If you are considering becoming a Foster Carer there are many things you will need to consider. One of the predominant things that potential carers worry about is how they will cope with difficult behaviours, or how they will get to know the child who is placed in their care.
Children in care can have complex behaviours because they have a lot to contend with emotionally. They have left their families behind and are coming to a strange home to live with you. They are just as scared as you are and sometimes they are angry and confused too. As a new carer you will have a support network around you to help you to support the child through this difficult change. It is hard work but it can also be extremely rewarding.
One of our Foster Carers, Lesley who has now been a carer for Alpha Plus for over 8 years provides these top tips for new carers:
Have no expectations, some children will struggle to form strong bonds with you at first; they will likely be confused, scared and maybe even angry. Give them time and space!
Learn to read between the lines. They might struggle to communicate with you and reading between the lines is likely to help you in meeting their needs. Many children in care have needed to be very independent and struggle to know when it’s ok to ask for help.
Observe a lot. You will learn a lot.
Try not to keep level with the child’s emotions – stay calm
Speak with other Foster Carers. They are the best support network you can have, they will help you to realise that you are doing ok and that they are facing the same challenges. Sometimes you might feel like they are the only other people who understand.
Gather as much information about the Child(ren) as you possibly can before you meet them, such as likes and dislikes. This will help you to make them feel comfortable in your home as soon as possible and will help you start to build a bond.
Take each day as it comes, some will be better than others. Hold on to the small wins and the progress they show, this will keep you strong through the rocky patches.
Get to know your Supervising Social Worker really well and be honest with them about your feelings so that they can offer you the best possible support. They are there to help you provide the best possible care.
Attend training and get to know your peers. Training is invaluable and will help you to understand your child’s behaviour better while developing strategies to support them. You will also gain invaluable knowledge about the support available for the young person in your care.
Be prepared to be busy! Between school runs, evening and weekend activities and birth family contact you will be out of the house a lot.
Have your own voice at meetings – Be heard! It is your job to advocate on behalf of these children.
Don’t rush getting to know the child – move at their pace.
Be prepared for chaos, mess, and hopefully lots of fun!