Fostering provides children who cannot live with their birth families a supportive home environment. If you are thinking about becoming foster carers, know that you will be caring for vulnerable children and helping give them stability during a difficult time.
When considering fostering, reflect honestly on your motivations, skills, home environment and ability to work cooperatively with the local authority. Talk to your own children and extended family. Get their thoughts and identify any concerns early on.
Preparing Your Home
While fancy gadgets or extensive renovations are not essential, every foster home must provide a safe, clean and nurturing environment. Consider if your home has adequate space for an additional child. Make any necessary upgrades or do some decluttering to ensure the child has reasonable privacy and storage for personal belongings. Also, think about establishing house rules and routines that will provide structure while allowing the child to feel comfortable. Getting to know the child’s caseworker can also help determine what specific accommodations may be needed.
Some foster children enter care having faced traumatic experiences such as abuse, neglect or domestic violence. As a result, they may exhibit anxiety, anger or other challenging behaviours. Educate yourself on trauma and its impacts on child development. Learn positive, nurturing ways to address difficult behaviours and help the child feel secure. Foster agencies like Orange Grove Foster Care often provide training on understanding trauma. Make use of these resources.
Preparing Your Family
Current children in the home need preparation too. Be age-appropriate and balanced when discussing fostering. Highlight potential rewards like welcoming a new sibling, as well as realities like sharing space. Listen to any worries and provide opportunities for them to ask questions. Reassure them that they will not lose your care or attention.
Extended family members should understand the sensitivities around foster care and need for confidentiality. Ensure they will be supportive, especially for introductory visits.
The Assessment Process
The assessment process considers your background, skills and motivations to ensure you can provide quality care. It may feel lengthy or invasive but exists to ensure safe, appropriate matches between carers and children placed in foster care. Be patient, honest and professional throughout.
The final foster panel review enables you to show your capability to foster. Feel proud discussing how you will welcome vulnerable children into a stable, caring home. Panel members want to see your commitment to supporting children in difficult situations.
Taking a Child into Your Home
Once approved, stay in close communication with your supervising social worker when taking a child into your home. Ask questions, voice any worries, and request help as needed. Understand that some behaviours or difficulties may surface over time. Continue accessing available training and support around addressing trauma or managing challenging situations.
Preparing well demonstrates your commitment to fostering. Stay focused on providing vulnerable children nurturing homes. With an open heart, flexibility and support, the challenges will be outweighed by the joys of giving children positive childhood experiences. Foster care truly changes lives, for both the children and carers involved.