Foster carers come from widely differing backgrounds, ethnic groups and cultures. Your marital status, age or sexual orientation does not determine your suitability to be a foster carer.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT IS THAT YOU HAVE:-
- Relevant life experience.
- Good health – both physically and emotionally.
- A stable, clean and tidy home (this can be either owned or rented).
- At least one spare bedroom.
- If you have your own children they need to be over the age of 2 years.
- Good communication skills, and the ability to be able to ask for help, when you need it.
- At least one foster carer to be at home full-time, or to be in employment which is flexible/has reduced hours.
- Confidence that you will be able to be financially stable when you have no-one in placement.
- Access to your own transport.
- Flexibility and willingness to look after a wide range of ages, and children and young people with varying needs.
- Ability to work with others, i.e. the child/young person’s family, their social worker, and other professionals involved in their life.
- A willingness to work with diversity, i.e. a belief that everyone is an individual, and should be cared for and treated with respect.
- A support network of family and friends, who are willing to assist you with the fostering task.
- Recognition that fostering is a profession. Therefore, ALL4U will expect you to act professionally, and will in turn respect you as a fellow professional.
- And most importantly – to have lots and lots of patience, and the commitment to care for a child/young person, no matter what.
WHY ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT BECOMING A FOSTER CARER?
Becoming a foster carer is a life changing decision. It will have a profound effect on your life, and that of your family, friends and neighbours. Above all, it will have a huge impact on any child or young person whom you care for.
Before you decide whether fostering is right for you, it is really important that you have considered thoroughly all the reasons why you are considering taking this big step, which will change so many aspects of yours and your family’s life.
Why do I want to foster? Is it because I really think I can make a difference to a child/young person’s life, or are there other reasons, e.g. to help make my own family ‘complete’?
How will my immediate family feel if there is a child/young person in the house sharing my time and attention?
How will I get support for myself? Do I have a strong network of family/friends, who are reliable, and willing to give emotional and/or practical help?
Am I willing to work closely with social workers, and other professionals, who will have regular access to my home?
Will I be able to ‘let go’ when a child/young person moves on? Will I be able to accept decisions made by others about their future when I might feel I am the person that knows them better than anyone?
One other thing you should ask yourself honestly is ‘am I doing this because I have heard people get well paid for fostering’? There is absolutely nothing wrong in getting paid for what you do – in fact you cannot be expected to provide a comfortable, secure and happy home life for a child/young person if you do not have enough cash to do so. It is fully accepted that, if you are giving up income, in order to become a foster carer, then you need adequate recompense, enough to enable you to provide a foster child/young person with security and to meet all their needs. However, it must not be the main reason for your decision to foster.
Have you thought about how/why a child/young person comes into care and your reactions to this? For those new to fostering it is easy to assume that you are ‘rescuing’ a child/young person from a traumatic situation, which might involve neglect, abuse or family breakdown. Perhaps you think they will be relieved, and grateful to you, for providing them with a lovely home. This is not usually the case. More likely, however, bad their situation was, they will love their family unconditionally, and often through ‘rose-tinted’ glasses. Therefore, you may be dealing with someone who is resentful, unhappy, angry, and who takes out their frustrations on their foster carers. Would you be able to deal with this, and not take it personally? We understand how stressful this can be, and ALL4U Fostering has qualified staff on duty 24/7, to help with any issues you may have.
Fostering is challenging. Children/young people can become disruptive, and display extreme behaviours, as a result of negative parenting, loss, bereavement, past abuse or change. They may appear to settle well for a time, and then for no obvious reason, become disruptive, and even aggressive, in the foster home, or at school. It is hard for foster carers to keep this in perspective, and be resilient enough to assure the child/young person of their continuing support and commitment, both of which are vital if a good outcome is to be achieved.
Being a good foster carer is a full-time profession. You will need to have realistic expectations of what is involved in the task you have undertaken. Whilst the rewards can be tremendous, when everything works well, you must also be prepared for disappointments. If you would like to speak to someone about the realities of fostering, to help decide if it is right for you, please just call us on 01959-535025.