Below are some of our most frequently asked questions about foster care and Key Assets. For further information, please contact us to speak to a member of the team.
1. Who can become a foster carer?
Anyone can apply to become a foster carer with us. We recruit foster carers who are single, married, co-habiting, divorced, gay, lesbian and heterosexual. We also recruit foster carers from different religions, cultural and ethnic groups.
There are a few requirements we ask for before you can become a foster carer, which you can learn more about on our ‘who can foster’ page.
2. Can I foster if I have a criminal conviction?
A criminal conviction from your past would not necessarily disqualify you from fostering. It depends on the nature of the conviction and when it occurred. It’s standard procedure for us to check criminal records at an early stage in the application process, so we do like to discuss any convictions you may have as early as possible. Any information shared with us remains strictly confidential at all times.
3. What checks are carried out on me and my household?
Prospective carers must have a satisfactory police check and are required to obtain a free ‘Working with Children Check’ that includes a criminal record check for offences involving children.
A health questionnaire and medical examination by your GP are also needed. You will also be asked to provide three personal references including one from a family member, who will provide written references and be interviewed as part of the assessment process. A standard home safety check will be carried out in your home to ensure it is a safe place for a child or young person.
Find out more by visiting our ‘steps to foster’ page.
4. If I’m the primary foster carer, do other members of the household need to be checked?
Key Assets carry out checks on all adult members of the household. Anyone sharing your home is likely to have some involvement with the child. Couples living together will both be required to apply to become foster carers and undertake the necessary checks and training.
5. Could a child I foster share a bedroom with one of my own children?
We will generally only place a child in a home where he or she will have their own bedroom (unless they are a young sibling group).
6. Can I still go out to work and be a foster carer?
Key Assets provides care to a range of children who have varying needs. Some children will need a carer to be at home full time, whereas other children will manage with a carer working full or part time. All carers will be expected to respond to a child’s needs as any parent would.
7. Can I choose how long I want children and young people to stay with me?
We discuss with you the different types of fostering arrangements that are needed for our young people and you decide with your assessor which types of placement would suit you best. If you would prefer respite, emergency or short term placements, you do need to be aware that it isn’t always possible to know at the beginning of a placement exactly when a child will move on.
8. Can I choose which age group or sex I would prefer to foster?
Yes, you can. However, you are far more likely to have continuous placements if you are willing to take children of all ages. There is currently a shortage of foster carers for teenagers and children of school age in particular. We also need carers with sufficient space to take sibling groups.
9. How much will I know about the child or young person before they’re placed with me?
We discuss every placement with our foster carers and it is your decision whether to take a young person. We will provide you with as much information about the young person and his/her background as possible, including any challenging behaviour and how to manage it. However, sometimes we have very little information, especially in an emergency. But we always try to find out as much information as we can as quickly as possible.
10. Will I be taxed on the fostering allowances I receive?
Foster care allowances are exempt from taxation and are not cited as income for any purpose, including yearly tax returns, applications for Commonwealth benefits or when applying for loans from financial institutions.
You can find out more about specific allowances on our ‘allowances’ page.
11. What is the difference between a non-government fostering agency and the Department for Child Protection?
The demand for fostering outstrips the ability for the Department for Communities, Child Protection and Family Support, to supply this service. Non-government fostering agencies such as Key Assets work in partnership with the Department to fill the gap. We have our own staff to ensure that the needs of the carers and children get access to the highest-quality services.
12. What sort of children and young people are referred to Key Assets?
We care for children and young people from a wide range of situations. These children may have complex histories and display challenging behaviours. Our carers receive high levels of support and training in order to help these children.
13. Who is responsible for taking the children to school, the doctor, etc?
We would normally expect carers to undertake these tasks. If you, for some reason can’t, your social worker would endeavour to make alternative arrangements where possible.
14. Are we allowed to smack foster children?
No form of physical punishment is acceptable under the regulations that govern fostering. This would include any form of smacking, slapping or shaking. We provide training to all our carers on alternative and effective ways to cope with any difficult behaviour.
15. What sort of help would I get with a child who has special needs or a disability?
If a child has ongoing medical needs, this will be explained to you before the placement is made and you will receive all the assistance necessary. This may include being provided with specialist equipment or training.
16. What sort of support will I get if I’m finding it difficult to cope?
You will have your own Key Assets social worker to support you, and an after-hours duty system for support. Support is available 24/7. Key Assets also has a team of therapists and support workers to provide additional support to foster carers and foster children. We provide respite breaks for carers when necessary.
17. What does the weekly payment cover?
Your weekly allowance is intended to cover all living costs such as food, clothes, basic travel, contribution to household bills, pocket money, regular recreational activities, birthday and Christmas gifts. Additional contributions can be considered by the care team based on the needs of the child.
18. What sort of training will I receive?
We will give you foster carer training throughout your fostering career with us, from before you’re approved, to when you’re a seasoned foster carer. Our aim is to help you develop into a confident and highly skilled carer. We encourage all our carers to take our training courses.
19. If I decide to apply, how long will I have to wait before I begin having placements?
We start the assessment process once your application to foster is received. The assessment includes criminal record checks, medical reports and references. The assessment will take approximately 2-4 months. When it is completed and you are approved, you can begin taking placements as soon as you have met with your social worker.