If you are a foster parent with a foster child already in your care, your home would have been checked and reviewed as part of your foster assessment.
But what happens if you choose to move house while caring for a foster child? Is it allowed? And what processes need to be in place?
The question can I move house with a foster child isn’t a simple one to answer, but in this blog, we’ll share as much information as possible to help.
Your home and foster assessments
As part of your foster assessment, two of the steps involved is a home visit from a fostering advisor and several visits from one of our social workers. During your home visit, the advisor will answer any questions you might have, provide you with information about fostering, and will check and make sure your home has suitable space for a child, including if you have a spare bedroom.
Our social worker will visit your home between eight and ten times to collect information about you, your family, and any skills or experience you might have that will benefit your fostering journey.
You need to demonstrate that you can provide a safe and secure environment for children, and your home plays a big part in this.
Can I move house with a foster child?
In most cases, if you are planning on moving house or doing building works to your home, your fostering service won’t be able to proceed with your application until all major building work has been carried out. However, you will still be eligible to apply and start the process, it just means final approval cannot be granted until final house checks are completed. It is also normal to be asked that you have no plans to move home within 12 months of your foster child being placed with you.
This is because you need to be able to show that you are settled in your home and have the means to provide enough space, as well as a spare room, for a child to come and live with you.
There are several variables that need to be considered if you are planning on moving home while caring for a foster child, such as the location of your new home (for example, is it in the same town, county, or local authority), does the new home have ample space and spare bedrooms to accommodate your foster child or children (all foster parents need to have a spare bedroom for each child they foster), and if the child is of school-age, will they need to change schools?
Then there’s the question of the foster child being able to keep in contact with their birth family. As the main goal of fostering is for one day the child to return to their family, if you move far away from them, it would make keeping in touch and visits harder.
There is also the possibility of moving to another county or area where the local authority is different, which is not always possible if you already have a foster child placed in your care.
Moving home with a long-term placement
A long-term fostering placement is when a child or young person lives with a committed family, normally until they reach 18 years old, but it can also be classed as anything over two years.
Children who require long-term fostering are usually unable to live with or return home to their birth parents, for a number of reasons, such as abuse, neglect, or the illness or death of a parent.
One of the main benefits of long-term placement is it provides stability to the child and gives them the opportunity to move on and forge a new life in a safe, stable, and loving home. And it gives foster parents the chance to have a big impact on their foster child’s life and develop a deep relationship and bond.
Because many of the children requiring long-term foster care come from a traumatic background, the need for stability and a sense of feeling settled are extremely important. Your home is an integral part of this. They need to feel that this is their home and feel comfortable living in it. Moving home while caring for your foster child could disrupt this, and cause additional challenges with their emotions and behaviour.
If you do decide to move with a long-term foster child, everyone involved with the child’s care plan needs to work together to ensure the best possible outcome for your child. This includes taking into account their welfare, wellbeing, schooling, and contact with their birth family (if applicable) isn’t disrupted.
How can I move home while fostering?
The best option if you want to move home while fostering a child would be to wait until you are between foster placements. This is obviously much harder if you have a long-term foster child, but for shorter-term foster placements, it may be possible.
However, if you do choose to move in between placements, your new home would still need to be reviewed to make sure it is suitable for future foster children to live in, including how much space there is and whether there are spare bedrooms.
Moving home with a foster child
When you become a foster parent, prior to being approved, you need to be able to demonstrate that you can provide a safe and suitable environment for children - your current home.
While it’s unlikely that your foster service would begin the approval process if you are planning to move home, we’re here to help support you, and as long as you have the space in your home and love and care to give, you can make all the difference to a vulnerable child’s life.
Give us a call or speak to your social worker if you have any concerns and we can have a chat about your intentions to make sure you and your foster child get the best outcome.
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