Foster carers come from a wide variety of backgrounds, not just the child care industry. Some have advanced degrees; some have never finished school. Many have spent a portion of their childhoods in the foster care system. All of them want to make a difference in children’s lives.
Fostering is a career, and the qualifications are simple but essential: you must
- be caring;
- have the desire to use your life experience in the pursuit of helping others; and
- have an overriding desire to help at-risk children recognize and fulfill their potential.
You want to do fostering right. Little lives depend on it. Here are 5 ways to do just that.
As is the case in any other line of work, finances are important in the world of foster care, more so in some ways. It costs money to feed, clothe, and otherwise care for children. So if you’re wondering whether foster caregivers get paid, the answer is yes. If you already knew that, you might currently be asking yourself, “How much do foster carers earn, and how does payment work?”
The article “What Do Foster Carers Get Paid?” (https://perpetualfostering.co.uk/how-to-become-a-foster-carer/what-do-foster-carers-get-paid/) from Perpetual Fostering explains that the payment carers receive can be broken down into two parts: an allowance that will cover all the costs of raising and caring for a child, and a reward payment based off your experience and the type of foster placement with which you are currently experiencing.
Make sure you are very clear about the payment structure and what to expect in terms of record-keeping and how often you will receive payments so that you can budget accurately. Develop a close rapport with the worker in charge of your case, because he or she will be your liaison between the bureaucracy and your ability to take care of the children the way they deserve.
Be Prepared To Work
Don’t underestimate the amount of work involved with fostering. While some of the basics are the same as they would be in caring for any child, including your own, there are some very distinct differences, not the least of which is the rigorous application process. Once you’ve been approved, however, is when the real work begins.
Many children placed in the foster care system come with special needs; you will have to provide limitless compassion and tolerance since the child is undoubtedly coming from a difficult situation, while at the same time knowing how to set firm boundaries. Be 100% sure, that you possess the necessary patience and boundary-setting abilities to take on this role.
Communicate With The Biological Parent(s)
Your foster child/children and their parent(s) are confused, upset, and possibly angry, so it is important to communicate with the parents as clearly and as often as possible. The monitoring agency may have restrictions, but most will encourage keeping the lines of communication open. Giving them pictures, having the occasional (approved) supervised visit or meal together, and including the parent(s) in the decision-making process will go a long way towards making the experience a positive and rewarding one.
This is not to say that you should make grand gestures and be overly generous with, for example, money or gifts. It is often the subtle gestures and kindnesses that are most noticed and appreciated.
Keep It Positive
Try to be mindful of how you speak to and about the child’s parent(s), especially when the child can hear. Children are especially adept at picking up non-verbal and verbal cues; it is important that you be aware of your tone, facial expressions, and body language when communicating with or about the parent(s). Speaking or behaving negatively in regard to the biological parent(s) will only serve to cause confusion in the child, at an already confusing time. Regardless of the background of the case, the parent-child bond is still there and should be nurtured.
Although it’s last on our list, this is probably the most important thing. Be fully there for the child. Especially at the beginning, you will have to make yourself available almost round-the-clock, both for meetings and appointments with the monitoring agency, doctors, schools, and other care providers, as well as for the child. It is not uncommon for children in a new environment to suffer from sleep disturbances, fear, anxiety, and a lack of trust. Knowing that they can depend on you to be there will help the child to gradually grow more comfortable and trusting.
It’s not an easy job; but if you feel like you can make the commitment to invest your time, your life experience, and your heart, you will be abundantly rewarded in ways far more precious than money.
If you are interested in even more lifestyle-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels, then we have a lot to choose from.