A recent study has shown that there are many commonly-held assumptions preventing people from seeking to become foster carers. With so many misunderstandings stopping people from applying, it is unlikely that the current shortfall in available carers will improve, so we would like to clear up some of the myths surrounding fostering.
Myth 1: ‘If you live in rented accommodation, you can’t foster.’
1 in 3 people in the UK believe that you are unable to foster if you are renting accommodation, but this is not the case. You can foster whether you are a home owner or tenant, living in a house or a flat, as long as you have a spare bedroom for the sole use of a foster child. If you are renting accommodation, you will simply need to have a secure lease and be planning to stay in the property for the foreseeable future.
Myth 2: ‘You are unable to foster if you are gay.’
Research indicates that 33% of people believe those who are gay are not able to foster. Applications are in fact welcomed from those who are straight, gay and bisexual, whether they are single or are living with a partner. It is important that there is a wide range of foster carers available at any given time, with different experiences and skill sets, so that the right match can be made when a child is in need of care.
Myth 3: ‘You must be in full-time employment to foster.’
A third of people are unaware that you receive financial support to foster and believe that you need to be in full-time employment. A generous allowance is given to cover the varied needs of each foster child, and to allow the children and carers to have a good standard of living, although it is worth noting that this allowance is paid when children are in care and is not paid when carers do not have placements. Foster carers have responsibilities such as attending meetings and training courses, as well as helping children to attend school and contact with birth families, so flexibility is important in fostering. We generally ask that couples arrange their working hours so that one carer can be available full time, and that single foster carers be at home full time or have flexible, part-time employment.
Myth 4: ‘You won’t be able to foster if you are over 55 years old.’
54% of people hold the view that you will not be approved as a foster carer if you are over 55 years old. There is, however, no specific upper age limit for fostering! When people apply to foster, we look at everyone’s individual circumstances, including their health, lifestyle and support network. Life experience can be extremely valuable in fostering, and we encourage people of a variety of ages and backgrounds to apply.
Myth 5: ‘You cannot foster if you are a single male.’
It appears that 16% of people are under the impression that if you are a man, you cannot become a foster carer. You can foster whether you are single, married, co-habiting or divorced, and this applies to both males and females. Each foster carer brings their own unique mixture of history, experiences, abilities and knowledge and uses them to help children and their families. Being single should not prevent anyone applying who believes they have the ability and time to make a difference to a child in foster care.
In the hope that this article has debunked the most common myths about fostering, if you would like to talk us about how to foster you can attend one of our meet-and-greet fostering events. Click here to discover our upcoming events in the UK – https://www.nfa.co.uk/events