Is Fostering for Me?
- Do you have a strong support system of friends and/or family? This is an important factor when considering becoming a Foster Carer, as fostering a child can become very stressful at times. There may be times when you feel you just need to get things off your chest and whilst your Supervising Social Worker is there for you, you may feel more comfortable venting your stress with friends/family. If you do not have that support system around you then your Supervising Social Worker is there to listen. We also hold regular forums where you get to meet with other foster carers whom can support each other. If not consider starting your own with other foster carers in your area.
- Are you a patient person? At times it can feel that you are constantly giving but not getting any acknowledgement from the foster child of your efforts. This in itself can be frustrating for anybody. Take it from experience that if the foster child is not making any grateful gestures it does not mean that they do not recognise your efforts it is more likely that they do not know how to or they may be guarded. With a little patience they will open up to you and your family in their own time.
- Are you willing to work in partnership with other professionals? In order for a successful placement and therefore a better outcome for the foster child, there must be input from a number of professionals. These professionals are generally, your Supervising Social Worker, the foster child’s Social Worker, education professional, medical nurse (where necessary), therapeutic professional (where necessary), Support Worker (where necessary). There are regular meetings that you will need to attend once you have a child in placement, along with in-house training courses. This requires excellent communication skills on your part, and a commitment to follow the plan set forth by the social workers.
- If you have children, how do they feel about being part of a family that fosters? It is vitally important to consider every member of your family when thinking about fostering a child; this is the key to a happy and successful career in fostering. If you think each person in the house will be living and interacting with the foster child and their behaviours 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week. Your children will have to share their home, space, toys and most importantly their parents; in reality this is very difficult for children to take onboard. They sacrifice a lot in becoming part of a foster family. Ask your children how they feel and listen to what they have to say! Although we ensure the matching process is carried out to your families suitability and lifestyle, you may wish to consider that your child may learn or pick up whatever the foster child knows, both the good and the bad.
- Have you given thought to the age range of children you would like to foster? Your Assessing Social Worker will talk through this with you during the assessment process but you will need to consider the ages of your own children and where another child would fit into your family. A lot of people initially say that they would prefer a baby/toddler but is a baby right for you? While you won’t have to deal with the general teenage behaviours, you will have to give up sleep and basically “start over” if your children are grown up. Would a teenager work better? In this situation you may not have to worry about child care and they are more independent. You may also wish to consider the sex of the child. These are all choices that need to be made by you as a foster carer. A discussion will be held with your Assessing Social Worker around what behaviours you feel you can and cannot support. You need to be mindful of the fact that many behaviours may not surface until the child feels safe and comfortable enough to be himself/herself. At the time of placement the Social Worker may not be aware of the child’s presenting behaviours.
- Can you say goodbye? Fostering a particular child is not a permanent arrangement; each child will move on someday. It is completely natural for both you and your family to become attached to the child and don’t get me wrong attachment is a good thing, for both you and the foster child. If the child can attach and trust you, they will be able to transfer these skills learnt with others in their lives and this leads to a healthier future for them. If it is a natural ending to the placement then goodbye does not have to mean forever. In certain circumstances, and with permission from the birth parent or adopted parent, a relationship with your foster children can remain intact after they move on.
- Most importantly, do you have the time and love to offer a child? Think of all the things you do or would do with your own family on a daily basis like sitting down for meals at the dinner table, watching films on the sofa with treats, reading books at bedtime, going on days out. These things may seem small and come naturally to your family but to a foster child this proves to them that families are indeed a secure setting to grow and develop into an adult.
So, here you have all the main questions that you need to be asking yourself when you think ‘Is Fostering for Me?’ I hope you take time to sit and discuss the impact your potential decision will have on all your family members.
If you wish to learn more about becoming a foster carer then please Lorimer Foster Services a call for an informal chat. You can contact us, leave your phone number and we will call you back or submit your full details. We recruit Foster Carers in Liverpool, Manchester, Cheshire & Lancashire.