Becoming a foster carer is a one of the most rewarding things that a person can do. You are stepping in to make the life of a vulnerable child in need better, and that is a truly remarkable thing.
Given how much uncertainty there is the world right now, and how difficult things have been for people in the most vulnerable areas of society providing a safe and supportive space for a young person is a tremendous way to help create a brighter tomorrow. All over Great Britain, people are stepping up to help.
As we’re sure you’re aware, becoming a foster carer is not something that occurs overnight, and it’s not a step to be taken lightly. If you have made the decision that this is something that you want to do, then it’s time to start thinking about all the things you’ll need to create a happy secure home for the young person who will be in your care.
Here are a few things that you will need to make sure that you progress through the assessment process smoothly and to ensure that your home is ready for your foster.
Get ready to answer a lot of questions
We know that you aren’t expecting to be matched with a foster child overnight, but you should be prepared for the fact that becoming a foster carer is a process that can take between four and six months.
You are going to need to be comfortable with being assessed by a social worker, who will ask you questions about your childhood, your life experiences, your relationship with your parents, and more besides.
You should also make sure that you have people who can provide you with character references and who are happy to answer questions about you.
If you are starting to feel like you’re being put under a spotlight, remember that it is not only important that you are equipped with the right home and structure for a foster child, but that you can offer the kind of emotional support they need too.
Get a spare room ready
It’s a fact that anyone who wants to become a foster carer will need a spare room that can be just for their foster. Some people ask if they can become a foster carer without having that spare room but being able to provide a foster child with that space for privacy and security is absolutely crucial.
You do not need to own your home to become a foster carer (although you will need to have permission from your landlord or landlady if you are renting) but remember that foster children can be coming from all different kinds of circumstances where trust and safety may not have been in big supply. If you want more information about how to get your home ready, fostering agency Calon Cymru has a wealth of resources to help you learn more about fostering in Wales.
Get your support structure in place
Becoming a foster carer is a big deal for both of you and it’s important to remember that there will be times when you will need to ask for help. The good news is that foster care associations don’t abandon you as soon as you bring the foster child home.
They should have round the clock social care support available in case of emergencies, as well as plenty of opportunities for continued learning to make sure that you continue to develop your skills, senses and awareness. But it’s also important to remember to keep your friends and family updated as to what’s going on with your progress.
This is a big step that you’re taking, and it will make a big difference to have some support in your social circle.
Get ready for anything
While there is a lot of practical preparation you can do for becoming a carer, from getting their room nice and ready for them to getting a driver’s license if you don’t have one, one of the most important things to remember is that this is a process with a lot of emotions involved.
If there’s some negativity or hard times early on, don’t take it personally. If this seems like a big step for you, consider how strange and unsettling it can be for the child.
However, it’s also a process that can be full of joy and love. This can be an opportunity for you to learn from them as much as they learn from you, and you’ll discover strengths that you never knew you had.
Get ready for this to be the start of something more
Some people take on a foster child and that’s it for them, they’ve helped one child feel safer, more confident and more loved. However, if you’re expecting this to be a one and done kind of deal, get ready for a surprise.
There genuinely is nothing like the feeling that comes from giving a vulnerable child the support and safety they need, of stepping in and helping them take that first confident step into their future.
So, is it any wonder that a lot of carers make it their life? Some carers have helped more than 300 children. This could be the first step on an amazing journey.
Disclosure: this is a collaborative post