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Foster carers and adopters receive financial, emotional and practical support.

Adoption support
You will have your own social worker throughout the assessment process who will prepare you for adoption and will help you through the matching process. Once you have adopted we continue to offer support. Somerset has an Adoption Support Services Advisor, specialist adoption support workers and an Educational Psychologist that you can call on for information and advice. The support workers have close links with therapeutic and other support services in the area that they can signpost you to.

We also offer on-going training and social events.

All adopters have free membership to Adoption UK that provide advice, support and training.

From May 2015 a national Adoption Support Fund has been introduced. This fund will help families get the additional support they need. Find out more here.

Foster carers support

Allowance, fees and progression
A fostering allowance is paid to foster carers to cover the needs of the child. Information on the current rates can be found on the Allowances and Fees sheet in this pack. Part of the allowance is a contribution towards extra utility bills that come from having an extra person living in your home, such as gas, water and electricity bills as well as phone calls and wear and tear on appliances.
The rest of the allowance is for the child or young person’s food, clothes, trips, pocket money etc. There is one extra week’s money paid for the child’s birthday towards a present and a celebration and there is one extra week’s money paid at Christmas for a present etc.
During the summer holiday, two weeks extra allowance is paid in instalments to help with extra expenditure and trips in the school holidays.

From June 2014, all mainstream foster carers have been paid a weekly fee and can progress on a payment scale when they build up their experience and attend training. The fee recognises the commitment that foster carers make to children in Somerset. The payment levels are included in the Allowances and Fees insert in this pack.

Fees are paid to foster carers on the specialist schemes in recognition of their need to be home based or the demands of the child or young person they look after. Please see the Allowances and Fees insert for the latest rates.

Mileage or public transport costs can be claimed when you go to meetings, contact with birth parents, school and medical appointments, plus clubs and activities for the child.

Practical and emotional support
You will have your own social worker that will visit you regularly and be available to help with any issues or difficulties that may arise. If you have an emergency or concern out of normal office hours you can call the Emergency Duty Team (EDT) who will offer advice and support.

We provide ‘Skills to foster’ preparation training as part of your assessment and there is an annual programme of ongoing training to help you build up your skills. See the training section for more details. We also arrange events and support social events so you can meet other foster carers and share experiences.

If you need a break we may be able to provide respite care.

You can get support if you are having problems with a child’s school or you are concerned about anything to do with their education. Your social worker can advise on this. You can also receive help and advice on any health concerns and health care services from a dedicated Health Practitioner. And you can get help and advice from a psychologist if a child is having emotional difficulties, including techniques you can use to avoid and manage challenging behaviour.

We provide an insurance policy for foster carers which covers theft or material damage by a child or young person to a carer’s property.

All foster carers have free membership to Foster Talk which provides legal advice, financial and tax advice, a counselling helpline called Fosterline, discounts, an online forum – plus much more.

Somerset has a Foster Carers Association run by foster carers for foster carers. The Association aims to bring foster carers in Somerset together, providing them with a stronger voice that could influence and develop support services in the county. Carers will benefit by having opportunities to come together, sharing ideas and social networking that will develop the service for them and children in their care. Read more here.

Somerset also has a Consultative Group of foster carers who meet quarterly to discuss service developments and issues that may be impacting on foster carers.