When considering foster parenting as a career choice, there are so many thoughts to process. Sure, there will be late nights and a lot of tears, and fostering is not for the faint-hearted. That being said, a job like this really pushes people to realise their full potential and there is an abundance of rewarding elements too. So, if you are thinking about starting a career down this route, here are five things to think about first.
Which Agency to Use
Given how many children there are currently awaiting placement in the system, the demand for professional, private fostering agencies is as real as ever. Networks like Fostering People, with years of experience behind them and a credible team of expert professionals, are the most reliable starting point to get the ball rolling.
The Emotional Toll
Mentally preparing is just as important as the physical checklist too. There is a high chance of disturbance, non-conformity, and stark variation from the normal status quo, so preparing for this is beyond essential. Everyone handles this task in the way that works best for them, but there are some general tips that work for most circumstances.
- Get your home ready as this will make the welcoming go more smoothly, but also help you feel prepared in general.
- Do all the training that is on offer from your chosen agency. Some of these courses are mandatory, but there will be additional things to draw from too. Do it all to get a clearer idea of the wider fostering scope.
Children of all ages need foster placements, from babies right through to older teenagers. Whichever age range you decide to care for, there are bound to be practicalities involved in terms of childcare, school arrangements, family visitations, and more. So, this has to be factored into the process and weighed against any pre-existing commitments or routines.
Other Children Living in the House
If you already have children at home, birth children, or otherwise, they will be affected by the addition of a foster ward. Bringing them into the decision process is recommended, and most foster agencies will insist on being in contact with and discussing the placement with anyone living in the house regardless of their age. As we’ve discussed above, there are bound to be disruptions whether that is through extreme behaviours or changes in usual routine so it is important that everyone is on the same page and comfortable before the placement begins.
You Might Not Succeed
Finally, accepting that you may not succeed is a hard thing to get your head around, but it’s a necessary one. There are not always happy endings to foster placement stories and children may need to be moved on for the safety and sanity of everyone involved. People clash, and older children especially can often be extremely resistant.
Above all, this is a major decision. While the goal is to help and make a difference in a young person’s journey, all the pieces have to fit to impact positive change.