Fostering is a very strange career, there are no careers like it and nothing can prepare you for it. You may say that some careers require a caring personality, such as a nurse or teacher but caring for a child that is not your own, in your own home is a very specialist career.
Becoming a foster carer
Fostering and your own children
Taking in a child is not a quick decision for anyone, you need to discuss this with your family whether they are at home or away. If you have birth children still at home you need to decide how having a foster child live with you will affect them. We advise that if you do foster a child then you do not take on a child that is the same age as your birth children.
Children have different needs at different times so to be able to give your birth children and foster children what they need it is better that these needs are separate. For example two teenagers will need similar levels of support and if your foster child has been placed with you because they were not getting enough support at home they may need more support now which could cause friction between your foster child and birth child.
It is usually better to have a foster child that is younger than your birth child so your birth child has a higher level of understanding of the process. However, this can be different in every case.
When becoming a foster carer your fostering agency and allocated social worker should be able to offer plenty of support and they will only place suitable children into your home.
A Career in Caring
When applying to be a foster carer you will need to fill out an application and you will be assessed on your suitability to be a foster carer. Fostering agencies will be looking for people from all walks of life, a typical foster carer isn’t just a stay at home Mum who bakes and cleans and is a domestic goddess. A foster carer can be a single man, a family of 5, a career woman, a lesbian couple, almost anyone may have qualities that would make them a good foster carer.
Fostering is a caring career, however it is important not to get too attached as it will be hard for you to let them go. Your social worker will help you through this process as it is their responsibility to make sure both you and your foster child are safe and happy.
When a child is fostered they may be in care for a number of reasons and may have different life experiences. It is your job to care for them and provide security and a safe place. Some children may have had a hard life, whereas many will just be in short term placements for respite, either way you need to be aware that you will not get an easy baby to look after and cuddle. In fact most children in care are pre teens and teenagers, if you ask only for young children you are less likely to get regular placements as many younger children will be adopted rather than long term fostering.
Although foster children may come with some baggage, you will receive advice and support from your social workers, if you have any concerns you can speak to your fostering agency. Foster caring is a career, and like most careers you get back what you put in, it is a fantastic feeling knowing you have made a difference in a child’s life and many carers actually need the most support when the children leave their care as they will miss them so much.