When adults make a decision to become foster carers they also make the decision for their children to become part of a family that fosters. Fostering is a very significant change in anyone’s life, even more so for the children within the family.
Initially many children are very enthusiastic about the idea. During the course of the assessment, if they are of sufficient understanding, the Social Worker will talk to them about the idea of a foster child coming to stay with them. The age, understanding and views of your own children may be a contributory factor in recommending a particular age range of approval for you as a carer e.g. if you have a child of 15 yrs you may want to ensure that he remains the oldest child by a couple of years to avoid any issues of ‘competing’ between birth and foster children. It may therefore be wise to consider an approval range of 7-13 yrs.
It is often surprising how little time prospective foster carers spend discussing their idea to foster with their children. Our advice is to talk to them both before and regularly throughout the application process, and to make a point of having frequent discussions about how being a foster family may be affecting you all and how current problems or difficulties can be addressed. Don’t be surprised if children change from being very keen to foster, to hating it, and then back again, particularly in the early stages. For example, a child may have been looking forward to a new playmate that they could play football or other sports with, but then later find out that the foster child hates all sports and only wants to play computer games. This kind of disappointment can be quite hard on them. It is also important to remember to spend time with your own children.