Foster/Substitute Carer Recruitment

1. General

Foster and adoptive carers are an essential and by far the largest resource for looked after children/young people. They are, nevertheless, an increasingly scarce resource, due to the growing expectations upon their services and time.

Carers are part of the essential partnership that should exist between the social worker, birth family and the child/young person. Each must strive to work with the other and foster carers or adopters are an essential linchpin in this process. To succeed, carers need to provide:

  1. A healthy and nurturing environment to enable appropriate development into adulthood;
  2. A model to develop good parenting skills;
  3. Security and stability;
  4. An environment to enable growing independence and maturity;
  5. A skill to sustain relationships;
  6. An environment to promote academic ability and other skills;
  7. To provide the skill to cope with change and crisis;
  8. A sense of confidence to give as well as take and feel compassion/ love;
  9. To provide an ability to value themselves and others;
  10. The personal resources to seek self-fulfilment;
  11. A positive understanding of their background.

These cannot be achieved without:

  1. Support, assistance and guidance from the child/young person's social worker;
  2. Training and support for the carer and their family from the Family Placement Link Worker;
  3. A clear plan and set of objectives based on a thorough assessment of the child/young person's needs;
  4. A reasonable degree of co-operation from birth parents and others;
  5. A commitment from the carer to working in partnerships.

2. Recruitment

The recruitment policies of fostering and adoption services need to reflect general trends in society.They should also reflect the policies of the Authority in relation to Equal Opportunities. Of paramount concern are the needs of children/young people as service users. In responding to the requirements of children/young people the Authority would wish to take a flexible response to their needs in the context of its agreed policies.

In keeping with the implementation of the Equal Opportunities Policy, carers will not be disadvantaged by issues of race, gender, disability or sexual orientation.

It is important to target recruitment based on the needs of children/young people and to restrict applications, on occasions, of couples seeking adoption of White/European babies. From time to time the Adoption Agency will suspend receiving applications for this type of placement as not to do so will only raise unfair hopes on the part of applicants and direct resources away from seeking more needed resources such as placements for teenagers.

It is also important to identify as carefully as possible, those enquirers who, for one reason or another, are not yet in a position to undertake fostering. Some applicants will need counselling out or, if appropriate, their attention drawn to other possible ways in which they could offer a service, for example supported lodgings, respite care etc.

Appendix 1: Flowchart