Fostering is looking after children, giving them an opportunity to succeed in life. It is a rewarding profession both individually as well as financially. Fostering is an experience that can make a positive contribution to a child’s and a foster carer’s life. Foster Carers can make a real difference in a child’s life. Fostering can be demanding, but it is also satisfying, fun and enjoyable.
Fostering is caring or looking after children and young people in your own home when their own parent(s) are unable to look after them. Foster carers are needed to look after children of all ages, from a variety of racial and cultural backgrounds, boys and girls, children with disability, and sometimes brothers and sisters who require placements together.
Approved carers look after children for short and / or long periods of time following the removal of a child from the birth or extended family members or due to a breakdown in previous placement.
The duration of the placement can be weeks or months or years. While children are in foster placement, the foster carer provides appropriate care for the child and meets his or her Physical, Educational, Religious, Cultural, Health, Emotional and Contact needs. When the child is ready to move, the foster carer prepares the child for his / her move to his / her permanent home either by Adoption or Long Term Fostering, or rehabilitation to the care of the birth parent(s) or placement with other appropriate people such as friends and family carers. Older children will need help and guidance in enabling them to move into independent living.
Who Can Foster?
You can become a Foster Carer whether you are:
- Working or unemployed
- Single, married, separated or living with a partner
- With or without your own children
- Male, female, from any race or culture, irrespective of sexuality
- Own a home or a tenant – so long as you’ve enough space
- Younger or older as long as you are over 21 years of age (please bear in mind that there are no legal age limits for becoming a foster carer)
Basic Qualities of Foster Carers
Foster carers should:
- Have interest in children and young people and enjoy their company
- Be good at working alongside other people in the child’s life
- Not have a police record for violence, or offences against children
- Be able to understand, or be prepared to learn, how children behave when they have been emotionally damaged, physically hurt or neglected
- Attend initial and ongoing training and support groups to enable you to undertake the fostering task
- Have a spare room(s) in your home for a foster children.
What Does a Foster Carers Do?
Foster carers look after children and young people in need, providing their day to day care. This involves working in partnership with social workers, other professionals involved in a child’s life, and sometimes parents. Foster Cares make sure that the Government’s outcomes for children are achieved.
These outcomes are:
- Being healthy – enjoy good physical and mental health and lead a healthy lifestyle
- Staying safe – be protected from harm and neglect and grow up able to look after themselves
- Enjoy and achieve through learning – get the most out of life and develop broad skills for adulthood
- Make a positive contribution to the community and to society, and not engage in anti-social or offending behaviour
- Achieve economic well-being – so that they have a good start in life and are able to achieve their full potential and secure employment
Moving to a foster home is usually an unsettling experience. Foster carers need to help children settle in by listening and talking with them. Children need understanding and a secure environment to help them realise why they are living away from home. Sometimes the experiences children have had can lead them to behave in challenging ways. For example, they may be angry, aggressive, or withdrawn.
Some children and young people need stability that foster carers can offer, which can help children to maintain their self-esteem. This is greatly helped when children can live with families from the same racial, religious and cultural background as themselves. It is also important that children who do not have English as a first language are able to live with families who speak the child’s first language. Therefore we need and welcome carers from all communities to help a variety of children in need.
So, as a foster carer you will need to:
- be able to provide a good standard of care for other people’s children. This will involve promoting their health, education, and leisure interests
- be able to listen and communicate with children in a way that is appropriate for their age and understanding
- be able to help the child keep in contact with their friends and family as appropriate
- be able to set appropriate boundaries and manage children’s behaviour without the use of physical punishment or other unreasonable behaviour
- ensure that the child is cared for in an environment where they are safe from harm and abuse