Why are Children put into Foster Care?
A foster home for a child in the care system is a safe-haven; somewhere they feel integrated, safe and loved…a home.
Children are in the care of a Local Authority for many reasons but it all boils down to one thing. The fact that their parent(s) can no longer look after them, keep them safe and/or protect them from harm.
I have outlined some of the possible reasons below in greater detail so you can get a better understanding of what these children could have gone through before they are matched with a foster family.
If a parent, partner of a parent, guardian, or other family member is suspected of or found guilty of abuse a court judge may take the decision that the child will not be safe to stay in his or her current living arrangements. The next step will be to find a suitable home for the child and if there are no other alternatives, i.e. grandparents, then a foster home will be sought.
There are many types of abuse that can lead to a child being placed in foster care. A child may have been emotionally abused over time to the point where it is determined that the child is not safe within the home. A child may have been sexually abused or beaten. In the end, it is up to a court or a child protection officer to determine if a child needs to be placed in the care system and a new home needs to be found.
Neglect is a form of abuse that involves lack of care for a child. It is not necessarily physical, mental, or sexual, although in some cases it can be a combination of all those, but it is just as damaging on its own. To give you an example, a child who is not fed as much as is necessary may suffer pain that is as bad as or worse than physical abuse. A child who is left alone, not loved or shown affection may feel just as hurt as a child who is physically abused.
As with abuse, if a child needs to be placed into foster care, child protection or the court has to determine that neglect is happening and that it is at a level that makes it dangerous for a child to continue living in that environment. Signs of neglect typically include obvious malnourishment, consistently dirty clothing, unkempt, a lack of necessities and consistently neglected school work or attendance.
It is a myth that all foster children are abused, chronically neglected or badly behaved children. Some have unfortunately lost their parents/guardians to disease, an accident, drug abuse or were given up for adoption. These children can go into foster care until a more permanent home is found, i.e. adoption or the children reach adulthood.
In some cases, if you have a troubled child it would not matter how well-meaning their parents were, they are still going to be troubled. These children could be loved and cared for and have well-functioning families. Despite these factors, they may have behavioural problems that are bad enough that the Social Services or court will determine that they or those around them will be safer if the child is placed in foster care. If the child’s behaviour is not stable enough to be matched with a suitable foster carer then they will be placed in a residential care home.
Your Expectations as a Foster Carer
When you are new to fostering and you are waiting for your first placement a lot of Foster Carers believe that the child will be grateful and relieved to be out of their home situation. This is rarely the case. Whatever bad situation the child has come out from, this will be their “norm” and all they have ever known. Be prepared for the child to be anything but happy about being in your home initially. Over time you will gain their trust and they will learn to relax and appreciate the small things that you are doing for them but this will take some time.
High expectations can lead to your disappointment!
If you wish to learn more about becoming a foster carer then please give 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.