk to your foster carers, your social worker or speak to other people, like your independent reviewing officer or the children's rights officer, if you think we're doing things wrong and we'll try to make it right.

Your family

We know that it's really important for you to stay in touch with your family.

Your social worker and your foster carers will do whatever they can to make sure you stay in touch with people who are important to you. It might be that your family can visit you at your foster carer's house. Or we'll make sure that you can see them in another suitable place.

Your social worker will arrange family time or 'contact' which says how often you get to see your family and where. Whatever happens, we'll do our best to make sure that you stay in touch with the people who matter most to you.

Your foster home

Foster carers want you to be happy and safe when you stay with them and will work hard to look after you. They'll talk to you about what you like and don't like.

If you like to eat some things and not others, they'll ask if you want to go shopping with them to choose what you want. But they'll want you to eat healthy food as well as treats.

If you have a hobby, like to go swimming, play football or enjoy computer games, then your foster carers will encourage you to keep doing what you enjoy.

If you have friends you'd like to have visit, ask your foster carers if they can come round for tea.

You'll have a room of your own when you're fostered. Or perhaps might share a room with a brother or sister. This is your room where you'll be able to spend some quiet time and where you can keep your toys, clothes, pictures and posters. It's also your room to keep tidy! Your foster carers will need to go into your room sometimes, but they'll always knock first.

What you can and cannot do

Your foster carers will have rules for all the people who live in their home. These rules help people get on together. They might be to keep you safe and healthy, like washing your hands before you eat or remembering to clean your teeth at bedtime. There might be rules to make sure you listen to what people are saying and that they listen to you. Or what times you can go out to play and come back in and go to bed.

Ask your foster carers to write down with you what rules they have and what rules you'd like.

School

It's very important, when you become fostered, that you stay in school and keep up with your lessons. It's where you learn about subjects, grow up, see your friends and make new friends and take part in activities and hobbies after school.

If you've not been able to go to school for a while, we'll help you and make going back a lot easier, so you do not have to worry. If we can, we'll try to keep you at your school where your friends are. But if we cannot, your social worker will find a school near your foster carers.

Your teacher will know that you've gone to live with a foster carer, but it's your choice if you want to tell other people.

If you do start a new school, your foster carer will show you round to see where you leave your coat and lunch box, where the playground and toilets are and who your new teachers will be.

If you have any problems, difficulties or are being bullied, you must tell your teacher, social worker or foster carer.

Being healthy

Being healthy does not just mean not catching colds or bugs. It also means looking after yourself - eating the right food, going to the dentist, seeing the doctor if you do not feel well and checking that your eyes and ears are working properly.

Your foster carers will make sure that you're properly cared for while you stay with them. They'll take you for your appointments and check-ups, see that you clean your teeth and eat healthy meals.

If you need to find out more about your health, your foster carers can speak to the nurse for children who are fostered. They'll give you all the advice you need to stay well. They'll go with you to the doctors if you want them to and explain to your carers what help you might need if you do become ill.

Bullying

Bullying is wrong but it still happens. Children sometimes bully others because:

  • they do not know it's wrong
  • they're copying older brothers and sisters or other people
  • they have not learnt other ways of mixing with other children
  • their friends encourage them to bully
  • they're going through a difficult time and are acting out angry feelings
  • they're jealous

Bullying includes people calling you names, making things up to get you into trouble, hitting, pinching, biting, pushing and shoving, taking or damaging your things, threatening and frightening you.

If you're being bullied you must not keep quiet about it. You should tell people who care about you to make them stop. No one will be cross with you and they'll want to sort it out as soon as possible. If you're being bullied, speak to your foster carers or social worker. If someone at school is bullying you, talk to your teacher.

If you do not want to talk to your carers or your social worker, you can talk to the participation team, tel: 01629 535787 or mobile: 07771 716462. They'll help you with any worries you might have, whether it's with your school, your family or your foster home.

Cyber bullying

Cyber bullying is bullying through email, instant messaging, text messages, blogs, websites and mobile phones. It's also called electronic bullying, SMS bullying, mobile bullying, online bullying and internet bullying. Cyber bullying causes distress and is wrong.

If you receive a nasty message it's best not to reply. If they do not stop, tell your foster carer. They'll know ways to try to stop them. If it keeps happening, your foster carer may need to look at the messages to take further action to stop them.

Never give out personal information in chatrooms or through any instant messenger apps. Always think about what you write and how you write it.

Do not reply to any text or video messages that are rude or nasty. Tell your foster carer, who'll be able to report the messages and stop them.

Using the internet and social media apps can be great fun, a place to chat to your friends and meet new ones. But you need to be very careful about who you chat to and what information you give out.

Remember that if you've never met the person chatting to you, they're still a stranger, even if you've chatted lots. Never give out your address or telephone number to these people. Only give out your mobile number to people that you know and trust and never reply to a message from somebody that you do not know.

Talk to your foster carers who'll help you decide which social media apps and internet sites are safe to use and how to use them.

If you have a problem or are unhappy

If you're worried about anything at all or have a problem, these people can help you:

  • your foster carer
  • your social worker
  • your independent reviewing officer
  • the participation team, tel: 01629 535787 or mobile: 07771 716462

You also have the right to talk to an organisation called Ofsted who are responsible for upholding standards in foster care.