Have you ever thought about fostering? Fostering is a way of helping young people who for whatever reason, cannot live with parents or other members of their family. You have the child living in your home as part of a family and ensure that all their needs are being met.
The vast majority of children in foster care do so on a short term basis whilst social workers and other members from childrens’ services teams work with their parents to try and make the home a place suitable for the child again. Some children may never be able to return to their parents though and some foster carers may have the child stay with them until an adoptive family is found.
What about time?
There are many different types of fostering – it’s not just the traditional have the child in your home 24/7.
There are respite fosterers – these are planned short breaks for children either living at home or with other foster carers.
There are overnight short breaks – these are designed for children with disabilities or other complex needs. It gives them a break away from the usual family life and vice versa.
Short-term fostering is the most common – providing care for children and young people of all ages. During these types of placements, plans for the child’s future will be made – whether that is returning them to their family, or a permanent type of care which might be being placed for adoption.
Emergency foster care involves taking children at short notice for a short period of time should an emergency arise.
Long term care provides stability and security for the children. Parental responsibility would remain either with the child’s parents or the local authority but the child would be living with you.
Fostering with the possibility of adoption is for babies and toddlers in care who are quite likely to need adoption in the future, but there is still a chance of them being returned to their families.
Parent and child fostering is for babies alongside one or more of their parents. These are usually short term placements and might be needed in order to allow parenting assessments to be mad as part of any court proceedings.
Can I foster?
If you are over 21 (some areas say 18) and have a spare room then you would be eligible. Being eligible doesn’t mean it’s automatic – there is an assessment and suitability process to go through, but you can be single or married, gay or straight, renting or a home owner. Foster carers from all ethnicities and backgrounds are welcomed as it is being able to provide a safe and secure home for the children which is the priority.
First of all – visit the website of your local authority. They will have all the information you need. There might be information you can download and read, and they might even have face to face sessions where you can go along and speak to someone. If you decide to proceed with applying to become a foster carer, you can expect a high level of training and support.