So, you have decided to become a foster carer. We can promise that you will find the experience of changing the life of a child to be enormously rewarding.
However, there are three important considerations to make before booking your appointment to ensure you’re adequately prepared.
Fostering is a life change; a wonderful life change, but a change nonetheless. We want our placements to last, which is why we want to stress the deliberations we believe you should make prior to accepting a placement.
1. Adjusting your lifestyle
This may be an obvious point; however, it is worth thinking about what will change specifically in your day-to-day. If you regularly enjoy visiting friends and family or travelling abroad, you will need to factor in a more traditional routine for your foster child. Your activities will now need to be based on their participation. While not being able to frequent pubs and bars may seem like a given, lifestyle changes also extend to when you holiday in the year and the frequency with which you see the aforementioned friends and family.
It is not about limiting the time you spend with others, but to limit excessive interactions in order to help your foster child understand a typical family home while giving them their own privacy. Your foster child may have come from a very different environment to the one you are offering. A slow introduction to house rules with steady, consistent parenting will allow for an understanding of blossom and develop.
This is not to say that you should not have time for yourself. This just needs to be factored in at the offset so that it is a clear part of your family routine. Remember that this is an adjustment period for you as well. You cannot provide the highest possible care when suffering from stress or anxiety. Whether you best clear your head through exercise or a hobby, be sure to continue to practise self-care.
2. Minimising disruption for your foster child
Similarly, if you have grandchildren or other young family members that typically visit your home, you will need to be aware of your foster child’s needs when planning the logistics of their stay. Your foster child has to feel like they are within a family unit, not outside of one. If you want your foster child to embrace their new environment and communicate openly with you, you need to treat the home as if it is truly theirs as well.
How you instigate these conversations with other family members can be difficult. No one wants to tell their grandchildren that they can no longer visit on a certain day or stay in a room now occupied by the foster child. Instead, you have to explain that someone else’s feelings need to be considered now – someone else who lives with you and needs to get accustomed to the roles and routines within the home that will help them in later life.
The relationships with other children in your family eco-system are core to these boundaries. You must explain your new role and any potential effect it could have on your previous dynamic. In addition, toys and clothes that you provide to your foster child should be their own – although sharing on their terms is encouraged.
3. Never breaching confidentiality
This last consideration involves not disclosing the circumstances of your foster child’s background to another person. Their circumstances are their own, and while you may currently believe that there is no reason for you to discuss their situation, imagine a social occasion where they are demonstrating challenging behaviour. What do you say to other parents looking to you for an explanation?
Your foster child’s trauma can manifest itself in many ways, yet it is up to you to handle that manifestation in a manner that does not betray their trust. You are supposed to be helping them communicate in the wider world – by openly revealing their past as a means of justifying their behaviour, you are breaching confidentiality.
You must take all reasonable steps to ensure that information about the child placed within your care is not disclosed without the consent of the child’s social worker or the fostering service. Again, this might be something that you feel unnecessary to pay much mind to this far ahead of time. However, it is worth remembering that you should never rely on the child’s circumstance to explain behaviour to other adults in times of distress.
Fostering a child is one of the most fulfilling decisions you can ever make. So, if you feel you have made all of the above considerations and are ready to start accommodating a young person in your life and home, please get in touch.
If you feel that CFS Fostering are the agency to support you in changing a child’s life for the better, please get in touch with our expert team today on 01204 704777 or on [email protected].