By Steve Stockley, Foster Carer, Adopter and Fosterline Manager. Foster carers are ordinary, regular people that perform an extraordinary role. They support some of the most vulnerable children and young people within our society, often with little recognition for their hard work and dedication. Fostering is an immense commitment for the whole family, requiring you to work with a number of people across many professions. As a foster carer, you will more than likely have to deal with tears, tantrums, arguments, challenges, vulnerabilities and disappointments. I guess I'm not selling this to you right now but, despite the downsides, fostering is a wonderfully rewarding career. When a child in your care expresses a smile of acknowledgement or holds your finger for comfort – or you receive a nod of respect from a teenager, then it all becomes worthwhile and you don’t need thanks or accolades.
Fostering is a family commitment
I’m entering my ninth year as a foster carer and in those years my wife and I have fostered seven children and adopted a wonderful little boy as our son. I know what a difference our fostering community can make to children, young people and their families. This is what my children have said: “I was almost 9 when my parents began fostering and when it was first mentioned I was excited that a new child was going to come into our family. I feel closer to my family and the adoption of one placement now provides me with a brother.” “I was 6 years old when the first child arrived. I didn't really understand what fostering was. I'm pleased that we foster as a family and it gives me some perspective as when I'm down or sad I tend to think about what has happened to some of the children that have been in my family and how lucky I am.”
What is Fostering?
Fostering is a way of providing a nurturing and safe environment for somebody else’s child within your own home. Depending on the type of fostering you embark on, the length of time the child or young person would be with you varies greatly. It could be days, months, or even years - regardless of the duration of their stay, they will be part of your family. All foster carers receive a weekly fostering allowance which is intended to cover the costs of looking after a child in foster care. Some fostering services also pay their foster carers a fee on top of the allowance, in recognition of their time, skills and experience.
Could you do it?
Many myths still exist around who can apply to foster and, although no one has the right to foster, foster carers are needed from a wide diversity of backgrounds and experiences. Applications are welcomed no matter your education, ethnic or religious background, whether you are straight or gay, married or single.
All your questions about fostering can be answered by Fosterline which is a free government-funded, confidential and impartial helpline and interactive website www.fosterline.info delivered by FosterTalk on behalf of the Department for Education in England. Highly trained advisor's are available weekdays 9:00am to 5:00pm on 0800 040 7675.