Just as with other roles you take on, there are lots of reasons you may get involved. - most carers agree though that their key reason for getting involved is "making a difference" to a child.
There is no doubt that fostering is intense, rewarding and challenging and so the training, development and fostering payments that Hampshire’s foster carers receive is a vital part of them being able to do the job
All foster carers receive an allowance for every child that they are fostering. Hampshire’s fostering allowances are in line with the Fostering Network’s recommended rates, and reflect the true cost of looking after someone else’s child. This allowance is to cover the cost of caring for the child, and the amount varies according to the age of the child and your registration as foster carer.
Your fostering allowances do not usually affect any benefits you receive, although you should ask your Benefits Advisor about your specific circumstances. Fostering allowances are considered to be taxable income, however the tax-free threshold is generous.
All foster carers are expected to undertake a minimum of training to ensure they are able to foster confidently. The training is held frequently, within Hampshire and is very accessible and down to earth. Additional training is offered in a broad range of subjects that will support foster carers development and help them achieve the best outcomes for the children in their care and develop themselves and their own skills. There are also opportunities to specialise in areas where you have a particular talent or interest and also support other foster carers to grow and develop.
As you would expect from a large local authority, the support offered by Hampshire is extensive. It includes regular meetings of local support groups, the chance to meet with other foster carers in your area socially and informally and groups and activities that include your own children if you have them.
Support also encompasses help for you and your placements with specific areas where you may need expert advice or assistance - be it health or education, access to a range of therapeutic support services and interventions.
All this plus the basics - support is available to access 24/7, from a duty team, your own family placement worker and an out of hours team, as well as foster carers who organise to offer telephone support.
Depending on your skills and experience, Hampshire County Council offers foster carers a skills fee. The fees are in recognition of the carers contribution and are not part of the child’s allowance. Most carers join at Skills Level 1, which does not attract a fee payment.
For those with significant experience who can demonstrate the outcomes they have achieved for children in their care, an independent skills appraisal process benchmarks carers against a set of competencies on which any skills payments are based.