Emergency Foster Care: A Complete Introduction

Foster Carer Watching TV

Emergency foster carers play an incredibly important role in housing children in urgent and potentially difficult situations. Whether it’s for one night, a couple of days or sometimes even longer, emergency foster care is pivotal in providing a safe and secure place for a child to stay at short notice.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at emergency foster care and what the role involves.

What is emergency foster care?

Emergency foster carers provide short-term care for children and young people who need a place to stay. In an ideal world, foster placements would be planned much further in advance, but, in certain circumstances, this might not be possible. This could be due to a range of reasons, including the sudden illness of a parent, an accident in the home or if they are exposed to an unsafe environment.

With these scenarios taking place at any time, day or night, things often move very quickly with emergency placements. As soon as the carer confirms willingness and availability, social workers will then move the child to the home where they can stay while more long-term solutions are arranged.

Having this option provides social workers the ample time to assess the situation at hand and determine the ideal next steps for the child while they remain in a safe and caring environment. Once a social worker has assessed the child’s situation, it will then be decided whether the child will return to the family home, or whether a more long-term foster home should be sourced.

This type of care is often seen as a transitional, and it is the carer’s responsibility to support the child as much as they can as they face what can be a very stressful period.

Why is emergency foster care important?

There is no hiding the fact that emergency foster care can be an unpredictable and demanding endeavour. However, it is also gratifying to be able to enrich the life of a vulnerable child by providing them with a supportive environment when they need it the most.

Providing a safe space and sense of unrivalled security for a child when they are at their most vulnerable takes a lot of hard work, but it can be all worth it to help a child be happy and content.

Who should apply to be an emergency foster carer?

It is essential to carefully consider whether you have the qualities to make an ideal emergency foster carer as it can be a more challenging role. Unlike regular foster care, emergency foster care is unique in the fact that carers can be called upon at a moment’s notice. So, emergency carers must be open to being flexible and able to act at a moment’s notice.

The children coming to stay may also be confused and frightened because of the change in environment, so carers will also need to be able to offer kindness and patience despite the stressful circumstances.

Alongside this, emergency foster carers must also have a spare bedroom available in their home where a vulnerable child will be able to feel safe and comfortable when spending the night. Activities and toys for a range of ages, alongside enough food for an extra mouth, is also useful to have for any last-minute placements.

How much does emergency foster care pay?

Similar to other forms of fostering, emergency foster carers will receive a weekly fee that covers all of the needs a child may have, such as clothing, food and transport.

Here at Olive Branch Fostering, we provide our foster carers with a minimum of £321 a week. Depending on how long you have been fostering with us for, your rate will increase each year to a maximum of £405 per week.

How do you apply to be an emergency foster carer?

Applying to become an emergency foster carer to provide a child with a lifeline through a difficult period is an incredibly selfless act. That said, there is still an application process in place to ensure that vulnerable children will be able to access the right safe and supportive care.

To start the application process, you will be invited to fill in a few forms which will provide us with some initial key details. A member of the team will then organise a home visit where you’ll be able to have a more in-depth conversation to answer any questions and start the assessment process.

Your assessment will be done in stages where a member of our team will carry out further home visits while you go over key details, such as your background and your ability to provide care for a child. Other statutory checks will also be carried out, such as a DBS and Identity check.

You’ll then be able to start training where you’ll learn about a range of topics, including CPR and how to prepare for a placement. Finally, you’ll be invited to meet with an independent panel who will review your documents before deciding that you’ll be a good fit.

With emergency placements coming in at unpredictable times, there’s no guarantee of how long it will be before you’re asked to host a child. In addition to this, placements are often chosen based on where you’re based and what skills you have.

For example, you may be close to their school, which will reduce disruption for them. Alternatively, they may need specialist support based on the trauma that they may have experienced.

Find out more about emergency foster care

Could you provide a lifeline for a vulnerable child at their time of need? Start your application today with Olive Branch Fostering. Our friendly team are on hand to answer any questions you may have, as well as support you in starting your fostering journey.

To make a start, contact us on 01706 558910 or drop us an email and we’ll be in touch.