Support for foster families and children in care

Find out about the rewards of foster care and the support you, your family and children in care receive fostering with Northumberland

Whether you are new to fostering or experienced, the Northumberland team is here to support you every step of the way.

As a foster carer you’ll have your own dedicated supervising social worker. They help with child placement, development and training, and general day-to-day support. Any child that is staying with you also has their own social worker, so you’ll have a network of professionals around you. 

As well as your social worker, you’ll have a network of professionals, support groups, and foster families to help you. Your family and friends are part of your support network too.

We’ll always be at the end of a telephone line, buddy you up with an experienced foster carer, and give you financial support, and discounts for venues and activities. 

Beyond this, you will have free access to:

  • 24-hour emergency telephone support
  • a secure professional email, website, and document store
  • free training and skills development programme
  • a buddy mentor
  • a fee paid every week and generous fostering allowances
  • local support groups and a network of foster families 
  • exclusive access to the Max Card Scheme - discounts for activities and venues 
  • PLUS loads of benefits and additional advice with a Northumberland FosterTalk membership
24-hour support is available for emergencies if a young person is in danger of harm or you’re dealing with an urgent situation out of normal working hours.

The team offers advice, guidance and support on the telephone and, in critical circumstances, can visit you depending on their resources.
​We usually try to maintain children in their current school, but sometimes they need to move for safety reasons.  Our services help fostered children and young people find places at school and give them additional educational support when they need it.

Education is a key part of a foster carer’s supporting role. Our virtual school provides additional support for looked-after children and young people, which includes:
  • ensuring that looked-after children are prioritised and fast tracked wherever possible through school services within the council, e.g. school admissions
  • promoting the education of looked-after children
  • supporting schools and social care staff in the education of looked-after children
As a full-time foster carer you get a fee each week, 52 weeks a year, regardless of whether you have a child staying with you.  When you are caring for a child, you will also receive a fostering allowance on top of your fee. 

A lot of agencies only pay a joint fee and allowance when you have a child living with you - so if you do not have a child living with you, then with other agencies you would not receive a fee.  With Northumberland, the fee is separated out and paid every week, so you have a regular income.
Foster carers can currently earn up to £183 each week.  Foster carer fees are not taxed and depending on your household circumstances, you could also claim additional benefits and discounts which would be applicable if you were not in work.

The fee level depends on the skills and resources you’re offering as a foster carer .  

Different pro rata allowance rates apply for short break and respite placements.

Our 24/7 emergency foster care scheme pays differently at £363 per week with time dependent allowances.  This scheme will suit those with significant work experience with young people.

Fostering allowances
All Northumberland carers receive a generous fostering allowance when they have a child placed with them which covers the needs of the child, e.g. clothing, food, activities and pocket money. 
  • Up to £219 per week per child
Double fostering allowances are also paid for holidays, birthdays and Christmas, or similar religious events for looked-after children.

Further financial support is available depending on the individual needs of the child. 
Tax, holiday and pay queries
Mainstream foster carers can choose to take up to four weeks' paid holiday.  However, our carers tend to take a fostered child on holiday with them if suitable.  

Northumberland foster carers work on a self-employed basis and are usually eligible for any benefits that they would have got if not working.  For specific information about the tax and benefits that apply to you and your household, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or tax office.

The health of children in care can be a significant issue because of past experiences of abuse, neglect or poverty.

We assist you in making sure fostered children's health needs are looked after and supported by medical professionals. 

The Northumberland health team helps foster carers make sure that their health needs are looked after through health assessments, action plans and support from medical professionals.
All foster carers receive comprehensive training, free of charge, as part of the application process.  Once working as a foster carer, your social worker will agree a personal development plan, identifying your specific training needs.

You will find attending the various training courses in the foster carer calendar an invaluable form of support; learning and sharing experiences with foster carers and other professionals.   In addition to the full annual programme, you have access to online training and a foster care specific library of resources. 
There are various standard training modules that all carers must complete as part of the national standards.  These include:
  • induction
  • first aid
  • equality and diversity
  • health and safety
  • health and well-being
  • recording
  • safe handling of medicines
  • safeguarding
  • safe caring
Further qualifications
Northumberland foster carer courses are often validated and can be included on your CV for other work with children and young people.  The service links with different training partners and we encourage national qualifications like the diploma in child care, which is equivalent to NVQ level three.
The national foster carer charter sets out:
  • the foster care service roles and commitment
  • what foster carers can expect from the foster care service
  • what the foster care service expects from foster carers
Click here to read the charter.

Northumberland County Council is proud to have attained the 'Foster Friendly Status' award by national charity The Fostering Network.

This means that anyone working for Northumberland County Council will receive additional support in their fostering role.

Fostering Friendly Logo - the fostering network

Foster carer group meetings take place regularly across Northumberland.  They are a great place for staying up to date on changes to policy and procedures, learning from other families and getting specialist advice from experts on fire, home safety and education.

Unlike most fostering agencies, we offer group meetings that are close to you in a variety of locations across the county.  You’ll be invited to a group near you when you’re approved as a foster carer.

In addition to the service support groups, our foster carers meet up on a more casual basis for coffee mornings and family get togethers .

The service organises family trips and get togethers across the year to help children and families get to know each other to places like Whitehouse Farm and Flamingoland.
Information for children and young people about what to expect from foster care in Northumberland and the support you will receive from us.

Your foster carer and social worker are key people you can talk to. You may also choose to speak to professional people within your school or with whom you are involved. 

Your foster carer’s supervising social worker will visit your foster family home regularly. They are another professional person who you can talk to. They are based within the foster care team, who can you contact to: 

Foster care team

Family Placement Service, 3 Esther Court, Wansbeck Business Park, Ashington, NE63 8AP
Telephone: 01670 62 62 62

Advocacy services

Click here to see information about advocacy services for looked after children and young people. Advocacy is when someone helps you to have your say or speaks for you, if you are struggling to be heard. Advocates support you to be involved in decisions that affect you. 

The Mind Of My Own app, which can be used on standard PCs as well as most smartphones and tablets, is a key tool for you to use as part of your time in care. The award-winning app helps you express your views more clearly, get more involved in meetings, and make better decisions with your social care team. 

What if I am not happy with my care?

Please try and talk with your foster carer first. Questions and worries can usually be sorted out easily. If this is not possible, talk to your social worker. You may want to make a complaint about children’s services, education, the health services, or other things. Your foster carer can help you sort out how to go about this, or may be able to act for you. 

Further help can be offered by our advocacy services. Click here to see information about advocacy services for looked after children and young people. 

Foster carers are people who want to help look after you while you’re unable to stay with your family. They will do all they can to help you feel safe and cared for, and help you stay in touch with your family and friends.

The foster care team within social services prepare, train and supervise our foster carers so they can look after you properly.  They and your social worker are part of the council’s children’s services team and will work with you and your family to give you the best care they can.  While most young people’s experiences are positive, it’s important to know your rights.

You have the right…
  • to feel safe and comfortable
  • not to be spoken to in a nasty or hurtful way
  • not to be made to feel bad about yourself
  • not to be hurt in any way
  • to be talked to and listened to about plans or decisions made about you
  • to be helped in talking about your wishes and feelings
  • to be offered the right sort of school and play activities
  • to be helped to keep in touch with all important people in your life, providing it’s safe.  The only exceptions may be if someone has to be with you when you meet with family (called supervised contact) or where we think that contact may be unsafe for you
  • to make a complaint if you feel you’re being treated unfairly
  • to advice from an independent advocate for advice and support. They will talk to people on your behalf if you want them to. 
Please click here to access information about leaving care:
Northumberland Care Leavers page

What if I don’t want to leave my foster carer?
Northumberland County Council's ‘Staying Put’ scheme is there so you can continue to live with your foster carers until you’re at least 21. This means you can continue in further education and training while being supported in a family setting.

Staying Put is an option for young people and carers if they want to continue living in the foster home from the age of 18 and 20. Please have a look out our Staying Put flyer here.
What happens when I go to live with my carer?
Going to live with strangers can be scary. All families are different, so you will feel strange at first. Foster carers understand this and will do their best to make you feel welcome and comfortable.

Talk to your carers. Tell them how you feel and what you do and don’t like. Ask them questions, e.g. do I get pocket money? Can I choose what to eat? Can I use the phone?

Foster carers will tell you the rules and routines in their house so you know what to expect. Don’t worry if people make mistakes. It will take a little time to get used to each other and work things out together.

Foster carers receive information about you and your family so they know something about you. They will welcome you bringing your favourite and familiar things with you.

We try and choose a foster family that is as close to your family as possible. We want you to have as much contact with your family and friends as you can. It would be good if you could carry on with the same clubs, youth clubs, etc.

How can I find out more about being looked after?
You can talk to people around you who know about social care, like your social worker or your foster carers social worker.  You can also use the Mind Of My Own app to help you think about things and connect with different people.

We have guides for children who are looked after by our foster carers.  One is for children aged under 10 and the other is for children and young people aged 10 and older.

Link to our new looked after children's guide to be added shortly
This document gives you information about where you are living, keeping in touch with important people, how you can have your say, meetings, your health and your rights.  This guide isn’t a replacement for talking to people like your carers or social workers but it might help with some questions that you have.

How can I find out about more services and information for young people in Northumberland?
Click to view the Northumberland County Council information page for young people.