We talk to a lot of people who for one reason or another start of their conversation with, “I would like to foster but I don’t think I can because…..”. Many people, perhaps through fear of rejection do not come forward because they have already decided they would not be suitable. This at best is a shame and at work a travesty for society!
The Fostering Network suggests that approximately 10% of foster carers are single carers. My anecdotal evidence suggests it could be up to 30%.
Being single does not stop you from fostering. I’ve known many fantastic single foster carers. The It can at time be more preferable for some children to be placed with single foster carers depending on the needs of the child. Some children need one to one attention, some children need an all-female household due to previous trauma and some children would be better placed with a single male carer. There is no ‘standard child’ and no ‘standard circumstance’. Children need love and structure in their live and many single carers and single parents for that matter can provide that. What a single foster carer would need is support around them who can offer both practical and emotional support.
Many people mistakenly believe that if they are gay they are unable to foster. In our modern day it is recognised that like any other sort of family, a gay couple or single person with the right attitude can make a difference in the child’s life like anyone else. The base need to love, care, offer stability and continuity can be met by any person who has that capacity to offer. Sexuality need not be of significant relevance.
I’m too old or too young to foster
I can’t tell you the amount of times I have been asked by someone if they are too old to foster. There is no age limit to foster. An assessment requires a medical to ensure you are medically fit to foster and will assess your resilience and energy in considering your suitability and who you might be able to care for. The assessment does not judge a person on their age but what they can offer at that point.
The same goes for young carers. You can be approved from the age of 21 to be a foster carer. That does not mean that every 21 will be suitable or have the required experience but in the right circumstances a young foster carer may be exactly what a child needs. The bottom line is, if you think you might be able to foster and you are aged over 21 then explore.
I don’t have children
Having children will provide people with experience of children. It doesn’t necessarily make them great parents or potential foster carers. Not having children doesn’t mean you haven’t got other experience or a natural ability and approach that would suit being a foster carer.
Many people gain experience of children from friends or family members, work or volunteering and / or acquire skills from simple life experience. Whether someone has had problems conceiving or simply did not have children as the opportunity did not present itself, they could still be good foster carers.
(Note – The discussion on this subject is often complex. For couples or individuals who have not had their own birth children but would like a child to legally join their family, there should be discussion about adoption as part of any fostering discussion to properly understand their motivations and abilities).
I don’t own my own home
Simple one this – It doesn’t matter. As long as you reside in a property which offers you a secure ongoing tenancy and the landlord is in agreement with you fostering there is no problem.
I work can I foster?
Now this is an interesting one. Central government has strongly suggested that working foster carers should be considered. However, local government councils will often need foster carers to be available 24 / 7 to meet the needs of children to support school runs, to be available during school holidays, to attend meetings that will be during a normal work day and to be able to be reactive to any crisis. If, for example a couple were able to work around each other than can certainly work. If someone works from home and can be flexible that can work, and if someone works on a bank basis whereby they might work during periods of no child being placed or whilst the child is in school that can also work.
Different fostering organisations will have different views on this but it is worth exploring how your work lifestyle may fit with fostering and not rule yourself out.
English is not my first language
There is a requirement for applicants to have a good understanding of English and be able to complete daily logs and the TSDS standards within the first year of fostering. The sector accepts that not everyone will have the same level of English and requires carers from many different ethnicities and cultures. English being a second language does not preclude you from fostering.
I have young children, can I foster?
Fostering provider policies vary widely. I’ve known some local authorities say that you can’t foster if you have a child under 5. I’ve known some fostering providers say you can’t foster if you have a child under 2. For me personally I have always seen the worth in suggesting that the youngest child should be at least 1 year and then exploring the family dynamic in more detail.
I have a criminal record can I still foster?
The short answer is yes, the longer answer is ‘tell me more about what happened, when it happened, what did you learn, and how does that affect the person you are today’. This is a very subjective area and depends on a lot of factors relating to the nature of the offence, the time period, the age you were at the point at which the offence was committed.
I don’t drive can I foster?
Although I am aware of some local authorities who expressly wish for their foster carers to drive, this is not a regulatory requirement. In reality yes it is a log easier if you drive. If you live in London or in a big city with good public transport it won’t matter so much, but if you live in the middle of a rural location with no means to travel to support a child or get to meetings then it could be an issue. Bottom line is you should not rule yourself out because of it.
I had a difficult childhood / I was in care myself
I’ve heard this a lot over the years. People who may have had a difficult childhood maybe somehow holding an unfair residual guilt or feeling of self worth. I would say it could even be a positive. Those that have had a difficult childhood may well be exactly the type of person who may understand what a child is going through and stick with them when things become difficult.
Are you ruling yourself out too soon?
Why not have a chat to us and we can explore with you
Head of Placement & Recruitment