Fostering a child can be one of the most amazing, rewarding and wonderful things you will ever do. However, some people rule themselves out because of common myths about what makes someone eligible to be a foster carer.
Alpha Plus Fostering, an independent fostering agency, currently has a ‘huge need’ to recruit more carers in Lancashire.
To help dispel some of the common misconceptions, they are holding an information event in Bamber Bridge on Saturday, September 15.
There will be a presentation with general information before visitors will have the chance to speak to experienced foster carers, social workers and support workers. Information booths will provide details on specific areas, including fostering siblings and financial support.
Graham and Anne-Marie Whittle have been fostering with Alpha Plus for six years but initially worried they wouldn’t be accepted.
“We felt that as we had not had children of our own we would not be suitable as foster parents,” said the couple, who are now 61 and 53 years old.
“But due to our other life skills and professional experience Alpha Plus were happy we had the right skills.
“If we had known how rewarding the experience was we would have become foster carers a lot earlier in life.”
So, what are some of the common myths surrounding fostering?
Myth 1 – ‘I’m too old to foster’
You do need to be over 21 to be a carer but there is no upper age limit.
Myth 2 – ‘I can’t afford to foster’
You do not need lots of money to foster. Foster children don’t need financially rich carers. You also receive an allowance if you choose to foster full time.
Myth 3 – ‘Renting rules me out’
Not owning your own home doesn’t mean you can’t foster but your landlord will need to provide the agency with permission. You must also have a spare bedroom.
Myth 4 – ‘Being single means I can’t be a foster carer’
Foster carers don’t need to be in relationships. In fact, agencies welcome applications from single people.
Myth 5 – ‘I don’t have the right qualifications’
No qualifications are required to become a foster carer, just some experience with and understanding of children.
Myth 6 – ‘I’m ruled out because English is my second language’
You must speak fluent English but it doesn’t have to be your first language. You also need to be a British citizen or have permanent leave to stay in the UK.
Lancashire County Council is currently Alpha Plus’ biggest referring local authority. In the first half of 2018 it referred an average of 71 children per month to the agency. That is 71 vulnerable children looking for a safe place in Lancashire where they can live a normal, stable family life.
Alpha Plus Fostering’s information event is being held from 11am to 2pm on Saturday, September 15, at Valley Church Coffee Shop, Fourfields, Bamber Bridge.
To book your place visit alphaplusfostering.co.uk/fostering-information-event
Anyone who is interested in fostering but is unable to make the event can visit alphaplusfostering.co.uk/contact-us and ask carer engagement officer Nicky to send an information pack or arrange an informal call.