Fostering Article - April/May 22
Fostering – Is It Right For You?
Thousands of children enter the care system every year, through no fault of their own. If you feel you could offer a child a nurturing home, and you want a more rewarding job, it’s worth considering fostering as a career.
Who can foster?
If you’re over 21, care about children, have a spare bedroom and can offer a stable home environment, then you can apply to become a foster carer. You don’t need to be in a relationship or own your home, and your gender, ethnicity and sexuality don’t matter.
The fostering service will want to make sure any child they place in your care is safe. They’ll therefore run a series of background checks, and you’ll need to provide references. The full assessment process can take six to eight months.
How much do foster carers earn?
Rates of pay vary between locations and organisations, and sometimes depend on how much experience you have and whether the child has additional needs. Most fostering services pay significantly more than the government’s minimum fostering allowance, and you’ll usually receive extra money towards holidays and presents. There are also significant tax benefits to fostering.
Could I cope?
Fostering can be challenging, but you’ll receive ongoing training and support. Foster children come from all different backgrounds. Some have had a difficult start to life and will need help to overcome that.
Can I choose the children I foster?
You’ll be asked for your preferences, such as the age group you’re interested in fostering. Foster services try to ensure a good match between foster carer and child, and of course you have the right to refuse to foster any child who you don’t feel able to support.
As you gain more experience, you may want to put yourself forward for specialist placements, for example children who need more intensive support. You’d then receive additional training and potentially be paid a higher fee.
How long would I foster each child for?
Some children may come to you for just a few days. Others might end up staying for months, or even years. If you don’t feel able to foster full-time, you could offer short-term placements or respite care. Many foster children end up going back to their families, while others go forward for adoption or stay in foster care.
You’ll find lots of information at www.fosterline.info and there’s also a free helpline: 0800 040 7675.
If you are considering fostering, the best thing to do is speak to your local authority. They’ll be able to tell you more about the fostering process and answer any questions you may have.