Becoming a foster carer is an extremely rewarding and satisfying role and while you may experience certain challenges along the way, the good news is that you will be fully supported at all times, whether this is from a fostering agency or your local authority. Demand for foster carers is currently high and statistics show that around every twenty minutes, a child in the UK is placed in the care system.
When a child can not live with their own family for a wide variety of reasons, a foster home will step in to provide the stable and nurturing environment that the child requires. Sharing your home with another child is a huge undertaking and one that requires careful thought beforehand. However, you will already have undertaken suitable training and assessments which will give you the skills and confidence to become a child care professional as well as joining a network of like minded families who provide the same sort of support that you do.
As each child's personality and circumstances are unique, so will the amount of time that the child will stay in your home. Sometimes it is for a night or two, it may be for a few weeks or months and sometimes longer placements are required. Whether your child is with you a day or a year, you’ll be providing the same safe, warm and loving environment which allows the child to thrive in your care.
To find out more, there is a wealth of information on the internet regarding fostering for your local authority or for specific fostering agencies who will respond to your initial enquiry. Bear in mind that the rules and criteria may differ, whether you deal with a local authority or an agency specialising in fostering.
The role of a foster carer is varied and will consist of acting as a positive role model while supporting their wellbeing, ensuring they attend school, teaching them everyday skills and encouraging them to learn new experiences. You will also be expected to keep records of the child's progress and achievements. Depending on the child’s circumstances, you may be required to encourage and support contact with the child’s family members while they are in your care so that these relationships are maintained.
Foster carers come from an extremely diverse background with only minimum criteria that needs to be satisfied. In general, you must be over twenty one years of age, have a spare bedroom in your home and have permanent leave to remain in the UK. Apart from that, age is irrelevant but of course, you must be fairly fit and healthy. Your marital status, gender, previous experience in child care, whether you own your own home or rent it and whether you work and even what qualifications you have attained are not important. What matters far more is being able to provide a safe, nurturing and stable home with opportunity for positive growth among people who genuinely care.
Pay is generous and not only takes into account your own skill but the child’s individual needs. Although you will usually be classed as self employed, many foster carers either pay no or minimal tax due to qualifying care relief.
Fostering is a unique vocation - a special job for special people - as it allows you to make a profound difference in a child's life and you are giving them a chance for them to flourish whatever their challenging circumstances.