Are you considering becoming a foster parent? If so, you will be interested in how the process benefits not only the child in your care but you too.
Why fostering is important
In the UK, thousands of children enter the care system every year. The reasons why vary from neglect or abuse to their home life being too chaotic to meet their needs.
A child may live with approved foster carers in the short term or the long term. You may care for a child while they wait for adoption. Other children may spend a period of time with you while their parents are supported so that they can return home.
The rewards of caring for a foster child or a group of siblings are many and varied. Essentially, you will be making a difference to not only their lives but yours too.
#1 Be a big part of a child’s life
Becoming a foster parent means opening your home – and life – to a child who needs your help, love, respect and support. They will present you with complex needs, and at times, their behaviour will challenge the most experienced and patient of foster carers.
But, your love and unconditional acceptance will be the foundation on which they will build their lives. Foster children talk about their foster parents and families for years to come!
#2 Empty nest to family home again!
Foster carers come from all walks of life. It is common for many parents, their empty nest – a home from which their adult children have flown – is a place they want to fill with love and laughter once again.
Parents feel that they have successfully parented their own children and still have a lot of energy and commitment to offer a child. And so why not use the empty bedrooms as the place where children in need of a home and a family can come to live?
Did you know that there are only a few basic criteria to becoming a foster parent? Most agencies require potential foster carers to be over the age of 21, have a spare room and have the time, drive, compassion and commitment to make a difference to a child.
#3 You don’t foster alone
The support for foster carers is second-to-none. This is because the ‘work’ carers do for the children in their care is invaluable. Support is provided in many ways;
- Training – as part of the application process, you will undergo training. This looks at common issues of fostering, such as challenging behaviour, and how you can deal with it. After you have been approved as a foster carer, you will also have chance to attend other training courses too.
- Social worker – all foster children will have a social worker assigned to them, and most agencies will also assign a support or social worker to the foster carer too. When you have concerns or any questions, these are the people to turn to.
- Financial – foster carers receive a fostering allowance for each child that they care for. This allowance covers every day living costs but is not classed as income. This is welcome news if you receive benefits and you will little or no tax on the fostering allowance.
#4 The satisfaction of ‘giving back’
Modern life is busy. We can feel like we lose our way, sometimes, losing sight of what really matters. With so many children in need of foster homes and foster carers, it is a fantastic way of giving back to your community.
Fostering one child makes a huge difference to them, to you and to your community. There is no better feeling of giving back in life.
#5 The child
A child in foster care will have a complex set of needs. Their behaviour can be difficult to manage. They will test your patience and understanding.
But there are nuggets of rewards along the way. And it is the simplest of things that matter, like the ‘thank you’ when you have done something for them, the smiles and laughter, helping them to love and respect themselves and to accept it from others too.
And then there is bigger stuff, the ‘getting on with life’, to staying in school for a full day, to sitting their GCSEs, to getting their A Levels and going to university, to getting their first job.
Foster carers up and down the country make a difference every day. Are you ready to swell their ranks and offer your home to a child?