Fostering When English is Your Second Language

The United Kingdom is a nation of incredible diversity, with around 7.7% of the population reporting English as their second language. This represents a huge five million people. That’s a lot of potential foster carers. If you’re thinking of fostering a child and English is your second language, don’t hesitate. Your journey to becoming a foster carer shouldn’t be stalled by your language or cultural background.

In fact, we’re always on the search for new foster carers to join the Olive Branch community. Not only can foster homes where English is spoken as a second language be incredibly enriching for the child, there are also plenty of benefits on offer for parents.

British citizenship and eligibility

You don’t have to be a British citizen to become a foster carer. UK residents are eligible to apply as foster carers and are offered the same support and benefits as citizens. If you have the legal right to reside in the UK, you’ve already advanced to the second stage of becoming a foster carer.

The benefits of fostering when English is your second language

There are so many benefits and rewards that come with fostering a child, some of them unique to people who speak English as a second language. Below, we highlight some of our favourites:

Practice your English

When you welcome an English speaking foster child into your home, you’re also unlocking a wonderful chance to practice your English. Kids can be incredibly chatty and engaging in conversations is one of the best ways to bond with your foster child. Daily conversations in English benefit both you and your foster child, so don’t be shy. When you foster a child you’ll also find yourself connecting with other parents and members of the community, which is another great learning opportunity.

Offer support to newcomers

Children in foster care come from all different backgrounds and for many, English is also their second language. At Olive Branch we see foster carers who speak English as a second language as an incredible opportunity to support children who are new to the United Kingdom. You may have experienced the same senses of wonder and fear they’re feeling when you first arrived in the country, which can be helpful when it comes to bonding and building connections.

Often, we’ll try to place children from different backgrounds with foster carers who share the same heritage. This can be a brilliant way to reduce culture shock and help the child settle into their new environment as quickly as possible.

Share your culture with others

For many people who speak English as a second language, fostering is an incredible opportunity to share their culture with others. Welcoming a child into your home is a chance to show off not only your language, but also your culture as a whole. From cooking your favourite meals to involving them in traditional celebrations, fostering when English is your second language helps to build the multicultural community Britain is so proud of.

Just think, 20 years down the line your foster child may still have fond memories of enjoying Polish pierogi dumplings around the dinner table or celebrating the Diwali festival of light. Fostering is a real chance to share what makes your culture unique.

Immerse yourself in the local community

One of the biggest joys of having a child is the sense of community it brings. From chatting to fellow parents in the playground to attending birthday parties, fostering a child is a great way to immerse yourself in the local community and meet like-minded parents.

Common concerns

Every day we chat to people about concerns they have over becoming a foster parent. In most cases, they’re entirely unwarranted. Below, we address some of the most common concerns held by foster parents who speak English as a second language.

Round-the-clock support

One of the biggest concerns we hear from foster carers who speak English as a second language is regarding support. Some people worry that without 100% fluency they won’t receive the same assistance and support offered to other foster carers. This couldn’t be further from the truth. At Olive Branch we’re committed to offering all our foster carers round-the-clock support, regardless of their cultural background.

Financial assistance

Raising children can be expensive, which is why we ensure all our foster carers receive financial support. This includes foster carers who speak English as a second language. There are many different types of credits, benefits and allowances available to foster parents, including a weekly allowance to cover expenses such as food, transport and clothing.

At a minimum you’ll receive around £132 per week, though the amount can vary and increases significantly for older children. In some cases, foster carers can receive up to £405 per week. This ensures you’ll have the financial freedom to support and nurture your child, as well as enjoy activities like trips to the cinema, zoo and fairgrounds.

Do I need any qualifications?

Another common question asked by potential foster carers who speak English as a second language is whether it’s necessary to have any qualifications? At Olive Branch our top priorities are love and support, which means you don’t need to have any qualifications or previous experience in childcare to become a foster carer.

Instead, we carry out detailed assessments of all our new foster carers to ensure we’re placing children in a safe space. We look at things like your personality and enthusiasm levels, your living environment and whether you have the capacity to offer love, kindness and care to children in need. As long as you tick these boxes, we’d love to have you on board.

Want to learn more?

We’re always on the search for new foster homes, including those where English is spoken as a second language. Want to know more about fostering a child if you speak a language other than English? Get in touch with the Olive Branch team today to find out more about our fostering opportunities.