Every foster child has different needs, and that’s why fostering agencies look for people with varying life experiences to become foster carers. If you have a disability, you may still be able to foster. But like all would-be foster carers, you need to complete the application process successfully – and this may not be what you think!
Living with a disability can be problematic. The built environment was not created with people with disabilities in mind. Shops can be hard to access and living in an older property can be problematic too.
For too long, people with disabilities were excluded from ‘mainstream’ living. There were barriers, physical ones as well as attitudes, which prevented many from taking an active part in life.
And it is probably for this reason that people with disabilities assume that fostering is not something open to them or that a fostering agency would not consider them suitable.
If they did, a person with a disability may assume that their disability would be scrutinised much more than that of other foster carers.
But this isn’t the case.
The same fostering application process
Everyone who wants to become a foster carer goes through the same application process. Foster carer applications are not compared against each other, as we are used to when we apply for other jobs.
Foster care applications are measured against what children in care need. In other words, fostering agencies look for people who have the personal aptitude and outlook to offer a positive, welcoming, loving, safe and nurturing home to a foster child.
If you have a long-term illness or are disabled in some way, these are not barriers and do not automatically exclude you.
The same medial checks
All foster carers undergo a health assessment.
Because we need and want the best for children who can’t live with their birth families, a fostering agency need to be confident that a foster carer can offer a stable environment.
Questions are asked of foster carers and their lifestyle, and these questions are no different for someone with a disability.
As long as you are healthy, manage your conditions or disability, then there is no reason why your disability should be a barrier to becoming a foster carer.
How will foster children react to a foster carer’s disability?
Foster carers come from all walks of life. At one time, foster carers were married couples. Single people couldn’t foster, and it wasn’t until 2002 that members of the LGBT community could become foster carers.
What we have learnt is that children who live with people that are seen as ‘different’ by society are not damaged in any way by it. In fact, living with foster carers who are ‘different’ or in the minority help children and young people to become more tolerant and welcoming of diversity.
The same is true for foster children who live with foster carers who are disabled.
Disability fostering is not just about matching disabled children with disabled adults either. And a fostering agency will need to be confident that a foster child won’t fall into the role of being a carer, either.
Fostering may not affect disability benefits either, something that is important to anyone considering becoming a foster carer. There is an allowance per child per week too, to ease the financial pressure of raising a foster child.
Making a difference
Foster families all over the UK make a difference in the lives of foster children every day. A foster parent with a disability is doing the same thing too!
Just as the population is made up of diverse individuals, so too is the army of foster carers who care for, love and nurture children and young people in their care.
Foster Care Associates are actively seeking foster carers, including people with disabilities, to offer homes and families to children and young people.