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Fostering - frequently asked questions

Fostering - frequently asked questions

Why should I foster with Clackmannanshire Council instead of an independent fostering agency?

The Council is responsible for every child in Clackmannanshire who is unable to be cared for within their family. Clackmannanshire Council foster carers are the first to be considered when a child needs a foster home, and as a result you are likely to have placements most of the time.

Caring for a local child ensures that they are able to grow up in their own communities, maintain friendships, family contact, and sibling relationships.

The benefit of fostering for the council is access to coordinated support from a local ‘team around the child’ in respect of a child’s wellbeing, support needs and education.

The child you care for will have an allocated social worker employed by the council who will work closely with your supervising social worker, and as a foster carer you will be able to access support from Educational Psychology Services for any child you have placed with you. You will also be able to access support from qualified social workers out of hours.

Who can foster?

You can apply to be a foster carer if you are over 21 years old, have the legal right to work in the UK, have a spare bedroom, and think that you have the qualities needed for the role.

We welcome applications from people from all backgrounds, religions and ethnic groups. You can be any gender or sexual orientation, single, married or cohabiting. The most important thing is that you are able to provide a child with a safe and loving environment.

You do not need to own your own home or be a parent. Being on benefits is not a barrier to fostering.

Do I need specific qualifications to foster?

You do not need any specific qualifications to foster. We acknowledge all applicants bring different skills and life experiences and welcome that diversity of different backgrounds. We would expect applicants to have some experience of children and young people whether that is
as parents, members of the extended family, work experience or volunteering.

You will receive training to help you and your family build upon the skills you already have and develop new skills needed to foster. You will be provided with relevant training, support groups, and support from your social worker.

All applicants will require to undertake Skills to Foster training in preparation for, or as part of the assessment process.

Can I foster if I have pets?

Having pets is not a barrier to becoming a foster carer. It is recognised that pets can be an asset to a foster family. Every animal is different and part of the process of becoming a foster carer includes a pet risk assessment, taking into account factors such as their temperament and behaviour.

Will a criminal conviction stop me from fostering?

Not necessarily. You will require to disclose all criminal convictions when you first apply to foster, and complete an enhanced disclosure check. Minor convictions are not a barrier to fostering, these will be explored further as part of the assessment process.

Can I foster if I have a physical or mental health condition?

Your health will be considered when applying to foster and any health conditions are taken into account as part of the assessment process. The most important factor is whether you are physically and psychologically fit enough to cope with the demands of caring for a child – this
may influence the age of the children that you are approved to care for.

Will my religion impact on my application to foster?

It does not matter what your religion is and this should not affect your application to foster. The assessment will consider how you can accommodate and meet a child’s needs which include their religious and cultural needs.

You will need to consider how you would feel about caring for a child who may have a different belief system to your own, or exploring topics that may feel contrary to your own beliefs and religious or cultural values.

I smoke, does that prevent me from becoming a foster carer?

Clackmannanshire Council encourages all applicants to seek support to stop smoking. All foster carers must be able to provide a smoke-free environment for children. Smoking is not a barrier to fostering, provided you do not smoke within the home.

It is Clackmannanshire Council’s policy not to place children under 5 with foster carers who smoke.

Are foster carers paid?

All foster carers receive a weekly fostering allowance which is intended to cover the costs of looking after a child in foster care, such as clothing, food and pocket money. Additional allowance is paid at key times of the year eg birthdays, Christmas, some holidays.

In addition to this Clackmannanshire Council pays foster carers a weekly fee on top of the allowance. This is in recognition of their time, skills and experience.

Are foster carers employed by Clackmannanshire Council?

Foster carers are treated as self-employed for tax purposes and will require to complete self assessment tax returns.

There is a generous tax scheme foster carers can use called Qualifying Care Relief. The vast majority of foster carers do not pay tax from their fostering income.

When a foster carer registers as being self-employed they also have to make provisions for Class 2 National Insurance Contributions.

Further information about tax and National Insurance is available on HM Revenue and Customs website.

I work full-time. Can I still foster?

Working full time would impact the type of care that you would be considered for. For example, someone working full time may be able to offer short breaks, or provide a Supported Lodgings placement to a young person moving on from a residential or foster care placement.

Foster carers are expected to be available to care for children, attend meetings, training, support groups and to support contact between a child and their family. This usually requires one carer in the household to be available on a full time basis in order to to be flexible and
responsive to what individual children need.

It may be possible for a foster carer to work part time in some circumstances if caring for school age children.

Can I foster and claim benefits, if so what would the impact be?

If you currently claim welfare benefits you are likely to be able to continue to claim while fostering.

All fostering payments are disregarded as income for the purposes of Universal Credit. Universal Credit also allows a period of eight weeks between placements where the foster carer will not be subject to any work-search requirements. DWP benefits such as income support, fostering payments are also disregarded as income.

For HMRC benefits such as tax credits, only taxable income is taken into consideration which for many foster carers is zero.

Can I foster if I have previously had financial problems?

Previous financial problems should not prevent you from fostering. You will need to be able to show that you are now financially secure enough to provide a stable home for any children who are placed with you and that you are able to manage the fostering allowances paid to you.

For Further Information Contact

Family Placement Team
Kilncraigs, Greenside Street, Alloa, FK10 1EB
Tel: 01259 225085 / 450000