The foster carer's handbook
For carers of children aged 11 years and under
Fourth edition

By Ann Wheal with Meral Mehmet

To see sections of this book in a PDF, please click here.

SIGNIFICANT DISCOUNTS are available for multiple copy purchases of this book. Please see below for details.

"A good carer is someone who sits down and listens to you and discusses things with you." A young person's view.

Acclaimed across three previous editions, this handbook can help anyone looking after children aged approximately 11 years and under, including those with special needs, to provide care that equals or surpasses what is required.

"All practice should be based on ensuring 'it is good enough for my child'. We hope this book will help." The authors.

Primarily for foster carers, but also useful in residential care, it is packed with detailed guidance about looking after children, being looked after, being a foster carer and living in a fostering household. It explains the law, procedures and roles of everyone involved; and gives detailed advice on how to manage the numerous large and small things needing attention in any child's life - education, health, money, relationships and much more. It aims to:
  • Encourage carers to work in partnership with the children and their families.
  • Enable children to return to their families when appropriate.
  • Enable carers to meet the full range of a child's needs.
  • Explain the fostering roles and responsibilities.

  • Although there are differences in detail, the governments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all make similar requirements of carers. This book aims to help all carers achieve the expectations placed on them and maintain standards. It underlines and encourages the use of relevant government standards, and gives examples of good practice. (See below for more details).

    A comprehensive guide that can be called on when just about anything arises, it has been developed:
  • For carers to read themselves along with the children they are caring for as well as their own children.
  • To help carers make appropriate decisions, and answer the many questions children may ask about their time 'being looked after'.
  • For use as a 'talking tool': it includes photocopiable supporting activities to help children understand the present, face the future with confidence and, in time, make their own decisions about their life.
  • For use in supervision and training.

  • Anyone wishing to combine this book with their own material can obtain a loose-leaf version from the publisher.

    A4 paperback. 232 pages. 9781905541775. Published 2011. £29.95.


    Substantial discounts are available on bulk purchases of this book, in either paperback or loose-leaf format:
    - single copy £29.95 (paperback only)
    - 25 copies £23.00 each
    - 50 copies £21.00 each
    - 100 copies £18.50 each.
    Terms and conditions apply. Please note, there is a minimum order of 25 copies for the loose-leaf format. Please contact RHP for details, and for prices for quantities other than those listed (tel: 01297 443928; fax 01297 442722; e-mail


    The way England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have been devolved over the past years has resulted in variations on the way each country takes responsibility for social care. This has led to some marked differences, and one such is in the requirement to work with nationally proscribed standards. Please refer specifically to the website for each country's government department for more details. BAAF and the Fostering Network also work across the four countries, and are able to give more details.

    Although there are differences in detail, the governments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all require that carers:
  • Understand the principles and values essential for fostering children and young people.
  • Understand their role as a foster carer.
  • Understand health and safety and health care.
  • Know how to communicate effectively with children.
  • Understand the development of children and young people.
  • Know how to keep children and young people safe from harm.
  • Know the importance of self-development.

  • The aim of this book is to:
  • Help all carers achieve the expectations placed on them and maintain standards.
  • Underline and encourage the use of relevant government standards
  • Give examples of good practice.


    Social workers and trainers in social services, voluntary and independent agencies. Foster and residential carers working with children approximately 11 years and under. NVQ/SNVQ students. Anyone involved in parenting education or family support.


    Ann Wheal
    was a teacher in inner-city schools and colleges before working at the University of Southampton in the Social Work division. Her areas of research were children in care and children leaving care. Ann has been a governor at a special needs nursery and a volunteer in a secure unit. She has published widely in the area of children and families.

    Meral Mehmet is a freelance social work consultant with 30 years' experience in social services, and 20 years in fostering. She has worked with a variety of fostering providers and in a range of fostering and child care related roles, including for social care in Turkey and UNICEF, and has for the past 12 years been a freelance consultant and trainer and for the past 5 years a tutor at Middlesex University.


    The Carer

    The carer's role and task description
    Checks on foster carers
    Fostering panels
    Support for carers
    Foster carer reviews
    The Independent Review Mechanism (IRM)
    Transferring to different foster agencies
    Types of foster care
    Fostering unaccompanied Asylum Seekers and Refugee Children (UASRC)
    Allegations against carers
    Complaints against carers
    Men who foster
    Safer caring
    Independent fostering providers
    Insurance for carers
    Training and guidance for carers and social workers
    Registration of social workers
    Being Looked After
    Being looked after or being accommodated
    Preparations for leaving care
    Working with parents
    Caring for children - fostering
    Caring for children - living with relatives
    Living with a family
    Children with special needs or a disability
    Siblings and family groups
    Young carers
    The children of foster carers
    House rules
    Cover stories
    Missing out on childhood
    Caring for children - children's homes
    The home environment
    Collecting mementos
    Life work
    Special Guardianship Orders
    Helping children to make complaints
    How can carers help?
    Culture, Values, Beliefs and Religion
    Beliefs and religion
    Sam's story
    Emotional and Social Issues
    Listening and being listened to
    Dealing with secrets
    Growing up
    Learning to make decisions
    Encouraging positive behaviour
    What children should know about their behaviour
    Dealing with angry or aggressive behaviour
    Privacy and confidentiality
    Self-respect, self-esteem and self-confidence
    Emotional and social values
    Identifying and dealing with abuse
    Children and domestic violence
    Making and keeping friends
    Coping with a crisis
    Becoming independent
    Education and Learning
    Under fives
    Education and school
    Partnership with parents and carers
    Children out of school
    Managing a change of school
    Education of children with special needs
    Different types of schools
    Special educational provision
    Glossary of terms
    Practical Issues and Information
    Life skills
    Play, hobbies and leisure time
    Staying overnight with friends
    Changing names
    Day care
    Death of a child in foster care
    Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA)
    Children of prisoners
    Health and Wellbeing
    Health records
    Health assessments and developmental reviews
    Specific health issues of disabled children
    Allergic illnesses
    Dental care
    Diet and nutrition
    Drug and substance abuse
    Eye care
    First aid and emergency care
    Foot care
    Hepatitis, HIV and AIDS - blood borne viruses
    Infectious illnesses
    Mental health
    Overactive children
    Personal hygiene
    Premature (pre-term) babies
    Sexual health
    Speech and language
    Temper tantrums
    Toilet training
    Safety and accident prevention
    Meetings, People and Records
    The placement plan
    The care plan
    Children's reviews
    Disruption meetings: when a placement breaks down
    Family group conferences
    Child protection conferences
    Who's who in helping children
    Legal and Other Useful Information
    Going to court - implications and support
    Being in care or being accommodated
    The Children Act 1989, The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 and The Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995
    Court orders in England: what they mean
    Adoption: general information
    Children's Guardian (previously Guardian ad Litem (GAL), Curator ad Litem (CAL) or Safeguarder in Scotland)
    Parental responsibility
    Standards in Social Care


    These reviews are from earlier editions.

    "A source of guidance and practical information... promotes open, honest communication, listening to and involving children."Rostrum.

    "Easy to read and accessible... this book ticks almost all the boxes... thoroughly recommended." Community Care.

    "Provides clear explanations of legal terminology and jargon, which often trip off the tongue of social services' staff with ease, but can leave a foster carer totally perplexed... A practical and helpful book that should always be on hand." Children Now.

    "A veritable treasure trove of both practical information and tools for communicating with children... will enable carers to enjoy helping children themselves to voice and share their hopes, fears, expectations and experiences." BAAF.

    "Simple and jargon-free." Adoption and Fostering.

    "Brilliant. I use it all the time." A carer.

    "Accessible and attractive." Professional Social Work.

    "An invaluable guide." Community Care.

    "A wealth of knowledge on fostering issues." TFN.