One in ten people do not really understand what fostering is, or why children have to go into foster care. There are thousands out there that think they are not eligible because of their gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age, the hours they work, their home environment and many more. They couldn’t be more wrong. We look at the top 10 assumptions and quite simply blow them out of the water!
1. I don’t own a house
In this day and age, that is not unusual! It certainly doesn’t mean you are not able to foster. If you are secure in rental accommodation and plan to stay there for the foreseeable future, that’s fine. The only thing you need is space. If you can provide a room for each child you foster, there is no reason to think your home would not be suitable for them.
2. I can’t afford it
A third of people do not realise that they get financial assistance to foster. The allowance you receive means that you do not need to be in full-time employment, in fact we generally ask that you (or your partner if you are fostering together) are available full-time as a foster carer, or can work flexible hours. You will need to be able to help children attend school, make contact with birth families, attend meetings and go on training courses, all of which takes time and flexibility. The allowance means you can have a good standard of living for both you and the child or young person you are fostering. It is worth noting, this provision is not made when you do not have anyone living with you.
3. I’m gay
1 in 3 people think that caring for children or young people is off limits because they are not in a heterosexual relationship. But why? Whether you are straight, lesbian or gay, it is not your sexual orientation that matters, it’s your life experience, skills and knowledge that matter. You might be the perfect match for someone.
4. I’m too old
Nearly half of the nation thinks that if you are over 55 you are too old to be approved. It’s crazy when you think that many people do not even become parents until they are in their 50’s. Gordon Brown, the former Prime Minister, had his second son James aged 55, while Sir Paul McCartney fathered his daughter Beatrice aged 61. We put a lower limit of 21 on our foster carers, but there is no upper limit. We instead place the focus on your health, lifestyle and support network.
5. I’m a single man
16% of people think that if they are a single man, they cannot foster. The same does not apply to single women, although as many as 30% assumed you have to be in a relationship. We welcome different histories, experiences, abilities and knowledge and whether that comes from a single person, married couple, co-habiting couple or a divorced person, it doesn’t matter. As long as you can give a child or young person your time, you could be eligible.
6. I don’t have kids / I’ve never worked with kids
Having children does give you insight into what life is like with a child, as well as valuable experience, but it doesn’t make you an expert in coping with children or young people. It certainly does not mean you must be excluded if you don’t have children. In fact 60% of our carers come from backgrounds that are nothing to do with children. As long as you have gained some experience through family contact, volunteering or employment, we can still use your skills.
7. I’m not sure I would be accepted because of my ethnicity
We look after children and young people regardless of their ethnicity. Britain is a multi-cultural country and so we happily accept foster carers from a wide-range of backgrounds. It is of huge benefit to us to have people who have experience of ethnic groups as this is often very important to the child or young person we are placing.
In all of these instances, the important thing is not your circumstances, it is who you are: your life experience, your skills, and your ability to accommodate and support a child. We take it all into account when we assess you as a carer so that when it comes to matching you with a child or young person that needs support, we can see exactly who has the life experience and capabilities to deal with the individual looking for a foster carer.
For more information, sign up to our fostering events and get to know some of the foster carers in your area. You may be surprised to see just how varied they are!