Becoming a foster carer is a big decision and one that many people were understandably hesitant about during the current coronavirus pandemic. Thankfully, we’re now moving towards normality. But the question still remains, is now a good time to care for foster children?
Read on as we take a closer look.
Lockdown and fostering
While the worst of the lockdown (and the pandemic) seem to have passed, the unprecedented situation has made many individuals and families examine their financial, mental and physical wellbeing over the past few months.
For some, that’s left them questioning whether they’re in the right position to commit to fostering, with an additional person to care for. Already, the number of people looking to take children in has halved, according to Barnardo’s, while the number of referrals made to fostering services has increased by 44%.
The rise is a result of added pressure on many families who were previously likely to have their children taken into care. Strain on existing mental or physical health issues may mean that parents have been unable to continue caring for their children during lockdown. As domestic violence cases have also increased since the start of the pandemic, more children have been removed from their homes for safety.
Financial struggles have also contributed to the number of children seeking foster carers, as many people have been furloughed or lost their jobs. While the number of children seeking foster placements is an excellent reason to consider fostering, it is important to figure out whether it is right for you.
Is being a foster carer right for me?
Before you can decide whether now is the right time for you to become a foster carer, you need to know all of the facts. Fostering is incredibly rewarding, but it can also be a challenge, so it’s important that you have a good support network. Having a partner, friends or family that you can reach out to during difficult times for moral support and advice can be key. You can also find support groups who will be going through or have gone through the same situations and will understand any issues you may face.
Above all else, being a patient and compassionate person is critical when it comes to fostering. Many people assume that the child or children in their care will be grateful to be placed in their new home, but this isn’t always the case. Children can be angry about leaving their previous accommodation, even if it wasn’t safe for them, as this is their ‘normal.’
Being placed with new guardians in different surroundings and being separated from what they are used to can cause strong feelings of anger, sadness and resentment. Anyone thinking about becoming a foster carer should examine their preconceptions, prepare themselves for this outcome and remember that being patient is crucial.
It’s also very important to remember that at some point you will have to say goodbye to the children in your care. Consider if this is something that you could do, especially if a child is with you for a long period of time.
What types of foster care are there?
If you do want to foster after lockdown, you should know that foster care isn’t a one-size-fits-all option when it comes to placing children. There are also many types of fostering. Fostering can be for short-term placements or long-term where a child stays until they are at least 18 years old. Respite fostering can cover very short stays from as little as one night or a few weeks. During sibling fostering situations, siblings are kept together. For more information, take a look at the different types of fostering.
How to get started with fostering after lockdown
To get started on your fostering journey there are a few stages you will have to go through. The first is to make an enquiry with us over the phone, by email or by filling out our contact form and we’ll get in touch with you to discuss things further. The next stage will be a home visit where we will come to your home to discuss becoming a foster carer in more detail.
We’ll give you an application form and answer any questions that you might have. When you are ready, you can send us back the completed form and we will begin the assessment. The assessment consists of a variety of processes including around 6 to 8 home visits and statutory checks.
Over the course of the home visits your social worker will ask detailed questions about your background, family, relationships, personality and employment. The statutory checks include a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), identity checks, medical assessments and employment references as well as visits to three referees.
These questions and enhanced checks will allow us to complete a detailed report about you and whether you would be suitable to foster. In addition to the reports you will have to attend a two-day ‘Skills to Foster’ training course. This course will give you all the information you need on how to be a great foster carer.
After we obtain this information and you have completed the course, we will go through our findings with you and make any necessary changes. We will then present our findings to a panel of independent experts who will interview you with your social worker. The panel will decide whether you would be suitable to foster and you can then be approved if they agree.
Find out more about fostering after lockdown
If you are thinking about fostering after lockdown, there’s no harm in finding out a bit more. Olive Branch Fostering is on hand for potential foster carers across the North West and Midlands. Don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team to arrange an informal chat about how fostering after lockdown works.