Fostering & Adoption
Fife Council believes that children have the right to live in a family. If they are not able to live with their birth family, fostering can provide a positive alternative either until they can return home, move to independence or adoption.
What is Fostering?
Fostering is a way of providing care for children, in a family setting, who cannot live with their own families. Children can be cared for by a Foster family for days, weeks, months or for the rest of their childhood depending on their circumstances. Foster Care provides a safe, secure and stable environment for these children, working with them, their families, Social Worker and other agencies.
Who are the children?
Children who need Foster Care are aged 0-18 and become looked after for a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes the problems at home can be resolved quickly. Other situations can take much longer to sort out. For some children, it is not possible for them to go home. These children need to be settled in a long term or permanent Foster Care home. Some younger children’s needs will be best met by being adopted.
Who can Foster?
Foster carers must be at least 21 year old. They come from all kinds of backgrounds and can be single, married or living in a stable partnership. They must be able to provide a range of skills and experiences including:
- Ensure the safety of the child
- Provide appropriate physical and emotional care
- Work in partnership with Social Workers and other agencies
- Help children to make the most of their education
- Promote the physical and mental health of children
- Acknowledge the need to support a child in maintaining their family relationship.
- Respect heritage and diversity
Becoming a Foster Carer
Looking after other people’s children is a very important job, so the task of choosing Foster Carers is very thorough. There are meetings, interviews and visits when information is provided to interested parties to help them decide if Fostering is right for them and their family. A number of references, Police and Health checks are carried out and preparation groups attended. A personal assessment has taken place. This is very detailed, and can be challenging. It requires openness, trust and explores the ability to demonstrate a range of skills.
A full report is then presented to the Fostering panel and a final decision above approval is made by the Head of Service for Children and Families. The whole process takes approx 6 months once an application is accepted.
What Fife offers Foster Carers
Foster Carers provide an essential valued service for Fife Council and are provided with remuneration, support and training. Each Foster Carer has their own Link Social Worker from the Family Placement Services team. Business meetings and training are provided and Fife Foster Care Association also provides support. They have regular supervision and reviews to ensure they continue to meet the rigours standard required.
Who are Fife’s Foster Carers?
Fife has a range of Foster Carers, with varying levels of skills and experience. The more Foster Carers we have, the more choices we have for each child, to make sure we place them with the best family to meet the individual needs. Foster Carers provide an essential service for children and young people who are looked after by Fife Council, and we greatly value the care they provide to some of our most vulnerable children.
Adoption in Fife
Fife Council believes that children have the right to live in a family. If they are not able to live with their birth family, adoption can provide a secure, legal alternative throughout childhood and beyond.
What is Adoption?
Adoption is a way of providing a new family for children who cannot be brought up by their own parents. An adoptive parent assumes full legal and parental responsibility for a child. It is a commitment for life. The child becomes a full member of the adoptive family and assumes the same rights and privileges as if they had been born to that family.
Who are the Children?
Children who need to be adopted will mostly have been looked after in Foster Care and can’t go back to their own family for a variety of reasons. They are likely to have had troubled early years and they may have been neglected or abused. Very young babies may have been affected by their birth mother’s use of drugs or alcohol during pregnancy which could impact on their future development. Sometimes brothers and sisters need to be placed together. Many of these children will present challenging behaviour and some may need specialist support such as therapy to help them understand their past. The traditional concept of healthy young babies being offered for adoption is now very rare and forms only a small element of children being adopted.
Who can Adopt?
By law there is a minimum age of 21, and certain offences exclude people from adopting. Single people, married couples or those living in a stable partnership are all eligible to be considered as prospective adopters. Adopting a child is a life changing experience for all involved and Social Workers need to ensure that Adopters have the necessary skills needed to care for these vulnerable youngsters. These include:
- Keeping children safe
- Understanding the child’s identify and being open to keeping links with birth family if appropriate.
- Being adaptable and emotionally resilient
- The ability to communicate with children
- A willingness to learn and seek support
- Valuing and supporting a child whist understanding the significances of past experiences.
Becoming an Adoptive Parent
Adoption is one of the most life-transforming experiences that can happen to a child and their adoptive parents. We seek adopters who can engage in the assessment and preparation process openly and honestly and look at their ability to meet the child’s needs throughout childhood and beyond. This is done by carrying out a range of checks and references, attending preparation groups and a comprehensive personal assessment. A full report is then presented to the Adoption Panel, and a final decision about approval is made by the Head of Service for Children and Families. The whole process takes approximately 6 months once an application is accepted.
What Fife Offers Adoptive Parents
Following approval, each family will be allocated a Link Social Worker from the Family Placement Services team, who will support them during the wait to identify a suitable child, then throughout the lengthy complex process of matching and finally placing a child. This process can take months due to legal procedures and prospective adopters may find this a difficult time.
Based on an assessment of the child’s needs, financial support (adoption allowances) can some times be paid, depending on the Adopters’ financial circumstances.
The Link Worker will continue to support the family at least until the Court Order is granted, and the child is legally adopted. In some circumstances, this contact can continue at the request of the Adoptive parents.
In the longer-term anyone affected by adoption (adopted people, adoptive parents, birth family members) can request a post-adoption support assessment.
Why does Fife need Adoptive Parents?
Each year since 2008 we have placed approximately 20 children in adoptive families. Care planning for children has identified that this figure may double due to the increasing number of children becoming looked after who cannot return home.
It is imperative that we increase the pool of Prospective Adoptive Parents who are able to take on the challenges of caring for a child or children with complex needs who may not find it easy to develop trusting relationships with adults. They need to be able to remain committed to the child through both good and challenging times. Fife Council will provide support to help achieve this, and be on hand to celebrate the success and rewards when the hard work pays off and the child is able to make progress in a secure setting.
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