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Find answers to the most frequently asked questions
Blue Sky is an independent fostering agency. We recruit, train and support a highly professional team of foster carers, and we offer their foster homes to local authorities who regularly refer placements to us.
Local authorities do have a small team of foster carers but rely on independent agencies to offer additional support, especially when a child has additional requirements or a sibling group needs to be kept together.
Although both involve caring for children and young people, they differ. Whilst fostering is a temporary arrangement with the goal of the child or young person returning to their birth home, adoption is permanent, and your adopted child will have the same legal status as if they were your birth child. On occasions, foster placements are classed as the 'long term' and can mean you are responsible for their child or young person's care until they reach age 21.
We understand giving up a regular job is a big step, but please be reassured you won’t feel isolated. Aside from your fostering role, you’ll have a network of other Blue Sky foster carers living nearby. Social events, informal gatherings, meetings and training will soon fill your life, and you’ll be with people with the same fostering experiences as you. You won’t be lonely or bored, we promise!
Ideally, it takes four to six months. Still, we depend on prompt cooperation from other agencies such as your local Education Department, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), Health Visitors and GP, and your personal reference providers. If they respond quickly, time is well-spent. If you have had previous relationships, we will need to chat with your former partner(s). If you have children, they will be part of the assessment process, as will anyone close to you who will have a significant presence in your home, such as a parent, sibling or friend. This is a very time-consuming part of the assessment, but it is vitally important we make sure you, your family and your foster children are safe and happy.
Whilst gaining references, we will visit you many times to write your 'Form F'. This is a lengthy document describing your childhood, your relationships with your parents and those around you, your work experience and, if you have children of your own, your parenting style. It is an extremely detailed document, covering virtually every aspect of your life. Many carers find this an interesting and enjoyable experience, but it takes time. It will be updated to reflect any changes to your circumstances throughout your fostering career, such as your increased experience of fostering caring, moving house or a new pet coming to live with you.
When you become part of the Blue Sky team, you will not only receive friendly, supportive and professional service. You will also benefit from a competitive weekly foster carer allowance (per child), depending on the foster placement type and your fostering experience. Plus, you'll receive 14 days of paid holiday (respite) a year (21-26 days for TLC foster carers).
Becoming a foster carer is a life-changing experience for you and your family, so we offer support in many ways as part of our team. From your initial training, we offer you bespoke training to support the children in your care. In addition, we offer a comprehensive out-of-hours service provided by our qualified, supervising social workers who will know about you and your foster child(ren). During office hours, everyone in your local Blue Sky team will support and help you.
We all need help at some point, so, If you wish, during your assessment, we can 'buddy' you with one of our experienced foster carers living near you. Your 'buddy' will support you and enable you to experience life as a foster carer. They will be there to answer any questions and remain your 'buddy' for as long as you wish – even after you become a fully-fledged foster carer! They will still be part of your local support network.
Every region has local support groups, a regular chance for you to get together with other Blue Sky foster carers living near you, and there are lots of Blue Sky events arranged for you, your family, and the children and young people in your care. You are never lonely when you foster with Blue Sky!
That's quite a difficult question for us to answer. It depends on so many variables. Undoubtedly, they will have to share their parent(s) with another young person, which can be difficult. But, equally, it can be a hugely positive experience for your child(ren), and lifelong friendships are formed. It just depends on the people involved. The assurance we can give you is that we always consider the needs and situation of every member of your household before we talk to you about a potential foster child. This is why we ask you to be very open and honest with us about yourselves and your home life. For example, if your child is having trouble at school or you are worried about them, we will be prepared to safeguard them from a potentially unsuitable placement.
One of the biggest issues for foster carers' children is saying 'goodbye' to a foster child when they move on. That says a lot about their experience as part of a fostering family.
Our foster carers own children made this short film explaining their experiences as birth children who fosters.
The agency will review each case individually, and the assessment will depend on the age of the children to be fostered. Still, in all cases, ponds must be covered or adequately protected from children falling in. In the case of swimming pools, these will be assessed individually. In the case of a fixed trampoline, this will need to have age-appropriate protection surrounding it to prevent injury.