At its most basic, fostering is a situation in which an adult cares for a young person that is not their biological child. It differs from adoption because it is usually a temporary arrangement (although you can foster a child for many years), and you do not have full parental rights and responsibilities for the child in your care. If it’s an option that you’ve been considering, read on for an overview of what fostering involves and why it’s so important.
What does a foster parent do?
As a foster parent, it will be your job to offer a safe, welcoming, and nurturing home environment that will allow the child in your care to thrive. It’s a role that requires a lot of patience and understanding as you build a warm and trusting relationship with them. Although the exact responsibilities you have will vary depending on how long you foster the child, you can expect to support their education, look after their health and wellbeing, teach them life skills, and enrich their daily lives. This also involves attending meetings monitoring the child’s progress and possibly facilitating contact with their birth family if the situation is appropriate. Don’t worry if this all sounds intimidating because you’ll receive plenty of training from the FCA!
Why is there a need for foster care?
There are many different reasons why a child might need to be placed in foster care. For example, they might be in a situation where their welfare is threatened at home due to neglect or abuse. Alternatively, their birth parent might be unwell or have had an accident and therefore be unable to care for their child. Fostering can also be used as a temporary measure before a child is permanently adopted.
Who can become a foster parent?
In the UK, anyone who is over the age of 21 and has a spare bedroom can apply to become a foster parent. There are no restrictions in terms of relationship status, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, and you don’t need any specific qualifications or childcare experience. The most important factor is that you are genuinely committed to becoming a fantastic foster parent. It can be a difficult role at times because many of the children in foster care have experienced trauma in their lives. As such, you’ll need plenty of positivity, patience, adaptability, energy, and resilience to provide the best possible home for them.
How do I become a foster parent?
If you’re interested in becoming a foster parent, you’ll need to go through an application process that can take several months. This is to ensure that fostering is definitely the right option for you and that you are fully informed about what it entails. The process generally involves a home visit, during which you’ll be able to ask any questions you may have before deciding whether or not to go ahead. You’ll also be able to choose the type of fostering that’s most appropriate for your circumstances (for example, long or short-term fostering) and participate in all the training you need to succeed. Once you’ve been approved, you’ll be matched with an appropriate child as soon as possible!