Advice For Those New to Foster Caring
Becoming a foster carer is a big step to make. Although it can be extremely fulfilling, it can also be very daunting when starting out, especially if you don’t know what to expect. We have therefore pulled together our top six tips on what you need to know when you’re new to the foster carer process:
1. Types of fostering
There are many different types of fostering, from mainstream and emergency, to remand and fostering for disabled children. It is important that you understand the differences and consider which type of fostering you are happy to take on. This guide will help you understand more about each of the different areas.
2. Preparation and training
It can be nerve-wracking inviting a new child into your life, however, help is always at hand. There are support groups, social worker visits, buddy systems, training and much more, offering you foster caring advice and support. Cherrie and Paul McConnachie who are foster carers in Flintshire say “Fostering Solutions has provided amazing support throughout” and “we also love the training programmes on offer and meeting with other foster carers”.
The children that come into your care may have suffered previous emotional or physical trauma. As a carer, it is important that you are able to cope with the challenging feelings you may face. It may therefore help if you practice mindfulness, which is a process whereby you accept and let go of any negative thoughts and emotions. This allows you to listen to and support your child in the best possible way, without passing judgement.
All children in care come from different backgrounds and so you will need to be able to adapt quickly to their situation. Before any child arrives in your home, it’s therefore important to make sure you can be open to change and perhaps even consider ways that you can adapt your family life, to make it a happy and safe place for your fostered child to grow up in.
5. Family Life
Inviting a new child into your home is a big step. It will have a big impact on your family, whether you already have children of your own or not. As a new carer, you need to consider how fostering will affect your family and make sure everyone is comfortable and has enough time to adjust to the new situation.
6. Social support system
As a carer, it is important to develop a strong network of people that can help your child thrive, whether that’s other people they can talk to, or children of a similar age that they can play with. However, there will also be times when you need help and advice yourself, or just someone to talk to. It’s therefore important to have your own support network of friends and family. Claire Hogg has been a single carer for over eight years and emphasises the importance of these networks, saying “being a foster carer is incredibly demanding so making time for myself is important and this is where the support network comes in”.