In an ideal world, all children and young people would be nurtured and loved, brought up in an environment that was safe and stable. But the reality is different and that means there are thousands of children in need of foster families.
Providing the love and care for foster children that their own parents are unable to provide, as a foster carer you will be pivotal in shaping their young lives. But fostering is not without its challenges.
However, foster parents are clear – the real rewards of fostering far outweigh the dramas, the tantrums and the challenging behaviour. But what are these rewards?
Making a BIG difference
For many carers, what drives them to continue to open their homes, lives and families to foster children is knowing that they are making a big difference in children’s lives. A foster child may be with you for many years or a few short weeks, but the impact you have is immeasurable.
A feeling like no other
There is no foster carer who doesn’t look into the eyes of a foster child on first meeting them and feel a sense of trepidation. How will this journey pan out? It is a leap of faith, offering a child you don’t know a home but also taking responsibility for them.
But it is a feeling like no other when they say thank you – and they will, at some point – or reach to hold your hand, seeking reassurance.
Not every foster placement is the same. You may choose to foster by offering short-term placements to children or you may decide you are better suited to offer long-term foster care.
New skills, new outlook
A foster child has a story to tell. They may choose to share it with you; they may not. But you are their future, creating positive and happy memories.
It takes skill to do this. And this means ensuring that the army of foster carers on which vulnerable children and families rely are trained to handle issues and problems. It could be understanding the best way of managing challenging behaviour or, it may be working and managing relationships with birth parents and families that are positive and beneficial to the child you care for.
During the application process, all foster carers undergo ‘basic’ training that examines common fostering issues. Many carers choose to go on and train in specific skills so that they have specialist abilities to offer much-needed foster placements, such as parent and child. Fostering gives you a new outlook, as well as a new skill set.
Financially rewarding too
Of course, fostering is a decision that should be based on what you have to offer rather than on how much money it could offer you.
Foster placements, short or long term, or specialist ones, are hard work and a commitment that is beyond any 9 to 5, Monday to Friday job. As a result, there is a financial reward in the shape of a fostering allowance.
As well as receiving payment towards to cost of living with foster children, you will also enjoy financial reward in the shape of generous tax relief.
An asset to your community
Some children will need foster placements outside of their area for reasons relating to family and protection. But in many cases, children need to be fostered within their community. This could be so that contact is maintained with their parents or their wider family, or so that they can continue in their current school, sports team and so on.
As a foster carer, you are an asset to your community and this is something to be celebrated.
Straight, gay, lesbian, married, widowed, divorced or single, foster carers come from all walks of life and there is a need for more people to become foster carers. Do you have the personal qualities that foster children need?
For more information on fostering and the rewards it offers you, your family and a foster child, visit the Foster Care Associates website.