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Part 1: Busting the top 9 myths on who can be a foster carer

There’s a national and local shortage of foster carers…

We need to encourage more people to think a little bit more about what fostering is and if they have the capacity to become a foster carer. So, we’re on a myth-busting mission to debunk some of the myths that are frequently held about fostering that could be putting potential foster carers off.

Here at Foster Portsmouth we’re always looking for potential foster carers to come forward. The children that we care for all come from different backgrounds, cultures and walks of life and because of that, we need a varied pool of foster carers to ‘fish’ from.

We don’t have a ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to who’s a good fit to foster. Our foster carers come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, ages and plenty of different life experiences. Just as every child is unique, every foster family is unique too.

Unfortunately, there are so many of you that could be excellent foster carers of the future but are either put off by the many myths and misconceptions you’ve heard or simply don’t realise that you have the skills, experience, and character to make valuable changes to more than one life.

Myth #1 I’m not in a relationship so I’m unable to foster

There are many myths around foster care, one of them being that a foster family needs to be the traditional family unit and have two parents at home. This isn’t the case with Foster Portsmouth, in fact, single foster parents are highly sought after.

If you’re single and thinking about fostering, please don’t let that stop you. You can make a real difference to a vulnerable child’s life. We’d recommend having a good support network, and when you join our fostering family you’ll receive support from our dedicated social work team, along with your fellow foster carers.

Here’s what one of our single foster carers Amanda, part of one of our trailblazing Mockingbird hubs, has to say:

“Being part of the Mockingbird programme has helped me in my fostering journey massively. As a single foster carer and having no one at home to get advice from or let off steam to the Mockingbird programme and my hub provide a massive amount of support and camaraderie, and I’ve made lifelong friendships with the other foster carers within my hub.”

Read more about the Mockingbird programme here.


Myth #2 I rent so I can’t foster

You don’t need to own your home to be able to foster. Our foster carers home circumstances vary wildly. We have foster carers that own their homes, some that rent from a private landlord and some that rent from their local council.

If you rent your home, you’ll need to ask your landlord for permission, and we’ll need to see this in writing before we can proceed.

John, one of our assessing social workers says:

“Although it’s not a problem to live in rented accommodation, we’ll need to know that you can provide stability to a child, so it wouldn’t be recommended to consistently live in short term rental properties and move around a lot if you were to become a foster carer.”

Myth #3 I’ve heard that those from the LGBTQ+ community can’t foster

There are many different qualities that make up a foster carer, but sexual orientation plays no part in whether or not you can be assessed. We have many single and coupled foster carers from the LGBTQ+ community and greatly welcome new applications. Some of the children that we care for are from the LGBTQ+ community themselves and would feel more comfortable with a foster carer from a similar background that can understand some of the issues that they may have faced.

young male and female couple looking into camera and smiling

Myth #4 I’m probably too young or old to foster

Whilst we have a younger age limit of 21, there is no upper limit on age. Our assessment process focuses on whether you are mentally and physically fit enough to fulfil a young person’s needs. Here at Foster Portsmouth the ages vary wildly. Our youngest carer was approved when she was 23 and our oldest carer is 71.

Our foster carers Emma and Chris became foster carers at a young age. Emma says:

“My husband and I were approved 13 years ago when we were 23 and 25 years old. Some of our first young people we cared for were teenagers who were going through difficult times in their lives and were struggling to open up, so being younger helped us relate to them a little better and make a connection quickly through similar interests like the type of music they listened to or films they’d recently seen as we were interested in these interests ourselves.”

Myth #5 I have a health issue so I can’t foster

A disability or health issue won’t stop you becoming a foster carer if you can provide for a child’s needs. You might want to think about what kind of fostering would be best for you. You might be advised that you look after older children who don’t need your help with their physical needs if you have a physical restriction or disability. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss it further.

For part #2 of ‘Busting the top 9 myths on who can be a foster carer’ click here.

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