If you have decided to foster, you are in for an exciting and rewarding career helping children and young people. But it comes with some major life changes. Existing foster carers give an insight into what you can expect and tips on how to deal with change.
Fostering is fantastic. It helps children and young people who, for whatever reason, can’t live at home with their birth families. As a foster carer, you will make many changes to your life and how you do things. But what does this mean in practice?
You’ll Deal With Things You Never Thought You Were Capable Of
Children in care have often been abused or neglected, two things that have a significant impact on them. The consequences last for a long time, and although your love, care, and attention is part of the solution, on its own it’s not enough.
But, when memories become too much, or something reminds them of their trauma, foster children can ‘act out’.
You CAN And WILL Deal With These Crises Without Thinking Twice And You Will Do It Right
Your home will be full and busy from time to time! It will be full of laughter, tears, and tantrums, just like every other family home.
But it is more than that;
- Social workers – depending on the type of foster placement you offer, you may find that social workers phoning or calling around for meetings is a commonplace event. There are times when this can feel intrusive. Social workers will, as far as possible, respect your wishes about when to call and so on so don’t be afraid to ask.
- Other professionals – you may find you deal with a range of other people too from counsellors to police officers, education officials and so on. As well as attending meetings on or behalf of your foster child, they too may wish to visit you at home.
People Aren’t Always Polite Or Understanding Of Fostering
There are many misconceptions about foster care, what it is and who can foster. Unfortunately, this means that some people can display a low-level of tact and diplomacy when it comes to asking questions.
They may ask why a child is fostered, why you are looking after them, or ‘are they being adopted?’, along with ‘why don’t you adopt them?’.
You can expect lots of questions when you foster. There will be some question you can and will answer, but many of them are ones that for reasons for confidentiality, you can’t. You will learn to have ‘standard answers’ to common questions.
You Will Need To Hone Your Organization Skills
Looking after a child can mean you spend more time organizing your home and life in general. You will have to schedule your day around school, meetings, training and support groups, for example.
There are other factors too such as a lot more washing, a bigger shopping basket every week and all the usual household tasks to organize.
There Can Be A Lot Of Waiting
We hear that there are thousands of children looking for foster families. We are also told that as a system, fostering is buckling under the pressures placed on it.
And yet, as a foster carer, depending on the type of placement you offer, you may find gaps of weeks between one placement and another.
This is because the needs of some children can be complicated and in order for them to get the right start in the fostering system, they need to be with the right foster carers.
Fostering is a fantastic thing for anyone to do, whether they are single, married, gay or transgender because it is not what you are but who you are that makes the difference to a child.
FCA Scotland is a leading fostering agency currently appealing for more foster families to join them in offering safe, nurturing homes to vulnerable children.
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