The process of becoming a foster carer can be an exciting one. It marks the start of an incredible journey in which you’ll offer life-changing support to a vulnerable child. But it can also be daunting. There’s so much to take into consideration, and it’s no secret that there could be a few challenges along the way.
Want to get a better idea of what it’s like? Read on as we delve into the challenges foster carers can expect to face at one point or another, as well as the plentiful rewards you’ll reap when you welcome a young person into your home.
Challenges of fostering
Fostering a child requires plenty of structure, discipline, love and kindness. But unfortunately, regardless of how good a foster carer you are, it’s inevitable that you’ll stumble across a few challenges. To help you anticipate the obstacles, here are a couple of typical foster carer challenges.
Coping with challenging behaviours
Many foster children have experienced struggles in their lives. As a way of coming to terms with the things they’ve been through and experienced, they often display seemingly self-destructive behaviours such as tantrums and violence against those trying to help them.
If your foster child begins to manifest these behaviours, it’s important to remember why they could be acting that way. To help them overcome these struggles and deal with what they’ve been going through, be understanding and patient. For example, if they’ve experienced abuse, it will only make things worse if you begin to shout at them.
There’s no need to worry about how you’ll tackle these behaviours though as it will be something that you’ll go through in your training. While no two children act in the exact same way, the training will help you with behavioural management so you can identify the best way to support each individual.
Another challenge that many foster carers experience is with managing their energy. Burnout is something that quite a few foster carers go through, so it’s nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
By putting so much effort into helping a young person overcome their own struggles, as well as providing around the clock care, it can become difficult to balance your personal life on top of that.
If you begin to feel run down, tired or unmotivated, your Support Worker can always help. They’ll work with you to make some key changes in your day to day life, helping you find some time for yourself. At the end of the day, you need to be able to care for yourself so you can provide the best care for your children.
There are different ways in which they can support you in regaining some time for yourself. Respite carers can often step in and take care of your child for a few days while you take a rest. Alternatively, you could also ask a partner or a person in your support network to take on some responsibilities while you take a couple of hours for yourself.
Liaising with biological families
As a foster carer, you’ll likely have to liaise with biological families at one point or another. The aim of foster placements is often to reunite a child with their parents when it is safe for them to do so. As such, there is ongoing contact with biological parents which isn’t always as simple as it sounds.
In many cases, the parents are aware that they need help, but others can be resistant to the process. In these scenarios, things can get complicated. For example, some may take their anger out on you as they struggle with the idea that you’re trying to help.
However, regardless of how fractious these relationships can become, having contact with their biological parents can boast benefits for the child’s emotional well-being, so it’s essential to put effort and time into maintaining them.
If and when you need to interact with birth families, always speak to your Support Worker first. They’ll be able to advise you on what’s happened in the past and guide you on the best way to liaise with them. During your appointments with them, remain open and good-spirited as this will be key for building a positive relationship.
Benefits of fostering
While fostering may have its challenges, its benefits certainly outweigh them. From emotional rewards to benefits elsewhere, there’s plenty to look forward to.
Changing a life for the better
The most incredible reward any foster carer will experience is being able to make a positive difference to a child’s life. With many children experiencing their own struggles and difficulties, you’ll be offering them a unique chance to turn their life around – something they wouldn’t otherwise get.
Many young people in foster care have experienced trauma and struggle to trust others, so being able to support them in overcoming this can help them in working towards a much brighter future.
Extending your family
By welcoming a child into your home, you’ll be extending your family. Many children form incredible relationships with their carers and stay in touch for many years, even after they’ve left home. For some families, fostering also offers the opportunity to have a family without financial concern.
Fostering is a unique experience that offers the chance for foster carers to learn more about themselves and develop in a way in which they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. Many parents report feeling much stronger and confident than before they started their fostering journey.
In addition to this, fostering will provide the chance to learn new skills. With children having different needs and backgrounds, it’s essential for parents to be aware of different personal issues. As such, you’ll be able to learn how to overcome and support individuals with these issues.
Become a foster carer
Ready to become a foster carer? Start your application today. The friendly team at Olive Branch Fostering are available to answer any queries you have and will be able to support you every step of the way. To get started, call 01706 558910 or email [email protected].