Becoming a foster carer is an extremely rewarding career path. Though there will be inevitable challenges, some of which are exclusive to the role, the impact you will make shines through every single day. So, if you are considering becoming a carer in your local community, here are four things you need to know before getting started.
Fostering is Equal Parts Reward and Demand
The first thing to accept is that there will be highs and lows throughout. Just like any parenting journey, children are versatile human beings in their own right. You will be required to meet their needs regardless of how they represent. You will be their biggest advocate, their safe space, and a practical helping hand as well. You are on call 24 hours a day, which is why there are respite systems in place to provide a break when necessary. The difference you make as a foster carer will be phenomenal.
How to Get Started
When it comes to getting started, there is a range of options. The most direct route is to find a professional fostering agency to guide you through the training, provide placement support, and help your family adjust to the transition. Fostering People is a prime example of what a fostering agency should and can do for you while you explore this journey. There is often an online enquiry form to fill out before anything else can happen. The agency will then be in touch with you to discuss the viability of you becoming a carer and if it feels like a good fit, you can get started with the rest of the process. This will include training, background checks, and sometimes family or close friend interviews.
How to Prepare Your Home
Any placement child that you accept into your home needs their own bedroom. This will be a prerequisite before you are accepted into an agency. This bedroom has to be equipped with all the essentials such as a bed and mattress plus clean bedding. The foster child will also need toiletries, sometimes clothing, and of course, food and warmth. Sometimes, children come into the care system with only the clothes on their back and what they can fit in a backpack. They are moving from their home and everything they know, which includes all their personal belongings. Until these can be retrieved, you have to give them everything they need to make them comfortable and help them settle. Make sure there is a fully stocked fridge and all the cupboards are filled too.
There May Be Behavioural Challenges
The child may have a trauma background that is outside of your level of experience. As long as you are prepared to adapt to the consequences, you will grow to the situation as needed. This means there may be some adverse behaviour, particularly in the early days when everything is new and scary. This is what foster carers are trained for before a placement begins, and while the placement is up and running too.
Foster care is a wonderful career. You are in the privileged position of making a significant difference in the life of a child who really needs it.