Diaries Magazine

Fostering - The Things You Didn't Know

Posted on the 21 October 2019 by Mummyb @mummyb_kw
Before working in education I had a preconceived idea as to what the care system looked like in the UK. I thought there would be small centres and very few children who would pass through it. That whole picture completely changed when I became a teacher and I began to work with those families and carers. I think we all have a preconceived idea as to what fostering entails and the reasons why children can end up in care. Today I’m collaborating with Compass Fostering, who are one of the UK’s leading foster care companies. Compass Fostering works hard to find carers who can give supportive homes to children and young people in need of them. They have recently run a comprehensive survey into the state of fostering in the UK – and public perceptions around it. Within this post I want to share with you this important research and perhaps give you some reasons to perhaps consider fostering in the future.

Do we need more foster carers in the UK?

The current lack of awareness around the true numbers in foster care is one of the survey’s most striking findings. For example, Compass Fostering found that 77% of people greatly underestimate the number of children in care. The 53,000 children currently in the fostering system represent about twice the number most people estimate. There is a growing demand for foster care - which is putting Britain’s foster families under increasing pressure. Although 90% of people realize the number of children in foster care is growing, they’re unaware of all the commitment involved.
Fostering - The Things You Didn't Know

Can I become a foster carer?

There are a number of myths surrounding this and hopefully we can dispel a few of those. These are actually incredibly damaging to the sector as it can put people off who could potentially be amazing carers. Two of the main factors are that you have to be over the age of 21 and have a spare room - of course other checks have to take place but this is the basis of an application. So what are these common myths?
“I’m too old” - There is actually no upper age limit legally, as long as you can demonstrate you’re fit and healthy and can manage the demands that may come with catering you are eligible.
“I’m a single male” - Being a positive male role model in a child’s life is hugely valuable and being single or male is not something you could be turned away for.
“I’m LGBT’ - Much the same as above, you’re sexual orientation has no baring on how well you can foster.
“I can’t afford to” - Of course being a foster carer is a financial commitment in order to meet the child’s needs. However, this is normally a paid role and you’re given a generous allowance.
What is involved?
If you’re interested in becoming a foster carer the process can seem quite daunting and lengthy often taking up to six-seven months. However, as it’s such an important role I think it’s important to respect that process and know that it’s important that these vulnerable children are placed with the right kind of people. There is usually around 5 steps to the process;
Expression of Interest - Contacting a fostering organisation such as Compass Fostering
Home Visit - Next will normally be a home visit where the organisation can learn more about you and your family. This also give you the opportunity to learn more about the fostering process, the support that can be offered and answer any questions you may have. At the end of a home visit, if everyone is happy to proceed, official forms will normally be given to start the process.
Assessment - This is the section that is incredibly thorough. The foster organisation will need to understand your reasons for wanting to foster to enable them to establish what sort of children or young people would be suited to your family. The checks include references, disclosures, barring service check, health and local authority checks. Criminal records and health records can be taken into account but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will not be able to foster. During this process you often will attend courses design to help you learn about fostering and help you prepare.
Fostering Panel - This stage is nearing the end of the process and is where a final decision is made. All information is gathered and signed by both parties & presented to a fostering panel. At the end of the assessment process, the information gathered will be signed by both parties and presented in a report to our Fostering Panel - here is is decided whether or not your application is successful.
Training & Support - Once approved the support does not end here. On-going training and support is given to successful families.
Giving children an opportunity to flourish in a safe environment is incredibly rewarding and it’s an element of my own job (teacher) that motivates me to keep doing what I’m doing. If you’re interesting in finding out more about becoming a foster carer why not drop Compass Fostering a call on 0800 566 8317.
Have you ever considered fostering?
K Elizabeth xoxox
*In collaboration with Compass Fostering.

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