Becoming a foster carer is one of the most emotionally rewarding things that anyone can do. It’s an incredibly fulfilling to help vulnerable young people by building their self esteem and providing them with a caring home. I have friends that have done this and they all say that it’s the best thing they have ever done.
My friend (Mike) and his wife (Helen) fostered a 9 year old boy (Alex), who is now 12 and still in their care. They admitted how challenging and daunting it was to begin with. Alex was a very quiet boy, he wouldn’t say boo to a fly. They tried their best to increase his self esteem and encourage him to talk more.
They decided to get him involved with sport by taking him to the local soccer club, this brought him on in leaps and bounds and gave him the chance to socialise with other children and take his mind off the emotional stress that is involved with being a foster child.
They held a surprise 12th birthday party for Alex and invited his friends from Soccer and school; this was great because it made him feel appreciated and helped to him realise that there were people that wanted to be around him and enjoy his company.
It’s the little things like this that make becoming a foster carer so rewarding. If Mike and Helen hadn’t of taken Alex to Soccer that day, it’s very likely that he would still be the same shy and unconfident boy.
Fostering is an amazing way to help someone that genuinely needs it. It can be hard work, but in the end it’s more than worth it.
If you are interested, below are some FAQ about foster parenting:
Who can foster a child?
Anyone has the opportunity to foster a child as long as they match the required criteria and pass all health and legal checks that are undertaken. You must also have a vacant bedroom for the child.
What criminal convictions could prevent me from becoming a foster carer?
Any criminal convictions such as violence or child abuse will void your application to become a foster carer. Minor convictions that happened a long time ago may be ok depending on what the conviction was for.
Is there any contact with the birth parents of the foster children?
There are occasions when carers will meet the foster child’s birth parents. This is usually in situations such as taking the child to see his/her family.
How long do placements last?
This depends on whether it’s an emergency placement, a short term placement, or a long term placement. In some cases placements can last for a number of years.
Do I get an allowance for fostering the child?
Yes, you will receive a fostering allowance when a child is placed with you. This allowance will cover expenses such as the child’s food, pocket money, clothes and general well-being. You may need to register as self employed if you are earning a salary from fostering.
Do I have to own my home to become a foster carer?
No, but you must not have any rent arrears and a stable home with no risk of eviction. Fostering agencies will ask a landlord for references if rented, or if living in a mortgaged home, with the bank.
How long does the application process take?
The process can take anything between 3 and 9 months. The application is then presented to a fostering panel for consideration. This may vary with different foster agencies as it depends on how quickly the information is gathered and processed.
I work; can I still become a foster carer?
The role of a foster carer is very demanding and usually a full time one, which requires a professional level of commitment, patience and motivation. Although this depends on the type of placement, many fostering agencies and authorities will require at least one carer to either be at home, or have a flexible working pattern.
Can foster carers adopt?
Adoption is an entirely different process to fostering, but in some circumstances some foster carers do go on to adopt. Not all foster children are available for adoption; it depends on their personal circumstances.
I am single; can I still become a foster carer?
Of course, there are many children that go into foster care who will benefit particularly from the focused and undivided attention that a single carer can provide.
This is a guest post by David at Pathway Foster Care an independent fostering agency that offer a variety of high level foster care services throughout Wales, England and the UK.