What is sanctuary-seeking fostering?
Sanctuary-seeking children arrive in the UK without parents, usually after a long and arduous journey, and often without being able to speak English. And for them all, there’s a long anxious wait as they begin the process of applying for the right to live in the UK.
Sanctuary-seeking foster care means providing a home for a vulnerable asylum-seeking child, who often arrive in the UK without their parents and are scared and alone, speaking very little English. As a foster parent for sanctuary-seeking children, you'll be able to change the course of their life; providing safety, stability and nurture when they need it most.
Around 90% of the children who arrive unaccompanied in the UK are boys, aged over 14, and from countries including Albania, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Syria. Quite apart from the language challenge, these children are homesick, scared and disorientated. They've often experienced war, atrocities and famine and may not even know if their parents are alive.
As well as providing a safe and loving home, the role of foster parents here is to ease children into a new culture, support their development and help them throughout their application for asylum. We’ll also ask you to help the child keep in touch with his or her own culture. Needless to say, we can provide much of the specialist support you need, including access to legal professionals, teachers and specialist trauma therapists. Our training also includes courses to help you understand more about the experiences and culture of the children you’re looking after.
This role requires a specialist level of knowledge and skill so we ensure all our foster parents are trained to the highest level and provided with ongoing 24-hour support by a team of social workers, therapists, fostering and education advisors.
The Department for Education and the Refugee Council have published a guide about this subject: Supporting Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children: information for foster parents.
How do local authorities place children with families?
When a child comes into foster care, the local authority becomes responsible for their health, safety and wellbeing, and while local authorities have their own 'pool' of foster parents, sadly they generally don't have enough to cope with the rising number of children needing a foster home. That's where specialist independent fostering agencies, like Fosterplus, come in.
We work with local authorities across England and Scotland, and receive hundreds of referrals every day. Our dedicated referrals team review each referral and identify any foster families who could meet the child's needs. If all parties agree - the foster parents, their Fosterplus social worker and regional manager, and the local authority - then we'll work closely with the local authority to make arrangements. Wherever possible, this will also include initial introductions between the child and family.
What are the different types of fostering?
We offer many different types of fostering so we can continue to meet the ever-changing needs of children and young people in foster care. These include short-term or interim care (up to 2 years), long-term or permanent care (more than 2 years and until the child turns eighteen), emergency, respite and more.
We also provide foster care placements that are considered specialist, including parent and child fostering and caring for children with disabilities or those seeking asylum. Learn about the different types of fostering below.
Who can become a foster parent?
Almost anybody can apply to become a foster parent - the only initial requirements are that you're over 21 years old, you have the legal right to work in the UK and that you have a spare bedroom that's always available to a child in your care. Of course, you'll also need to be kind, caring and dedicated to making a difference to a child.
Other than that, we welcome applications from people from all backgrounds, religions and ethnic groups. You can be gay, straight, bisexual or transgender, single, married or cohabiting. We also support foster parents with disabilities and health conditions, who are able to meet the needs of children in care.
So if you've ever wondered whether you could foster - we can't encourage you enough to take the first step and speak to our friendly team.
How do you become a foster parent?
The first step is to have a chat with one of our friendly advisors - either complete our online form or give us a call on 0800 369 8512. We'll speak to you about the role, take a few details and answer any of your questions.
When you're ready to progress, there's a standard application and assessment process that you'll need to go through to become an approved foster parent, including home visits, background checks and references, training and attending a fostering panel. You can find out more about each step below.
Other types of fostering
Giving a child a stable, loving home when they can't return to their birth family.
In Scotland, a short-term placement is called Interim care and can last up to 2 years.
Caring for a child for more than 2 years and often up until they turn eighteen.
In Scotland, the local authority may apply for permanence if a child won't be returning home.
Caring for a child who's placed with another foster family to give them time to rest.
Welcoming a child at short notice who's often distressed - usually a night or two.
Parent & child
Giving a parent the crucial skills they need to care for their baby or young child.
We urgently need more foster parents with the time, energy and space to care for siblings.
We're looking for foster parents who can care for children with a range of disabilities.
Could you support a young person in care through their crucial teenage years?
Can't find what you're looking for?
One of our team is available to talk to you over the phone to answer any of your fostering queries.
You can get in touch by filling out our online enquiry form with any queries that you may have.
Your local team
Find contact details for your local office team. We’re always happy for you to pop-in and chat.