With far fewer foster carers than foster children needing care, the authorities want to open fostering up to as many suitable people as are willing. If you have been considering fostering, great. But it is worth a thought if you have never wondered about it before. We discuss the eligibility requirements and what type of person makes a terrific foster parent. See how you match up.
Are You Eligible for Fostering?
Before deciding if you want to become a foster carer, you will need to determine if anything rules you out. Some conditions you think may work against you might not be an issue.
While there are certain conditions that are legally required, such as a separate room for every four-year-old child or older that lives in the home, there is also more flexibility than you might expect. Surprisingly, you are not turned away if you are a smoker, although you have to abide by certain rules and will not be allocated children with asthma, for example, or babies to care for. Your age is of no consequence, but you must be physically capable of looking after a child. Singles and same-gender couples can foster. You can check out what the law says here.
The fostering agency will be there whenever you run into a problem you are unsure how to cope with or have questions. They will also provide you with a solid training programme to ensure that you are ready to take a foster child home. You also need a support network of trustworthy family members, friends, and neighbours. You may be faced with instances where an emergency forces you to call on someone to childmind your foster child at short notice. Forming bonds with other foster carers will give you the chance to discuss your experiences.
Are You a Personality Match?
Are you adaptable, but able to set firm boundaries in a kindly manner? Are you a patient, respectful listener when a child speaks? Can you cope with the times when your foster child is hurting and is unable to express their emotions? Do you understand that a foster child who has been abused and/or neglected might not simply open up to you and that it could take time to build trust? Are you able to work as part of a collaborative team with social workers and other professionals responsible for the foster children in your care?
Do you have a sense of humour and know how to have fun? Can you be vulnerable and open? Is it important to you to make a difference in a child’s life? Find out more on how to become a foster parent here.
If you have a partner, you would have agreed together to foster before approaching an agency. But you also need to include your biological children and make sure that they first understand what is involved. If a foster child displays behaviour your children are not used to, are they able to deal with it without being influenced by the foster child?
If you feel that you would make a suitable foster carer, don’t delay; there are many children out there needing a foster home.