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Part 2: Busting the top 9 myths on who can be a foster carer

Continued from ‘Part 1: Busting the top 9 myths on who can be a foster carer’. Click here to read.

Myth #6 I don’t have children of my own so I can’t foster

Having children of your own is not a requirement to be a foster carer. Not having children of your own does not imply that you lack the necessary mental, physical, and emotional resources to foster a child.

Although it is an advantage to have some experience caring for children, this could be through work, volunteering, or caring for the children of friends and family.

James and Kate*, two of our foster carers discuss how they became foster carers without having children of their own:

“Not having children of our own maybe meant we had a lot to learn to start with.  Of course, it’s challenging but without preconceived ideas you can meet a child’s needs intuitively. I think any parent will tell you that their child didn’t come with an instruction manual, you work it out as you go along, and that’s how it was with us.

“For us it’s been a wonderful roller coaster of a journey and one which we’re still on and still learning from. All of the young people and children & babies that come into our lives seem to find a way of climbing into our hearts and before you know it you realise that your heart has expanded to include them as part of your story as well.”

Foster carer Rowshonara standing beside her husband smiling at the camera

Myth #7 I can’t foster because I have religious beliefs

The ability to be a foster parent is not determined by one’s religious beliefs. Having religious beliefs should not prevent you from becoming a foster carer as long as you respect the beliefs of any young person placed with you, even if they differ from your own.

Our foster carers Rowshonara and Syed have a tip for supporting a young person with religious beliefs different from your own:

“When taking on a child(ren) with a different cultural background to your own, be mindful that they may find your cultural norms a shock and sometimes even a bit strange.

“Every child that comes to you should feel comfortable in your home and be able trust you with their hearts. Food is a great way to start building that trust. When a child comes to stay with us, you could cook and place a variety of different foods on the dining table for them to choose from at mealtimes – including your home culture’s food, typical children’s food and if needed, food from their own culture. This allows them to make a choice of their own and shows them that you are respectful of them.”

Read more on fostering and religion in our blog here.

Myth #8 I have a criminal record, so can’t foster

A criminal record doesn’t necessarily disqualify you from becoming a foster carer from the get-go. There are many different variables that we consider like the circumstances of the crime, the severity, how long ago the crime took place and what type of crime it was. However, anyone with a record of offences against children, or serious sexual offences, is legally barred from fostering.

Chloe, one of our assessing social workers says:

We believe people are capable of change, having a criminal conviction does not necessarily preclude you from becoming a foster carer. If you have a criminal record, please let us know at the start of your fostering journey so we can discuss this with you.  You shouldn’t be discriminated against if the convictions were a long time ago and were not of a nature that could pose a risk to children.”

Myth #9 I’ll need to quit my job to be able to foster

We have many foster carers that continue to work alongside fostering, it all depends on the type of fostering you want to do and your current work commitments. We’ll have a chat with you about your current circumstances and see if there is a type of fostering that suits you and your lifestyle.

Zhoura, one of our foster carers talks about how fostering fits in alongside her job:

“Holding down a job whilst also nurturing and caring for a child through difficult times demonstrates resilience and a fighting spirit. This can be inspiring for young people to see their foster carer manage various challenges in the real world and encourage them to reach their potential.

“If you’re thinking about fostering and want to keep working, consider the various types of fostering you could do and how each one would fit in with your current role.”

Could you foster?

Now that we’ve debunked the top nine fostering myths, we hope you’re more knowledgeable about who can foster, and the answer is probably you! If you’re still unsure whether you’d be a good foster carer, just take a few minutes to consider the following questions.

  • Do I have some sort of experience with young people or relevant transferrable skills?
  • Do I have a calm manner and the ability to manage my emotions?
  • Do I have a spare room in my home for a young person?
  • Am I over the age of 21?
  • Do I have communication skills?
  • Am I a positive role model?

When we say experience with young people or transferrable skills, we mean through parenting your own children, working in a childcare setting, work experience in a care setting, volunteer work with children, or caring for children of family/friends.

You absolutely need to have a calm manner, and able to manage your emotions. Communication is very much a key skill you’ll need to work with children. When you become a foster carer you’ll be part of a larger team and will need to complete forms, reports, attend meetings and liaise with multiple agencies on behalf of the child placed with you.

If, after answering the above questions, you believe you have something to offer a young person in need and are ready to begin your fostering journey, please contact us.

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