Criteria for Foster Carers
1. Individual and Joint
Applications will be considered from married couples, civil partners, unmarried couples or single people.
Applications will be considered from people of any or no religious persuasion.
Applications will be considered from people of any race or culture.
The minimum age for foster carers is generally 21 years. In exceptional circumstances, e.g. with some Family and Friends Carers, the minimum age may be reduced to 18. There is no specific upper age limit.
Applications will be considered from people of either sex and from same sex couples.
6. Sexual Orientation
Applications will be considered from people of any sexual orientation.
7. Income and Work Commitment
Applicants may be in work or not.
Applicants will be required to have a full medical and undergo any further tests/checks that may be required by the Fostering Panel's Medical Adviser. The Medical Adviser will advise on the applicants' ability, from a health point of view, to meet the needs of a child who is fostered. Any comments or advice given by the Medical Adviser must be taken seriously by the applicants and will be addressed during the assessment process.
Applicants are expected to positively promote a healthy life-style which will enable a child to reach his or her full potential. This would encompass attention to nutrition, exercise, routine and hygiene.
It is expected that foster carers will comply with nationally recommended alcohol consumption levels and that children's needs and safety will be met at all times.
It is expected that if applicants have a history of smoking they will have ceased smoking for at least6 months if they wish to be considered as carers of children under the age of 5 yeas of age. Additionally applicants who are smokers must be prepared to abide by Smoking Policy for Foster Carers CS0332.
9. Criminal Convictions
A person who is seeking approval as a foster carer will not be considered if s/he or any adult member of the household is within the category of Disqualified Persons (Foster Carer) unless the application is to foster a child who is already living with the applicant(s) and at least one of the applicants is a relative of the child, in which case the caution/conviction will not automatically preclude the application but will be taken into account when assessing the suitability of the applicant - see Persons Disqualified from Fostering Procedure.Other convictions will not necessarily preclude an application, but this will depend on the seriousness of the offence and how long ago it was committed. All such cases will be referred to the Fostering Service Manager who may also consult the Agency Decision Maker.
Applicants may own their own home or live in rented accommodation.
They will need living and sleeping accommodation appropriate to the number and ages of the children they are seeking to foster. They must be able to offer separate bedrooms for each foster child over the age of 3 years. Only in exceptional circumstances would sharing bedrooms be allowed and this would NEVER be with adult sons or daughters of the foster carer.
It is important that the home environment is child-friendly, welcoming to children, safe and meets reasonable levels of hygiene.
All applicants will have a safety check on their home undertaken by a trained safety assessor. This will include the outdoor space, animals (including the sleeping and toileting arrangements for any pet) and the holding of any firearms. See Foster Carers Accommodation Policy CS0331, and Policy on Pets in Foster Carers Homes CS0333.
The main carer is expected to be a vehicle driver and have access to a vehicle during the day wherever possible. This is particularly important for those children under 10 years of age, who may have frequent contact with birth family (where deemed appropriate), and require transport to school, nursery and activities. HCC's Specialist and Safeguarding Services does not endorse the use of taxis for this purpose. Carers are expected to provide up to 100 miles transport each month. HCC's Specialist and Safeguarding Services will meet the cost of any additional mileage that is required as part of fostering duties through the HCC scheme to reimburse through mileage claims. Carers who live in a major town such as Stevenage, Watford or Hemel Hempstead and are accessible to senior schools may not need to meet the above criteria regarding driving.
12. Child Care Experience
It is important that the applicant who is going to be the main carer has some experience of 'hands-on' care of children of the age group in which the applicants are interested.
13. Family Contact
All applicants must be prepared to facilitate contact between any foster child and his or her parents and significant family members.
14. Provision of Care in line with HCC Procedures, including Safe Behaviour Management
All applicants must be prepared to carry out HCC Fostering Procedures. This includes that:
- No form of corporal punishment is used on any child placed with a foster carer;
- No child placed with foster carer is subject to any measure of control, restraint or discipline which is excessive or unreasonable; and
- Physical restraint is used on a child only where it is necessary to prevent likely injury to the child or persons or likely serious damage to property.