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Young person's guide to contract foster care

Contract foster care is a fostering scheme providing family based care for young people aged from 10 to 18 years old.

We offer homes for young people to live in a family situation alongside working with other services to meet any additional needs you may have to help you be the best you can be in education, health, looking after yourself, developing hobbies, and any other areas you may like or need to explore.

Staying Put Scheme

This scheme allows some young people to stay put in their foster placement after the age of 18, until they are ready to move into semi or full independence. This option would depend on whether your foster carer has the bedroom space and is able to provide this. You would need to be in education or employment as you would need to be able to pay a small rent per week.

Foster carers

Your foster carers work alongside your social worker and other social care professionals to provide support and care.

They'll have cared for or worked with other people's children. They'll have an understanding of how to work with you to meet your needs and give you a supportive and happy place to live.

One adult will be home based and have no other job, so they'll be there for you when needed. And will always try to do their best for you.

Social workers

Your social worker will work with you. They'll help to guide you through difficult times and make sure that you're safe and happy.

They're here to provide you with help and support in order to improve the outcome of your life. They sometimes need to use their professional judgment to make tough decisions that you might not always like. But please remember they're here to help you!

Your social worker will keep in regular touch with you throughout your placement. They'll visit you and make decisions about your care, with and for you.

Supervising social workers

Your foster carer will have a supervising social worker who supports them like your social worker supports you.

Every foster carer will have a worker allocated to them to support, offer advice and guide them in every aspect of fostering. They'll work alongside your social worker to make sure that you and your foster carer are both happy. They'll keep in frequent touch with your foster carer through regular visits and phone calls, so you will probably get to see quite a lot of them. They'll also support you and your foster carer at meetings and reviews.

Family resource workers (FRWs)

Family resource workers provide a supportive service to young people whilst they are living with contract carers.

They work alongside your social worker and foster carer to help things go smoothly, ensure you are happy and are able to achieve your full potential.

They attend meetings such as your PEPs and reviews, and if there's something you want to say but don’t feel you can, they can say it for you. They work to help you gain independence skills and give you guidance on many aspects of your life, and for your future. They can also give you support in educational establishments, court, and in contact with your family. They help action the recommendations that are set in your review. But can also just be someone to talk to.

They work with you one-on-one, and sometimes in groups with other young people if this would suit you.

In the school holidays they do fun days out to places such as the cinema, bowling, the zoo, laser quest, and trampoline parks. Anything that you'd enjoy! They're always open to ideas, as long as it’s reasonable.

Independent reviewing officers (IROs)

Independent reviewing officers are the people who'll chair your review. Every young person that is looked after has their own independent reviewing officer. They play an important role in deciding what happens in your future. It's the IRO's job to make sure that decisions taken are the ones that are best for you, follow your care plan and respect your rights.

The main job of the IRO is to make sure that your care plan meets your needs. They'll do this by chairing your review, letting you have your own say and making sure that people do what they agreed to do. Your first review will happen within one month of moving with your new contract carers. The second one will be within 3 months. Then they'll happen every 6 months. Your reviewing officer will spend some time with you alone before the meeting begins, to see how you’re feeling.

These are your reviews, and it's very important that you make sure that the IRO knows how you feel and what you want to happen. Once a decision is made in a review it does not mean it will always happen. Your social worker’s manager will need to agree with the plan within a week. If your IRO is not happy with what the manager says they'll try and sort it out through discussion. If that does not work they may talk to senior managers or to a CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service) worker who may ask the court to decide what's best for you.

Money

You'll get some allowances depending on your age and personal circumstances. There may be times when things go wrong and you may have to wait for your money. This could be dependent on behaviour. If you have any worries or concerns, you can speak to your social worker.

Pocket money

Every week there's an allowance for your pocket money. The amount will depend on your age and personal circumstances and should be discussed and agreed with your social worker and foster carer.

You're expected to save a proportion of your weekly allowance. Your foster carer can help you to set up a current account and a savings account to help you with your short term and long term savings.

Clothing allowance

There is a clothing allowance which is there for when clothing is required. Your contract carer may go through this with you to help you decide what you need and how best to spend your allowance.

Further education bursary

If you attend further education you'll be entitled to a bursary. This is meant to be used for travel, lunch, clothing and equipment to enable you to attend your education. You can get travel cards and lunch cards from your education provider and also any equipment needed with the help of the college. You'll need to discuss this with them and costs will be deducted from your bursary to pay for these before the money is paid to you.

Driving lessons

Once you're 17 and if you wish to learn to drive you may be able to get help with driving lessons. If you can save enough to pay for 10 lessons we'll pay for another 10 for you.

Short breaks

Everyone needs a break sometimes, so short breaks are there to give you and your carer a bit of time to recharge your batteries. This could be anything from a weekend to a couple of weeks. We'll try to arrange for you to stay with the same carer each time, but there may be times when this is difficult to do. If there's anything you’re worried about regarding short breaks please talk to your social worker, foster carer or family resource worker.

If you’re not happy

If there's anything you’re not happy about, don’t keep it to yourself. Speak to someone you can trust, like your foster carer, social worker, supervising social worker, FRW or your independent reviewing officer. You could also speak to a teacher or another adult if you want to.

Derbyshire Children's Rights and Advocacy Service

You could also contact Derbyshire Children's Rights and Advocacy Service, email: childrensrights@derbyshire.gov.uk or tel: 01629 532029.

They're an impartial advice and support service for young people, up to the age of 25. An advocate is someone who supports young people and helps them to have their say. They can also speak for you on your behalf if you would like them to.

Call Derbyshire

Call Derbyshire tel: 01629 533190. This is a service available to you from 5pm to 9am the following day. If you call it will be answered by a call handler, but you may be put through to a social worker if there is a serious problem.

If you're out in the community and are concerned about anything or need help you should ring your carer.

Police

Police non-emergency tel: 101.

Talk to Frank

Talk to Frank helps you find out everything you might want to know about drugs and legal highs, (and some stuff you don't). If you take drugs, are feeling under pressure to take them or are worried about a friend, for friendly, confidential advice, Talk to FRANK.

ChildLine

ChildLine is a free 24-hour counselling service for children and young people up to their 19th birthday in the United Kingdom provided by the NSPCC.

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

Thinkuknow is an education programme which protects children both online and offline.

You may feel you're pushed into having sex, or doing sexual things you do not want to do. If you're worried about anything, view the tea and consent video on YouTube to understand consent and your right to say no!

Life skills

While you're living with your foster carer you'll be helped to build your skills and knowledge to help you to look after yourself when you leave care. Things like how to run a home, bills and budgeting, cooking, how to apply for jobs and college and more.

For those 15 and over, there's the independent living skills booklet which we'll complete with you to prepare you to live independently. This will help you toward gaining your own accommodation when you leave your foster carer. It'll help to prove you have the skills and knowledge to run your own home. There are different ways in which we can go about this to make it as fun as possible. It'll be done in the way in which suits you best. You may prefer to work through the booklet with your foster carer. They should be helping you to do things for yourself in the home whilst you’re with them.