What is general fostering?
The majority of our foster carers are approved as general foster carers who provide short-term or long-term foster care.
What can I offer?
Most general foster carers look after one to three children – depending on the number of rooms they have available and their individual circumstances.
As a short-term foster carer you will be willing to look after a child or children for a few days or several months or a year or so until they are ready to move on to a new home or return to their family. As well as providing vital care and a secure home you will have a key role in supporting that child when they do move, which could be to a new home with adoptive parents or long-term foster carers or back to their family.
Some children in Surrey need a stable and loving home with long term or permanent foster carers until they reach adulthood and beyond. These children are usually over seven years old and for a variety of reasons, adoption isn't possible for them. As a long term foster carer you would be matched with a specific child and be approved by the fostering panel to care for that specific child.
In some circumstances, depending on the needs of the child, you may be able to apply for Special Guardianship which sits between adoption and fostering, giving the Special Guardian shared parental responsibility until the child reaches 18.
Some of the young people in Surrey's care are unaccompanied children seeking asylum. They often arrive speaking little or no English and have very few possessions. They've frequently endured a long and difficult journey to get here, leaving war or persecution in their home country and they will have been separated from their family members and their friends. Your role as a carer will include supporting them with their asylum application to the Home Office.
What support and training do I get?
As a general foster carer you will attend the Skills to Foster training course as part of your assessment. You will also be matched up with a buddy – an experienced foster carer who will be able to answer your questions and support you through your approval and when children are placed with you. You will also be able to attend support groups where you will meet others who are also being assessed to become foster carers. These groups were introduced recently following recommendations by our existing carers and have proved really popular.
You will also have the opportunity to continue to attend training provided to all foster carers after you have been approved and to continue to access support from your buddy and via our range of support groups.
What will I be paid?
As a short-term, long-term general foster carer or as a carer of unaccompanied asylum seeking children you are paid an allowance based on your skill level. To progress to a higher skill level you will need to attend training or demonstrate other ways of learning.
Skills level 1
All foster carers start on this level unless they have a significant amount of experience caring for other people's children. You will receive a payment to meet the costs and needs of caring for a child.
Per child per week
- Aged 0 - 10 - £168.28
- Aged 11 - 18 - £254.45
Skills level 2
At this level, you will receive an additional skills allowance. You can progress to level 2 once you have completed the Skills to Foster training and have attended three further half-day/evening training courses. We anticipate that most foster carers will reach this level within six months of being approved.
Per child per week
- Aged 0 - 10 - £168.28 + £81.55 (skills allowance) = £249.83
- Aged 11 - 18 - £254.45 + £81.55 (skills allowance) = £336
Skills level 3
To reach this level, you will need to complete five half-days of skills development, these can include half-day evening training courses and support groups. You could also demonstrate learning from other sources, such as reading a book or watching a relevant film or documentary and reflecting on it with your supervising social worker.
Per child per week
- Aged 0 - 10 - £168.28 + £113.83 (skills allowance) = £282.11
- Aged 11 - 18 - £254.45 + £113.83 (skills allowance) = £368.28
"My foster carer made me feel part of the family, there was no difference in the way she treated me and her two sons. She gave me a lot of opportunities to feel like a normal child, I hadn't had that before." (Young person in general fostering.)