Foster Carers: What They Do and How to Get Involved
A Foster Carer is an individual who is responsible for the temporary adult care and supervision of a child or adolescent who does not have a parent or family to look after them. This can be for any number of reasons but the aim and responsibility of the foster carer is to make sure the child or adolescent receives the care and attention that he or she might need during their stay.
Reasons for Foster CareThere is a common misconception that children placed in foster care have been so because of delinquency, anti-social behaviour or other behaviour not becoming of their home environment. This is simply not the case. Many children are the unfortunate casualties of parental break-ups, a single parent suffering from illnes, be it emotional or physical, or simply a child who is not wanted by their biological parent/parents.
Of course there are some children who are removed from the family unit because of their behaviour and the fact that they may pose a risk to others or that they are under threat from physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
What Does a Foster Carer Need to Do?First and foremost a foster carer needs to be able to provide any child under their care a stable and loving environment where they can feel safe and wanted. Many only remain in foster care for a short time but they still require attention and to be shown that they are wanted by any adult charged with their care. It is an unfortunate fact that many of the children in foster care are there because their parent/parents cannot cope and in a direct response to this inability to cope do not show their children the love and affection they so desperately want and need.
A foster carer is also responsible twenty-four hours a day for the well being of any child in their care and as such many of them are already parents themselves and have a great deal of experience with dealing with children and the demands on time and attention that they pose.
Foster carers are also called upon to provide motivation and encouragement and to help children in their care to 'come out of their shell'. Many children, as a result of being moved from place to place, or as a result of little or no affection, find it difficult to communicate with their peers and so the ability to help build self-confidence is a must.
How Do I Become a Foster Carer?If you wish to become a foster carer – or foster parent – you must first register your interest with your local fostering agency. You will find details of these in your local Yellow Pages or alternatively you can contact your local Department of Social Services who will be able to supply you with a list of fostering agencies in your area.
The requirements for fostering a child may vary slightly from region to region but the general requirements stay the same.
They are as follows:
- Aged 21 or over
- Be in receipt of a regular income
- Undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), check.
- Be part of a stable family environment
- Be able to provide checkable character references
In addition to this you must be willing to allow an independent inspector assess your home and its safety as well as be able to assess how your family interacts – not only with each other – but with others as well.
If you feel you would like to become a foster carer you must also be able to dedicate a sufficient amount of your time to the child – or children – who may well find themselves under your care.