Fostering – Be Prepared

Carmen D. Lade

Before you start the fostering process, it’s advisable to identify the type of care you are willing to provide. Remember children entering into the system have all different needs, some children will have special needs, some will require urgent care for only a few hours or days, while there are those that require long term care and may be in your home for years or until they are old enough to start work and move out of home.

It is very difficult when it comes to fostering, you need to remember that this is not adoption and therefore there will come a time when you have to let the child in your care leave. They can leave for various reasons. They may be returning home and only stayed with you while their parent was ill or in hospital, they may be adopted by another family and it’s time for them to go to their forever home or they may head off to university and it’s the same as saying goodbye to your own children as you watch them head off to start their own lives. Fostering can be difficult and you need to ensure that you are prepared and able to hand the child back when it is time to do so.

Ensure you plan ahead. Remember a child coming into your care under the fostering system is likely to leave in the future. This can be in a couple of days, weeks, months or years. Planning ahead enables you to stay goodbye and also know what you are going to say to ensure the child understands why they are leaving and why they cannot stay with you. A child that has been in your care and has settled into a good routine in a stable home isn’t going to understand that they have now been adopted and they have to leave. Your foster care specialist agency should be able to provide you with the necessary support, enabling you to explain it to the child so they understand what is going to happen moving forward.

In addition to this, be realistic about what you can manage. If you work or whether you are home all day will determine if you can take on a very young child or whether you should focus on taking on school aged children that will be at school while you are working. Further remember some of these children have special needs, which can be anything from serious disabilities to learning difficulties. You need to identify with your social worker to identify what you feel you can manage. There is no right or wrong and if you feel you don’t have what it takes to manage a child with severe disabilities, then be honest to ensure that you always provide the best home environment for every child in your care at all times.

Expect some difficulty. Some of the children that come to your home may be very untrusting. Remember that they haven’t had the best start in life, so expect some difficulty in terms of behaviour, acting out and maybe even being too clingy. Take comfort in the fact that you cannot control everything, be patient and work with your support team to ensure you have the support you need at all times.

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