Why do we need foster carers in Shetland?
Many children in Shetland need to access foster care for a number of reasons. There may be a family emergency and no other adults to help. Some families need respite care while difficulties are resolved. There may be longer-term issues such as illness, drug or alcohol misuse, where parents are no longer available to offer the care that child requires.
Some children may be subject to Supervision Orders by a Children’s Hearing for a variety of reasons from offending to neglect or abuse.
Children in need of foster care vary in age from new born babies to teenagers. There are single children and groups of siblings. All are from families in Shetland with a variety of backgrounds.
There is a range of fostering placements available in Shetland, these types of placements are explained below.
Types of Fostering in Shetland
- Emergency care
- Short term care
- Permanent care
- Respite care
- Private Fostering
- Kinship care
When a child needs to be accommodated out with office hours their care is provided by an emergency foster carer. Generally these will be families with experience of caring for children. The child can remain with the emergency carer for up to three days.
Short Term Care
Short term foster carers look after children and young people for periods lasting from one day up to a number of months. After this time children may move back to their birth parents or, if this is not possible, plans will be made for them to move from their short term foster carers to more permanent placements.
Some children need a permanent foster carer when all attempts to return them to birth parents have not worked. Permanent foster care provides planned placements for children for a number of years, until they are able to live independently. This allows the child to grow up in a safe and supported family environment whilst generally having some contact with their birth family. Children who need this type of care are usually school age up to teenagers.
Respite foster carers look after children for a few days, perhaps over a weekend or evening, to support the child’s family or foster carer. Some families caring for children with disabilities welcome the opportunity for their child to be cared for in a safe and secure environment.
Private fostering is the term used when a parent or guardian places a child, under school leaving age, in the care of someone else who is not a close relative or an approved foster carer, for a period of more than 28 days.
By law, we need to be told about private fostering arrangements. In Shetland you can do this by contacting the Chief Social Work Officer, Shetland Islands Council, Hayfield House, Lerwick, Shetland, ZE1 0QD.
We have a responsibility to secure the welfare of all privately fostered children, so we need to carry out a number of checks. The most important aspect of private fostering is the safety and welfare of the child. These reports and checks are there so that our social work service can give parents or carers the advice and support they might need.
You can find out about our responsibilities in this Scottish Government information leaflet PDF
What role does fostering play in a childs life?
Foster care is a support mechanism for children and families to help them through a period of crisis. The aim is to reunite families when it is appropriate to do so. Foster carers need to work with the child’s family and other significant people in their life.
Some parents need support and confidence to develop their childcare skills, foster carers can help with this where appropriate. Some parents and children may feel resentful and anxious about being placed in foster care, especially if it is against their wishes. Foster carers will need to give them time, reassurance and respect. Children’s loyalty to and love for their families must be encouraged and supported.
Becoming a foster carer
Foster carers come from as many different backgrounds as the children in their care. All kinds of people make good foster carers. You do not need to be married, employed or have any special qualifications. What they do need to have is time in their lives and room in their home to accommodate a foster child.
Foster carers are needed throughout Shetland, we have range of carers who live rurally and a few based within Lerwick. We need a wide spectrum so that it gives us more choice about where children can be placed.
To be a foster carer you must be at least 18 years of age and be emotionally, physically and financially stable. Foster carers need to be warm, compasionate, caring and understanding of the situations that foster children have come from. Foster carers will work as part of a professional team to support the child and their family, make decisions about the child's care and respect the wishes of the child’s parents regarding the welfare of their child. Confidentiality must be respected at all times.
How do I obtain more information about fostering?
Our first step is normally to send an information pack. If you wish to receive a pack please:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or
phone us on 01595 744000
When you register your interest with us, a Social Worker will offer an informal home visit to discuss the process, give you information including the current needs of children in Shetland and help you to consider what fostering will mean for you. We hope this might help you to decide whether you wish to proceed further.
Allowances and payments
As foster carers you will receive an allowance to cover day to day costs of caring for a foster child. The weekly fostering allowance varies depending on the age of the child and is reviewed annually - the figures for 2016/17 are shown below.
|Fostering Allowances 2016/17|
|Age band||Weekly payment||Total
|0 - 4 years||142.86||571.44|
|5 - 10 years||162.73||650.92|
|11 - 15 years||202.58||810.32|
The fostering allowance is intended to cover the cost of meeting the needs of a foster child. It is calculated on the basis of elements for food, clothing, fuel, light, household goods (TV, washing, telephone, etc) pocket money, travel, gifts, clubs and magazines.
This method of payment delegates financial responsibility to the foster carers, and it allows flexibility in spending the allowance as and when the child’s needs require.
Recent changes have been brought about regarding the taxation of foster carers. Information on this can be found on HM Revenue & Customs Foster Care Relief web pages.
SupportWe realise how important support is for our carers, regardless of the type of fostering being offered. As a foster carer for Shetland Islands Council you will have regular contact and access to the following services:
- Family Placement Worker
- The child’s Social Worker
- Out of hours support
- Support Groups and Training
- Fostering Network
Family Placement Worker
Our family placement team consists of 2.5 Social Workers who cover all aspects of fostering, adoption and kinship care. Their role is to provide practical support and advice to carers to assist them in their role of fostering. Contact with your family placement worker will be your main form of support and supervision.
Visits will be arranged between you and your family placement worker to ensure you are clear about what is expected from you as a carer and as support from our service.
The Child’s Social Worker
Any child placed with you will have a Social Worker whose role is to work with parents and foster carers in planning for the child. This Social Worker has overall responsibility for the child. The child's Social Worker will also make visits to your home.
Out of Hours Support
Although the family placement team do not have an out of hours service you can access the generic social work out of hours service if you require immediate assistance or guidance regarding the care of a foster child. This service is provided by Social Workers and Executive Managers to ensure any emergencies can be dealt with effectively until support staff are available to follow up any concerns.
To access this service call 01595 695611 and request to speak with the ‘Out of Hours’ social worker.
Support Groups and Training
All carers will be invited to attend support groups and training being provided by the family placement team. Fostering Network have delivered training in Shetland for our service and this has been well received. There are limited opportuities to access training off island but we do try to ensure a range of training is offered in house.
All prospective foster carers are required to attend the Skills to Foster course which covers all aspects of fostering. This is a preparation course designed to highlight the experiences of foster carers, their family and of children who have been fostered. Due to limited numbers of applicants this course can be offered following approval when it has not been delivered within the period of their assessment.
The Fostering Network provide an independent service for foster carers to obtain advice and guidance on the service they are receiving.
We have purchased individual membership of The Fostering Network for all our foster carers.
More information can be obtained by contacting:
Tel: 01595 744000