Looking after a foster child – like caring for any child – can be challenging. We offer a full programme of training and support to give foster carers the skills and confidence to do their job effectively. We help you bond with your foster child and develop a relationship that can last a lifetime.
Since October 2018, we have introduced more therapeutic support for carers of children who have experienced trauma or neglect. We have appointed additional clinical psychologists and mental health coordinators to support families and foster children. We have also improved respite for foster families and provided greater financial backing for carers to extend their homes so they can provide more foster places.
Many foster children have experienced trauma in their lives. Our psychologists and mental health coordinators help foster carers and families understand this trauma so they can offer love, support and care without judgement.
Our clinicians help you develop a trauma lens, so you can understand your foster child's attitudes, behaviours and responses. Everything we do is about healing that trauma, creating better relationships and supporting them to achieve their potential.
Training and development
Different foster carers want different things from their role. Some see it as an extension of their existing family life, others see it as a new career choice. We tailor our training offering to meet the individual needs of each carer. So, whatever your aspiration, we can provide the development tools you need to achieve it.
All foster carers have a personal development plan, which outlines their training needs and scheduled courses for the coming year. Training starts before the carer receives their first child and continues throughout their fostering career.
When you are ready to have a foster child placed with you, we will tell you all about their personality, education, behaviour and emotional and physical health. This helps you decide which areas you want to upskill in and which courses to join, either on our online learning platform or in person.
We encourage carers to complete three training modules annually. Our modules include practical training like first aid, as well as many therapeutic and behavioural courses that will give you the skills to reparent a child in a trauma-informed way.
You can choose targeted training if you want to specialise in a certain type of fostering or for a particular age group. You might choose a course about caring for children with disabilities or you could join a module on managing teenage behaviour.
We know our foster carers are busy, so we make all learning convenient and accessible. Many of our courses are delivered online or via distance learning, and those run in person are usually during school hours. These are a great chance to develop professionally as well as build friendships and gain insights from other carers.
For more information, visit our foster training portal on the Essex Foster Carers Association website. (New site visitors will need to complete a few short registration steps.)
Foster carers never feel alone with our support. We make sure our support wraps around you, your foster child and your whole family.
From social workers and clinicians to support networks and peer groups, there is always someone you can go to for advice, guidance or a helping hand.
Here are the ways we support you as a foster carer.
A dedicated social worker
All foster carers are paired with an expert social worker who is already familiar with the foster child and their family.
They will help you make sure your foster child feels safe and comfortable, develops strong relationships and maintains a good education and social life. Your social worker will visit you and your foster child regularly to check in and help keep everything running smoothly.
24-hour support line
You can call us at any time. Outside of office hours, you can call our 24/7 support telephone line and reach an experienced team member who will help you with anything you need.
Support networks and peer groups
We are proud of our networks and groups that make foster caring more than just a job. It's a way to create a new life for a child while building friendships with like-minded people.
The Oasis Network
The Oasis Network gives foster carers the chance to learn from experienced carers. They provide mentorship, reassurance, respite and advice. You can come together to discuss and bond over all aspects of fostering - both the highs and the lows - with others who know exactly what you're talking about.
Our support groups meet online regularly and offer a great chance for foster carers and social workers in each area of Essex get to know and support each other. They're a chance to learn, encourage, celebrate and share. Many foster carers develop strong friendships and support networks via these groups.
“You’re never alone”
“Fostering is one of the best things in the world you can do,” says Darren, 51, who has been fostering with his wife Karen for more than 25 years.
"You’re never alone,” emphasises Darren. “You’ve got your supervising social worker, who you can talk to at any time. There’s monthly support groups; there’s the Essex Foster Carers Association, which is made up of other foster carers, and then there’s the national Fostering Network, which has an advice line that’s available to members.”
To chat to foster carers like Darren about life as a foster carer, call the Essex County Council fostering team on 0800 801 530, or attend one of our drop-in fostering information events.
Essex Foster Carers Association (EFCA)
The EFCA is an independent foster carer-run charitable trust which supports all foster carers at Essex County Council. It holds regular members' meetings, offers carer-to-carer support and helps resolve issues on behalf of carers.
The association is represented on Essex County Council’s childcare committees to ensure foster carer views are heard when changes are planned. It has a national voice via The Fostering Network and its connections in Parliament. Members’ benefits include a quarterly newsletter, events for looked after children and carers’ birth children, peer-to-peer support and advice, and counselling for carers' own children.
The Fostering Network
We pay for all Essex foster carers to join The Fostering Network, the UK’s leading fostering charity and membership organisation.
The organisation aims to support those who foster, improve opportunities for fostered children and young people, and provide expert guidance to all fostering services. It offers a members’ helpline, telephone counselling, a magazine, updates on national developments, and training.
Foster carers' ambassador group
Our foster carers are an invaluable part of the Essex County Council fostering team. We value their input and actively listen to what they have to say. In the past, they have worked closely with us to shape our foster carer recruitment strategy.
Our ambassador group of carers embodies this team approach. Group members regularly represent and support us in the community, at events and during recruitment campaigns.
Family involvement events
Successful foster placements depend on the commitment of the whole family. We offer a full programme of family-friendly activities and events to encourage your family to get involved with fostering.
The schedule varies every year and includes outdoor summer activities and a Christmas party.
Home adaptation programme
Once you are a foster carer, you can apply for financial support to extend your home. This can help you create the space and facilities to look after more foster children.
What you can earn
We pay foster carers £350 to £580 per child per week (including allowances), depending on the age and needs of the child. We offer 28 days of paid holiday, too.
Find out more about what foster carers earn.
Refer a friend scheme
We award our existing foster carers up to £1,030 per successful referral. There is no limit to how many people you can refer.
or to talk to our friendly recruitment team call 0800 801 530
“The support from Essex County Council is really good. There is so much training available for virtually every situation you find yourself in.”
Kaylie, Essex County Council foster carer since 2016
“[Essex County Council] social workers have a thorough understanding of the children they work with and are passionate about improving outcomes for them.” Ofsted, January 2019
“The young person that lives with us is very much part of our family. My children have really embraced having somebody live with us and he has a fantastic relationship with them.” Daniella, Essex County Council foster carer and birth mother of two.