Why Foster with SWAP Foster Care

Swap Foster Care is a family run local Independent Fostering agency, where all of our members are valued and respected. We aim to provide outstanding care to all of our children to achieve the best outcomes.

We have a dedicated staff team who support our Foster Carers 24/7. Our Foster Carers have their own named Supervising Social Worker supporting them every step of the way from stage one.

At Swap we offer 24/7 support where you can call our offices during office hours and speak to either your named Social Worker or a Social Worker at the office if you need to and when our offices are closed you can call the duty phone and speak to one of our Social Workers out of hours.

What is Foster Care

Fostering is one of several care options that offers children a home when they are unable to live with their birth family. In the UK around 80 per cent of looked after children live with foster families, who offer them stability, security and often their first experience of a positive family life.

Children come into care for many different reasons. Sometimes it is because of a parent’s short-term illness or a temporary problem within the family that requires the children to have alternative care. Some have experienced domestic violence or witnessed drug and alcohol misuse; others have been abused or neglected.

Fostering offers these children a safe and caring family, usually geographically close to their home, while they are unable to live with their own, and provides an opportunity for other professionals to work with the birth family to help resolve their issues.

It is often important for fostered children to maintain links with their birth family – mum, dad, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles or grandparents – through regular ‘contact’ meetings. Foster carers play a big part in making these happen.

Foster carers at Swap Foster Care are trained, assessed and approved to look after fostered children by child care experts working as part of a team of professionals providing children with the highest standard of care. Alongside this professionalism, they offer these children love, warmth and a positive experience of family life.

There are many different types of fostering depending on the needs of the child. Sometimes children only stay with a foster family for a few days, while others will live with their foster family for their entire childhood and beyond.
Whether it’s overnight or for several years, foster carers can provide the support, stability, and care in a safe, loving environment every child needs. Being a foster carer is not easy but fostering can make a huge difference to the lives of the children who need it.

Who Can Foster?

The most important ingredient in a carer’s personality is that – to a child or young person – they feel like a ‘safe’ person. We all have different ways of being safe people but it is this message of safety that we give to others that will enable a child to begin to trust us. What follows is also important:

  • You have the time and the energy to commit to a child or young person. You won’t be able to do a full-time job and be a foster carer, unless you choose to be a respite carer ie you only look after children at certain times, for example, when their regular carers are on holiday.
  • That you have the ‘stickability’ factor and that you are the sort of person who recovers quickly from setbacks and can learn from the many and varied experiences you are likely to have as a carer.
  • You have at least one spare bedroom. As long as one bedroom is free it doesn’t matter whether your home is a house or a flat, owned or rented.
  • You are prepared to work as part of a team – with other care professionals, with the school and with the birth parents, if necessary, to secure the best outcome for the child.
  • You are someone who will enjoy seeing a child or young person begin their journey towards a good future, and will go to a lot of trouble to keep them on track.
  • You are someone who feels a child should be an inclusive member of your family who goes with you wherever and whenever you go whether on family outings, family holidays and is involved in leisure and recreational activities and hobbies
  • You are the kind of carer who feels it is the carer’s responsibility to take a child to health appointments, School sports days, parent’s evenings, you take an interest in and support homework and ensure children have all they need including space, time and support to make a positive contribution in education.
  • You are willing to go the extra mile to ensure children achieve economic well-being by preparing them for adulthood, involving them in daily chores, promoting Independent Living Skills and setting them up to be valued citizens who can contribute to society.
  • Above all you will commit to learning through research training and your own personal development so you can help children and young people enjoy their time with you and achieve their full potential!
  • Swap Foster Care requires you to be over the age of 21, and be a British citizen (or have indefinite leave to remain).

Types of Fostering

At Swap Foster Care we are working alongside a host of placing Local Authorities to provide a range of mainstream fostering homes. This is the most common type of fostering. Our foster carers provide care for children all of ages from 0-18 years old. These arrangements might include siblings, teenagers, very young children or children seeking asylum. Some last for a few days and others a few months, it all depends on the needs of the child.

Short-term
Most children and young people, when they first need foster care, are under short term arrangements. They can vary in length from a few days, weeks, months or years. These arrangements are invaluable as they provide the child with the secure and caring environment they need, whilst professionals, families and the child have an opportunity to work together to decide on their future.

The hope will always be to achieve permanence for any child whether that is living back with their birth family, extended family members, through adoption or long term fostering.

Emergency
Emergency fostering is responding to the immediate need for a child or young person at short notice whether that is in the day time, evenings or weekends. Availability and flexibility are essential in what can be a very rewarding area of fostering.

Long-term
Long-term foster care is one of the most beneficial types of fostering. This can achieve the stability and security for a child’s entire childhood. For children and young people, it creates a sense of belonging and reflects a commitment on both the part of the foster family and child. Unlike adoption, the children remain the legal responsibility of the local authority, and fostering allowances continue to support the placement.

Parent and Child Arrangements
We offer specialist training, support and guidance to our foster carers who want to offer a chance by providing a home for both the child and one, or both, of its parents.

These may be pre-birth placements, to help the mother prepare for the arrival of her baby. Or they may be a parent who needs some help to learn basic care skills, and how to provide a safe, nurturing environment for their child.

Fees, Allowances and Benefits

Having a big heart may be a prerequisite of successful fostering, but, for many carers, becoming a foster carer is increasingly a specialist career choice requiring expert training, a range of diverse skills and qualifications and, not surprisingly, a reasonable fee in addition to recognised allowances. Swap Foster Care strives towards recruiting and retaining good foster carers and the pay is a realistic amount in recognition of their skills and experience.

Foster carer’s first priority is the children, but foster carers cannot afford to foster without being paid the fees and allowances that are required both to look after foster children properly and to enable foster carers to replace some of the income often lost when deciding to foster.

There are three levels of fostering pay which are related to a foster carer’s service and experience. The Probationary rate is payable to foster carers who are new to the fostering role (level one). Foster carers will progress to the higher carer rate when they have completed 12 months of fostering a child, or children, and when they have completed the Training and Development Standards (level 2).Foster Carers with 5 years or more experience or hold a level 3 NVQ relevant to fostering or childcare will progress to the experienced carer rate (level three)

Foster carer’s who transfer to Swap will follow the same qualifying levels as above.

Probationary rates for new carers:

Level 1
Starts at £350 per week
Rates for carers with 12 months of fostering experience who have completed the training and development standards

Level 2
Starts at £400 per week
Foster Carers with 5 years or more experience or hold a level 3 NVQ relevant to fostering or childcare

Level 3
Starts at £450 per week

Additional allowances

  • Bonus schemes (£1750-2250 p/a)
  • Costco membership

In some circumstances, foster parents are still eligible to receive housing benefit, child benefit or child tax credit for their own birth children whilst also receiving a fostering allowance.

For further information visit HMRC

Want to find out more about becoming a foster carer? Get in touch today – we’re here to help!

FAQ's

Who can be a Foster Parent?

Swap Foster Care requires you to be over the age of 21, and be a British citizen (or have indefinite leave to remain).

Can I work and foster?
In most cases, we ask that one foster carer in a family performs the role full-time, and has no other employment. However, depending on the type of placement, there may be some opportunities for you to work in a flexible or part-time capacity. You can discuss this with one of our Social workers.

Is there anyone that cannot be a Foster Parent?

There are certain specified offences that prohibit people being Foster Parents. This does not mean that because you have a criminal record you will not be considered. Discuss these issues with us.

Does my health matter?

Applicant Foster Parents cannot be turned down ‘on health grounds alone’. It is important however that you are fit and well enough to care for children and have no disabilities, congenital illnesses or, diseases that would mean you could not continue to care for children safely.

Is there an age limit?

There is no upper age limit but you do have to be over 18. What is important is that you are able to care for a child or young person and be available to a child placed with you like any other parent would be.

Do I get paid?

We pay an attractive fee/allowance package that recognises your skills, experience and the professional contribution you make to caring for children and young people. There is a fee (profit – for HMRC purposes) element for you and an allowance for the child/children to meet their needs.

Do I have to pay to Income Tax and National Insurance?

This is a complex area; you can either pay an accountant or, if you are competent, complete your own self-assessment to determine your responsibilities. There is a very good tax free allowance that recognises the importance of Foster Carers and many Foster Carers pay no tax or National Insurance because they do not earn above the threshold for paying these.

Can I take children placed with me on holiday?

We expect Foster Carers to treat children placed with them as if they were their own; this means taking them on holiday, visits to other family and an inclusive approach to caring for children as you would your own children.

What next?

If you have a spare room and feel you could make a difference to a child and the energy, enthusiasm, determination and that ‘stick ability’ factor, why not ‘contact us’ and make an initial enquiry for further information. Alternatively complete the contact enquiry on the website and we will contact you within 48 hours.

We cover many areas in both the East & West Midlands and surrounding counties and have partnership agreements with over 14+ Local authorities.