Fostering a child is one of the greatest gifts you can give. All across the UK, some children need a stable place to live and the support they need to grow and develop. Becoming a foster parent is easier than you may think. Here is what you need to know before you start the process.
Anyone Can Be a Foster Parent
In the United Kingdom, as long as you are a UK resident with no plans to leave the country and have the ability to take care of a child on a full-time basis, you can foster a child. You must be over 18, but many fostering agencies will prefer to foster a child with a parent over the age of 21. How long you foster a child will often depend on the child and their circumstances; it could be for one night or several years.
If you are seriously considering becoming a foster parent, take a look at this FAQ page from fosteringpeople.co.uk. There is more information here and informed answers to some of the most common questions. Fostering a child is one of the greatest gifts you can give and can be incredibly rewarding for you and the child.
There Is Lots of Help and Support
Being a parent to any child comes with a lot of responsibilities and challenges. For foster parents, there is plenty of support available to help you to prepare to become a foster parent, complete the process, and provide a home for a foster child. The Department for Education funds a free helpline for foster parents called Fosterline, which offers independent advice for foster parents to help them navigate the fostering process, negotiate the challenges, and find financial support during fostering.
Most fostering is administered through agencies that will help support you and your foster child before a child is brought to your home and during their stay. You are never alone throughout the complete fostering process. You must use these resources to help make your fostering successful.
Training and Preparation
Before you become a foster parent you will have to attend training and information sessions to help prepare you for the arrival and care of a foster child. You have the responsibilities of being a parent when you foster, but there are also added responsibilities you must take on for the child including attending meetings about their welfare and advocating for them. You must also help manage their behaviour and encourage their personal growth, which may come with additional challenges depending upon their situation.
Though you will be a foster child’s primary carer, you will be part of a team of people that are responsible for the child’s welfare and social development. You will not be alone, but you will be the primary source of caregiving. Part of your preparation for fostering will be developing your relationship and rapport with the rest of the team.
With the right planning and preparation, anything is possible. You and your family can provide a loving, stable home to a child in need through fostering, and develop a bond with a foster child that will help support them through the rest of their life.