Fostering and adoption often go hand in hand; after all, both involve taking care of another person’s child. However, the differences between the two are vast, and what many people often forget is that fostering is as much a career choice as anything else. There is currently a shortage of foster carers in the UK, and many more families are needed to fill the gap and ensure all children are given the support and care they need. According to The Fostering Network, there are over 64,000 children living with around 55,000 families across the UK, and it is predicted that a further 9,070 foster families will be needed over the coming year.
Could you be a foster carer?
Foster care has a reputation for being an option for retirement-age individuals and parents suffering from empty nest syndrome, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Single parents, men, women, same-sex couples, the young and the old are all welcome to apply to become foster carers. What’s more important is that you are open to learning new skills and able to adapt your existing skills to new challenges. This is precisely why parents make excellent foster carers – who else is used to facing new and unexpected challenges every single day?
Why parents make ideal foster carers
As a parent, finding flexible work that fits around family life can be a struggle. You may have already dismissed fostering as many assume that they can’t have their own children and be a foster carer. On the contrary, having your own children can make you an ideal foster carer. Obviously, it will be a decision that your entire family will need to be on board with, but having your own children around can help to create a strong and stable environment for a young person.
If you are returning to work after having children, fostering will allow you to use your existing skills and develop new skills in childcare. Not to mention your commitments as a foster carer will fit perfectly around your commitments as a parent.
How to become a foster carer
The first step is to make sure your entire family is onboard with the idea. Next, you will need to decide if you would like to foster with your local authority or with a private fostering agency. After your initial enquiry, you will often be invited to a group meeting where you will be able to learn more about the process and ask any questions you might have. You will then be visited in your home by a social worker who will talk you through the process, training and assessment. After this, everyone over the age of 18 who will be living in your home will undergo a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check. Your application will then be handed over to an independent panel who will decide if you are eligible to become a foster carer. It is a highly rewarding and challenging career choice that will allow you to develop your skills, enrich your life and allow you to help those truly in need.