Embarking on a journey to become a foster carer is noble to say the least, but also a decision that will change the course of your entire life. It is no less serious than becoming a biological parent and both come with their own set of challenges and joys. It is not enough to know some things about foster caring, you need to know as much as possible. Everything you need to know about fostering before you apply will help you decide if this is what you want to do. Let’s have a look at some basics.
First off, many people confuse foster caring and adoption or believe they are one and the same thing. They are not. In fostering, you are providing help and support to a baby, child or teen who cannot go back to their biological parents for any reason. It is often a temporary arrangement, but can sometimes lead to full-time fostering. Fostering happens till the child becomes 18 years old. Adoption is a legal process where the child is placed with a new family, and no longer has legal ties with the birth parents and takes the family name of the new family.
What you will do as a foster
The help and support of a foster is real. It might even be the first time a child had come into contact with a loving home. You will be provided with training before being approved. Along with the help of social workers, you will provide a safe and stable home environment as well as encourage them and be there for them. You help them communicate and behave with a positive attitude, and value them by listening to them.
Basic criteria to apply
- Be at least 21 years old
- Have a spare bedroom big enough for a person to live in
- Be a permanent resident of the UK or a permit to remain
- Ability to give enough time to care for a child or teen
Besides these basics, an agency will look into other fundamentals such as:
- Overall health: Are you in good physical health to foster?
- Your financial status: Even though there is a financial benefit too in fostering, but your own finances are looked into.
- Friends and family: Will you have support to foster?
- Your past: Have you had previous convictions or lived abroad?
- Any previous experience with children
Types of Fostering
There are different types of fostering. These schemes take into account several factors such as the age of the child and ethnicity.
Emergency: This is when a child or young person needs care and a home for a few days. It is unscheduled and you can be called to foster at any time of the day or night.
Short-term: This can be anywhere between an overnight stay to several months. Short-term cases often involve children who do have a family, but cannot be with them for various reasons. The child may return to their family or short-term can develop into long-term depending on the individual case.
Long-term: Some children cannot go back to their biological family for many years. In this case, children do stay on a long-term basis with fosters, while also being in touch with their biological family.
Permanent: The court places the child in a foster home and this can last till the child reaches the age of 18.
Short Break: This plan allows the child to visit with foster carers for a certain period of time. This could be a few hours, or over the weekends in order to give more free time for the biological family and/or full time foster carers.
Support Care: When troubles arise between children and their biological family, fosters can offer their support to help. It can be viewed as a part-time care system.
Single people can’t foster. – Wrong. There are lots of singles fostering as long as they are able to provide care and stability.
I have to be a parent to foster. – Wrong. You will be given training.
I will not be chosen because I am from the LGBT community. – Wrong. Your sexual preferences are not what agencies care about.
Men cannot foster. – Wrong. Being in a father role has a lot of positive influence.
Being a foster comes with many rewarding factors knowing that you helped a young person out, cared, and loved them to your best. It also comes with a lot of responsibility, so make sure you are up to it to reap its rewards.