It is an extraordinary way to make a difference, but even though fostering is becoming more talked about, there are still many misconceptions, some of which may surprise you…
1. You Can Foster Whilst Renting A Home
Fostering agencies hold recruitment events all the time, and something they are commonly asked is can someone foster if they don’t own their own home?
The answer is yes, you can foster while living in rented accommodation. The important thing is a stable home with a bedroom for the foster child.
2. You Can Be Male, Female, Gender-Fluid, Single, Married, Gay…
The most important aspect of foster care is that the carer provides a safe and nurturing environment in which a child can grow and develop. Children will also need to explore their past in order to move on, and anyone with the right outlook can be the right person to help them do this.
3. You Don’t Have To Already Be A Parent
There is still a misconception that to foster, you need to have or have had children of your own. It is true that many parents foster, some with their own children living at home and other parents whose children are now adults.
But you don’t have to be a parent to become a foster carer, so don’t let this put you off from applying.
4. You Can Say No
There is an assumption that once someone has been approved as a foster carer, that they become nothing more than a resource to the fostering agency. And that means a social worker turns up on your doorstep with a child that you have to take in.
Foster care doesn’t work like this. Wherever possible, foster care is planned, as are moves from birth family to foster family, from one foster family to another. And as a foster carer, you can say no.
(Social workers will not turn up on your doorstep with a foster child – they always call and if you say yes, give you time to prepare for your new placement!).
5. Age Isn’t A Barrier
Most fostering agencies have a minimum age of 21 years to be able to foster, but there is no upper age limit. In fact, more mature foster carers bring a whole heap of life experience that can be ideal when offering foster care.
6. Fostering Is More Common Than You Think
Over 63,000 children are living with foster families in the UK. Foster carers say it is the small things that matter – the first smile, the first time they take your hand, the first time they laugh and achieve things they never thought possible.
7. People Can Be Very Undiplomatic And Very Insensitive
“Gosh! You’re brave!” or “Why? Where’s his mother?” are just two things that our foster carers have had said to them, all within earshot of their foster child. You’ll need to develop a thicker skin and some stock answers to such questions and statements.
8. It’s Not All Roses Around The Door
It is easy to see fostering through rose-tinted spectacles. There are times when the rewards are great, but there are pitfalls and potholes, tantrums and tears as part of helping a child to recover from what can be a traumatic start in life.
9. You’ll Need To Be Truly Non-Judgmental And Empathetic
If or when you hear a child’s story, it is easy to disparage their birth parents or family for hurting or abusing them in the way that they have. This is not the answer. Instead, you need to be genuinely non-judgemental and empathetic, two factors in helping a foster child to move on in life.
It may look a long and daunting process, but becoming a foster carer with Fostering People will be the most single rewarding thing you will do in life.
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