Fostering provides children and teenagers a safe, secure and nurturing environment for a short period of time until they can return to their parents or if this is not possible to live with either an adoptive family or with foster carers long-term.
Our children come from a wide range of backgrounds and all have their own individual needs. They may have experienced abuse or neglect, or their parents may have alcohol or drug dependency, mental health problems, or learning difficulties.
Foster children may have had unpredictable, insecure and unsettled lives, we ensure our foster carers offer children and teenagers the security and stability they need to build themselves a stronger, happier, more secure future.
We are particularly interested in finding foster carers for:
- siblings: Our aim when appropriate is to keep brothers and sisters together. Keeping them together maintains a family bond and means they are there for each other.
- a variety of age ranges: We work with children of all ages but the age group that we most need carers for are age 12 years and teenagers.
- disabled children: We need foster carers who can look after disabled children with physical and or learning disabilities.
- black and minority ethnic children and. There are a number of black/dual heritage children and children from other ethnic backgrounds who are unable to remain with their birth parents. It is important that their own cultural background is promoted and nurtured. We therefore try as much as possible to find carers for these children so that they feel connected to their backgrounds. This includes recruiting parents from a range of faith groups.
- unaccompanied asylum seekers: we have a number of teenagers who arrive in our country to seek asylum, who have been separated from their own family. They need carers who can support them to feel more settled in their new environment.
Meet the children
Albie (9) and Zabrina (7)
Hi, our names are Albie & Zabrina. Zabrina is seven and I’m nine years old…. I love playing football and I would love to be on a proper football team.
Let me tell you more about us……. We are really close, (but we do argue sometimes!) and want to live together
Here’s what Albie says….
The school I go to is my safe place and I am very proud of my work there. I do need routine and boundaries to make me feel safe. Because of my ADHD I can get a bit excited!
Here’s what others say:
People describe Albie as a charming boy.
Here’s what Zabrina says….
I go to the same school as Alex and I`m doing very well there. I like to know what is happening and I like the grown-ups around me to tell me when I’m doing a good job! I love bouncing on the trampoline!
Here’s what others say:
Albie and Zabrina are very close so it is important that they can stay together but still have 1:1 time with the family who looks after they live with. Being able to see their older siblings and parents regularly is important to them too so if we could stay in their local area it would be the best.
Albie and Zabrina need a loving, nurturing family who can support them for the long term.
If we could have our own special wish it would be to have a friendly dog and a trampoline!
“My name is Louis, I enjoy cuddles with my foster carers, I like cooking and making things!”
Here's what others say……
Louis is a caring, active and exuberant 6-year-old boy. He is very affectionate and will often seek cuddles from his foster carers.
Louis has delayed speech but has made significant progress whilst living with his current foster carers. He can at times become frustrated when others are unable to interpret his speech and requires calm and patient parenting to help him feel good about his progress.
Louis requires a very structured week and has planned activities with his foster carers every evening. Louis needs help to develop friendships he finds it difficult to form relationships sometimes.
Louis and his older brother Joel love one another but sometimes their relationship is unhelpful to them as individuals, because of this, the difficult decision has been made for Louis and Joel to live separately. It is vital that Louis’s future carers support this, there will be regular opportunities for the brothers to see one another.
Those that know Louis well feel that he would benefit from……
- Being the only child in the placement
- Access to a garden. Being outdoors is important to Louis and enables him to burn off energy.
- Foster carers who are will organise lots of activities for him every day like cooking, walking adventures in the woods and trips to the park.
- Patient, calm and nurturing foster carers who can help Louis build on the progress he has made in the current placement.
“If I could have one special wish….I would be a footballer when I grow up!”
My name is Lydia, I am 7 years old. I enjoy karate, dancing, cartwheeling, reading and playing with my dolls., I also love to sing, dance and go to the park.
Here's what Lydia’s foster carers say…
Lydia is a lovely little girl who is eager to please and can be very generous. She is good company and loves to joke around. She is active and outgoing and enjoys many different activities and games. Lydia enjoys school and has made good progress academically
Those that know Lydia well feel that she would benefit from…
Lydia has been with her current foster carers in a therapeutic placement for the last 18 months where she has made significant progress. Due to her early experiences Lydia responds more positively to her female carer however, she has, over time been able to develop a warm relationship with the male foster carer. Lydia presents as confident and can be controlling at times, but this masks her underlying anxiety and fear. She is increasingly able to reflect on her behaviour and is now more able to tell her carers how she is feeling.
Lydia has suffered significant trauma in her early years and therefore needs experienced carers who are able to provide a high level of emotional and behavioural support and reassurance to her. Lydia would need to be the youngest child in a family by around 5 years or more. Due to Lydia’s early history she responds more positively to female’s, so any family would need at least one female carer.
If I could have one special wish…. I have a pet hamster and would love to be in a family where I can bring the hamster or where I can have a small pet of my own to care for!
Rupert (6) and Toby (11)
Hi our names are Rupert & Toby, Rupert is 6 and I’m 11 years old…. “We love playing football".
Let me tell you more about us...” We love playing together but sometimes we don’t!!!"
Their foster carers say….
Toby and Rupert are delightful, engaging siblings.
Toby is a chatty and friendly young boy. He has a lot of energy and likes to be kept busy and stimulated. He enjoys helping at home and likes going out. Toby is very passionate about Lego and football!
Rupert is a very friendly, cheeky and loving child. He is generally always smiling, he likes to make jokes and entertain others. Rupert enjoys playing with toys including cars and army games. He likes to watch cartoons on TV, play on tablets watching You Tube videos and play football in the park.
Here’s what others say:
Toby and Rupert have a close relationship although Toby can sometimes demonstrate domination and aggression towards Rupert, but they need to be placed together.
Generally, Rupert is academically on track. Toby is academically behind his peers, but he has generally tried hard in the last academic year and made steady progress.
Toby struggles to make and maintain friendships. He needs support to develop his social skills and appropriate interactions with others.
Rupert has a sensitive and gentle side to his personality. He is very caring and seeks to comfort others when they are upset. Whilst Rupert presents as a confident child, this is only when he is comfortable in his environment, he can be quite shy. He is a healthy young boy, he wears glasses and needs to wear these every day to correct his vision.
Toby and Rupert need a loving, nurturing family who can support them for the long term.
If we could have our own special wish “We would live with a family who enjoy playing, watching and talking about Lego and football as much as us!”
Scene One – Intro
Girl addresses the camera. Images of her doing things with her foster family appear behind her (photo montage?).
Hi! I’m Abby. I’m in year 7 at school and my favourite subject is Art. At the weekend I like doing things with my family, we go swimming, play games on the Wi and take the dog to the park.. Life is pretty normal, but it wasn’t always like this.
Scene Two – The beginning
Girl looks towards the images which get erased, and a new image appears of two adults in an argument.
This is where it all started. My Mum and Dad argued since I could remember, but one day, when I was 7 , Dad left the house and he never came back.
Images of girl looking on from the stairs as Dad leaves the house.
Scene Three – Mum’s Depression
Girl looks at the images as they erase and turn into her Mum sat on a sofa, smoking, looking vacant.
This is what I came home to every day after school. Nothing I did cheered her up, and sometimes she’d get angry with me for no reason. She hardly ever went shopping so some days I wouldn’t get any dinner. I thought I’d done something wrong.
Scene Four – Taken Away
Girl turns to the images again and watches them turn into a younger version of herself being walked out of her house by a social worker.
One day a social worker came and told me that because my Mum was ill she couldn’t look after me. I didn’t know what was going to happen, and I was worried about my Mum too.
Scene 5 – First foster home
Girl looks at an image of herself sitting on a bed in a small room.
I ended up here, at an emergency foster placement. It was only for a few weeks while everyone talked about what was going to happen to me, but it felt longer. There were other children there and everyone was really nice to me, but all I wanted was to have my Mum and Dad back together so we could live as a family again. I knew that wasn’t going to happen though. I didn’t make any friends there, and I wasn’t doing very well at school I just felt really upset and couldn’t concentrate on what I was doing.
Scene 6 – Foster Parents
Girl looks at an image of her foster parents (a family photo)
One day I was given this photo and told I was now going to live with these people. It wasn’t possible to live at Mum’s again, but I do still see her sometimes . I was really scared – I didn’t know who these new people were, so how could I trust them?
Image changes to a car parked outside a house, the girl in in the back seat refusing to get out.
It took a while for them to persuade me to go inside, because I was worried this new family would let me down just like my Mum and Dad. Eventually I went inside and had some dinner. The family were actually really nice, and although it was hard at first, I began to settle in there.
Scene 7 - Now
Images of girl with her foster family.
I’ve been with my foster Mum and Dad for three years now, and life is really different to how it was before. I’m less shy now because I feel at home here, and it’s really nice to be part of a family again. We’re no different from any other family really, we have arguments sometimes, but this family is different from my old one because I know no-one is going to walk out like my Dad did.
When I grow up I’d definitely want to be a foster parent too so I could give other children the same chance I’ve had – to be part of a real family.
I asked my foster mum why she wanted to foster me, and she said at first she was worried how we would all get on, but when she saw me smile for the first time she just knew it would all be alright. She gets lots of help from the fostering people, too. If you think fostering is something you would like to do, you should - just go for it.
Will I have a say in who I foster?
To ensure our placements are successful we always take the time to achieve the right match between a carer and a child, in order to do this we involve the carers and your social worker.
After the child is placed with you we will continue to provide training and support to help meet the needs of the child.
Where are the children from?
Unlike other fostering agencies, Local Authorities directly place the children in their care. The children that we are placing with foster carers will all be Oxfordshire children. We do our best to place these children with Oxfordshire foster families in their local area so they can stay in the same school and keep in touch with their friends. We would always choose to place children with foster carers who we have assessed, trained and support ourselves then we can be more confident that we really know the carers.
Babies with complex needs
Some babies may have complex needs, like foetal alcohol syndrome or drug withdrawal, and some are tube-fed. Other babies are healthy and just need time in foster care while long term plans are made.
We will be working with the family to prepare for the child to go back home. The foster carer's role during this time is important, apart from the day-to-day care you will be working with the birth family which will allow them to have contact with their baby and involved in the child moving back home. In some instances, the child will go to live with another family member or will be adopted.
Fostering babies is very rewarding but can also be very demanding. You will work closely with the birth parents, or if the plan is for the baby to be adopted, you will host introduction meetings with the adopters and the child.
When fostering a child aged under five, one carer would be expected to stay at home with the child. You also need to consider transport, as you will be responsible for taking the child for contact arrangements, meetings and medical visits.
Sibling groups can be difficult to place together because not all foster carers consider fostering more than one child.
Our aim, when appropriate, is for brothers and sisters to be placed together as research has shown that keeping siblings together works out well, resulting in fewer problems and more positive outcomes for the children.
Brothers and sisters are a great support for each other. They will play and occupy one another and also share a history together, helping them to deal with some of the issues around being fostered.
We would urge you to consider sibling groups when thinking about the children that we are going to place with you, we know that the decision to take more than one child is a difficult one but it could be a very rewarding one.
Being a teenager is a difficult time for all youngsters who often feel insecure and misunderstood, but for a young person who has gone through particularly distressing experiences at home, it can be a very unsettling time. Without support and guidance their behaviour and lifestyle choices may seriously affect their future.
You need to be tolerant, patient and flexible. You need to actively listen, help and make sense of the concerns and issues that these young people are experiencing and let them know that you are there for them.
Carers who foster teenagers may not need to be at home all the time, so you can work and foster. What is important is that you do have the time to spend with the young person on a one to one basis to give support and be there when necessary.
As a foster carer of a teenager, you will need to help the young person in your care to develop the maturity and skills they need to become more independent, just as you would your own teenage children. As well as emotional support, you need to help them to develop the practical skills they’ll need for a successful independent adulthood, such as cooking and managing their finances.
Fostering teens can be for either a short period of time until they return to their birth family or for longer until they are old enough to live independently, in some situations the young person may be living at home but need some weekend relief care. Fostering allows them to have a safe environment after traumatic or troubling circumstances
Unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC)
These children may be among the most traumatised and vulnerable children known to the department. Some may have witnessed the death of family members and may be entirely alone. Others may come from countries where the rule of law has broken down and where survival depends on trusting only immediate family.
Most will have had long and tortuous journeys to this country suffering significant hardship on route. Such experiences mean that they will need time, space and help to begin to rebuild their lives. We we need foster carers who can provide a safe, stable and loving home to these vulnerable youngsters.
Fostering relatives and children of family friends
When children are brought up by family members or friends, it is known as family and friends carer.